Blame Me on History

Bloke Modisane, Author Simon & Schuster $21.95 (311p) ISBN 978-0-671-70067-6
First published (and quickly banned) in South Africa in 1963, Modisane's account of life as a black in South Africa remains a biting indictment of apartheid even today, filled with thoughtful observations and written in a simple, eloquent prose. Modisane recalls a youth in which two siblings died of starvation and his father was killed in a fight. In a society where ``the law is white and justice casual,'' the assailant received a six-month sentence. The author learns survival tactics, literal and psychological, such as adopting an obsequious pose to clear a police block, or the ironic display of humor, as when he notes that the South African police force may be the only employer that actually requires a modicum of intelligence. Among the many episodes he recollects, one left a particularly deep imprint on him. In gathering research for a 1956 magazine article on Christian brotherhood, he tried to enter 15 white churches and recorded the results: all denied him entry, and two escorted him to the local police. The churchgoers, he concludes, were ``essentially white and incidentally Christian.'' Modisane, who died in 1986, was a playwright, actor and activist. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 311 pages - 978-0-86852-098-8
Hardcover - 311 pages - 978-0-671-70794-1
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