December 12, 2018

Winnipeg
-2° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Teens' lives intersect in Soweto for teenagers in divided society

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/8/2016 (844 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Soweto Uprising in June 1976 proved to be a seminal event that cracked the structure of apartheid in South Africa. The protest by 20,000 black schoolchildren against the enforced teaching of the Afrikaans language sparked mounting protests and actions that finally caused the race-based system to crumble in 1990.

In her first novel, aimed at young adolescents, but also suitable for adult reading, the Vancouver-based Arushi Raina has written a fictional account of four teenagers from different sections of the divided society in the days before the uprising. It’s a credible story of how lives intersect and how events can change lives as part of the trajectory of history.

It’s also a reminder about how single events can become flashpoints for change. Blacks linked the Afrikaans language with the oppressive Boer-dominated government. Opposition to the new decree simmered. Zanele, a young teenager, gets involved in the underground movement, but the restrictive pass laws that controlled the movements of blacks and the brutality meted out by the police make her involvement dangerous. She keeps her participation a secret from her sister and mother.

Jack, meanwhile, represents the privileged white world. Raina illustrates the contrasts well, the normalcy of inequality. His roomy house in the suburbs is a world away from the tin shack in the township Zanele’s mother leaves behind every day to work as a maid for Jack’s family. Jack is his parents’ hope, headed for an advanced education at Oxford, but he questions his future when he becomes involved with Zanele.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/8/2016 (844 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Soweto Uprising in June 1976 proved to be a seminal event that cracked the structure of apartheid in South Africa. The protest by 20,000 black schoolchildren against the enforced teaching of the Afrikaans language sparked mounting protests and actions that finally caused the race-based system to crumble in 1990.

In her first novel, aimed at young adolescents, but also suitable for adult reading, the Vancouver-based Arushi Raina has written a fictional account of four teenagers from different sections of the divided society in the days before the uprising. It’s a credible story of how lives intersect and how events can change lives as part of the trajectory of history.

It’s also a reminder about how single events can become flashpoints for change. Blacks linked the Afrikaans language with the oppressive Boer-dominated government. Opposition to the new decree simmered. Zanele, a young teenager, gets involved in the underground movement, but the restrictive pass laws that controlled the movements of blacks and the brutality meted out by the police make her involvement dangerous. She keeps her participation a secret from her sister and mother.

Jack, meanwhile, represents the privileged white world. Raina illustrates the contrasts well, the normalcy of inequality. His roomy house in the suburbs is a world away from the tin shack in the township Zanele’s mother leaves behind every day to work as a maid for Jack’s family. Jack is his parents’ hope, headed for an advanced education at Oxford, but he questions his future when he becomes involved with Zanele.

A massive national security service propped up the apartheid system. But the external police force relied upon spies within the townships to provide information about resistance organizers and to foster a continuing sense of mistrust among community members. Poverty drove many people to rat on their friends, as Thabo, Zanele’s school friend, does to get some cash and bolster his status in a gang.

Caught in between were people of Indian heritage who were allowed to succeed on the fringes of white society. The result was some Indian South Africans identified with the white-dominated government, while others felt the sting of discrimination and limitation. Meena, an aspiring doctor, is willing to give up her dreams to participate in the struggle against apartheid, while her father does whatever he can to keep their household (and especially his daughter) away from the prying eyes of the police.

The characters’ conversations, which include words in Zulu and Afrikaans (explained in a glossary), are in clipped phrases; their oblique references reflect their suspicion about each other or concern that someone could be listening. The challenges of organizing an opposition action amid fear, internal conflicts and the physical difficulties of movement and communication made what happened an unlikely surprise. Masses of children converged in a demonstration and were attacked by police using guns and armored vehicles. Four decades later, the death toll is unknown. The government tallied 23 dead, but others claim as many as 700 people, mostly children and teenagers, were killed.

Raina brings the characters together in a dramatic, if not unusual climax, but it shows how the past intrudes at random moments. She lived in South Africa as a child during the time of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the 1990s. She observes that although progress has been made in terms of racial mixing in certain segments of society, such as education, the serving class is still black.

The deepening economic crisis is increasing disparities between races again, which may cause the ghosts of the past to cause upheaval in the years to come.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us