Sophiatown: Coming of Age in South Africa

Don Mattera, Author Beacon Press (MA) $15.95 (151p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0206-3
This is the first-person account of the rise to political consciousness and activism of a notorious Coloured gang leader from the turbulent ghetto near Johannesburg, where blacks and whites lived side by side and created a vibrant culture, until the South African government razed it to the ground. Grandson of an Italian sailor who jumped ship and married a Xhosa woman, Mattera served several jail terms for public violence, joined the African National Congress, was put under house arrest for more than eight years and became a founder of the Union of Black Journalists and the Congress of South African Writers. In this short, inconclusive, evocative memoir, the poet-dramatist writes powerfully of his wretched life as a wild young man, of his people's struggle for liberation and of his own conversion from violence to the use of peaceful methods. He provides a searing view of a troubled land. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-8070-0207-0
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