White Woman Witchdoctor: Tales of the African Life of Rae Graham

Taffy G. McCallum, Author Fielden Books $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-9633721-8-5
Trained as a nurse in her native England, Graham married in 1948 and followed her new husband home to an unusual life in South Africa. Her tales, as recorded by McCallum (South Africa: Land of Hope), first dally on the mundane, then tell of life among the Venda people at a trading station in rural South Africa. Slowly Graham learns about her neighbors: an attempt to exchange Christmas cards is unsuccessful, while collecting musical instruments gains her entry into their ceremonies. When her family moves to neighboring Botswana, Graham travels in the desert to observe the Bushmen. In Johannesburg, she studies to be a witch doctor, and offers a tolerant view of such traditional healing. However, her first-person stories often lack context. Also, while blacks may call Graham The Bridge because of her knowledge of their lives, she displays an obtuseness about racial issues, regularly using the term piceanin and declaring, inaccurately, that the spurious homeland of Venda chose to become independent of South Africa in 1979. Photos not seen by PW (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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