Welcome to my blog where I share my book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, January 10, 2020

Hum if You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Hum if you don't know the Words by Bianca Marais is a powerful book. The background to the story is the South African Soweto uprising in 1976. Apartheid segregation affected everyone in South Africa and promoted hate between the races and anyone else who wasn't what the white government thought of as elite.

But the story is so much more. Told from the points of view of a nine year old white girl living with her parents in Johannesburg and Beauty Mbali a Xhosa woman from the rural village in Transkei we get two very different ideas of life with racial conflict. On top of the race problems there are so many different languages that people have to communicate with: English and Afrikaans and those from various African tribes.

Children look at circumstances both unbiased and unclouded and Robin is a perfect character to show us the ridiculousness of hate for others not like us often with a humorous view. But Beauty Mbali has no veil over her eyes and sees the world with fear and worry for her daughter who disappeared during the uprising and her search for her child uncovers an underground of people working to help those caught up in the uprising and those intent on destroying the status quo.

This is another book for my favorite books of the year list.

One recommendation I have while reading the book is to find a map showing the locations, it is only then that you will appreciate the distances Beauty travels from her Xhosa village in Transkei  (an area North of the town East London) when trying to find her daughter in Johannesburg. Soweto is near Orlando south-west of Johannesburg (an acronym for Southwest Townships)

Another book set in South Africa that I found interesting is Trevor Noah's Born a Crime.

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