22 August 2017

South Africa: Book Review - Shaping the Present Through the Nobility of Our Past


For me, Charlotte Maxeke's story is testament to the beauty of biography as a literary form. The story of a person's life is a way to prise open the history that made her and which she in turn made. In the pages of Beauty of the Heart you can travel back to Ramokgopa village in Limpopo in the mid-nineteenth century where her father came from; visit and feel the diamond fields of Kimberley in the 1890s; make passing encounter with Olive Schreiner and Emily Pankhurst; and be reminded about the indignities inflicted on Sarah Baartman. By MARK HEYWOOD.

In 1893, as the young Charlotte Maxeke prepared to return to Kimberley after two years in England she had these parting words of advice for her English hosts:

"Let us be in Africa even as we are in England. Here we are treated as men and women. Yonder we are but cattle. But in Africa as in England we are human. Can you not make your people at the Cape as kind as your people here? That is the first thing and the greatest. But there are still three other things that I would ask. Help us to found the schools for...

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