African Women by Mark Mathabane - review by Janet Gruber

Janet Gruber

Filtered Feelings

African Women


Hamish Hamilton 348pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

African Women tells, ‘in their own words’, the harrowing yet ultimately uplifting story of the experiences of three generations of women from Mark Mathabane’s immediate family: Granny, now in her eighties, his mother, Geli, and his sister Florah. All three live in Alexandra township near Johannesburg, and each in her own time has endured overwhelming hardship and indignity in the daily struggle for survival. Each has had not just to fend for herself, but to care for her children (in traditional society the welfare and upbringing of children is entirely the mother’s responsibility).

The determination and strength of such commitment, and the success it can bring, may be seen in the case of Mark Mathabane. Geli, herself illiterate, fought against enormous odds to ensure that all seven of her children went to school (free for whites only) . Mark eventually went to the

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