Seed is Mine: The Life and Times of an African Sharecropper

Charles Van Onselen, Author
Charles Van Onselen, Author Hill & Wang $35 (649p) ISBN 978-0-8090-9603-9
Paperback - 672 pages - 978-0-8090-1594-8
Paperback - 668 pages - 978-0-85255-740-2
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A historian in South Africa, van Onselen has organized a prodigious amount of research-not only from the well-remembering Kas Maine, farmer, healer and patriarch, but also from other family members and those in his community-to tell ""the story of a family who have no documentary existence."" Yet the Maines, sharecroppers in Transvaal Province, lived through South African history while the ""emerging South African state"" clamped down on sharecroppers to provide white landlords a labor force under apartheid capitalism. The most interesting portions of the narrative recount how, especially before apartheid was enacted in 1948, racial lines were somewhat fluid, as Africans such as Maine could play banker to poor Afrikaners, and Kas, in a wise presage of South Africa's future, concluded that individual behavior meant more than skin color. General readers may find this lengthy book too detailed; for those studying South African history, it is a vital contribution. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
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