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Published by Quercus, 7 May 2015. ISBN: 978-1-78206-652-1(HB)
This novel is set in the remote and arid North-West
Province of South Africa. It begins with the discovery by a young girl Delilah
of her grandmother’s body floating in a dammed-up lake. For Delilah this is
devastating: the grandmother, always called Ouma (Afrikaans for grandmother)
had provided the love that her own rather chaotic parents had not even in her
old age when increasing confusion made it impossible for her to work as a
doctor. In fact Ouma’s death, apparently by drowning, is devastating for many
people: she had worked as a doctor in the locality for many years and had
provided tireless and dedicated support for many of the local people. It is devastating for her son, Groot (Big)
Samuel who farms the land and for his African manager, Klein (Little) Samuel.
For the young Afrikaans policeman Jannie Claassens: when he was a child Ouma
had intervened to protect him and his mother from his violent father and now that
he is a grown man she supports him in coming to terms with his homosexuality.
For the young and beautiful African woman Cheetah who had fled violent parents
only to be drawn into the world of city prostitution where she fell prey to
HIV: Ouma had fought with determination to ensure that Cheetah obtained the
retroviral drugs she needed to survive. Above all, for old Gogo (Zulu for
grandmother), Ouma’s cook and lifelong friend.
But it is Delilah
who insists that Ouma had not slipped and fallen to her death, that she had not
been in a confused state of mind on that day, that her death had perhaps not
been accidental. And she convinces Jannie that she is perhaps not mistaken. But
Jannie is warned off further investigation by his boss Mokheti Mokoena who feels
that there is no realistic evidence that Ouma’s death was anything other than
an accident. Mokoena is beset by the problems that violence and corruption have
brought to South Africa extending even to his own force. But his superiors have
told him to leave that particular hornet’s nest alone, and Mokoena feels there
is no alternative.
This is a very fine
novel; although there is a mystery as to Ouma’s death which is eventually
resolved, it is as much a novel of human relationships. It is, however, for those
who are not familiar with South Africa, not an easy novel to grasp. Highly
Elaine Proctor was born in South Africa. She grew up in Johannesburg
and in the African bush which she loves. Along with a small number of
politicized white teenagers, Elaine became active in the anti apartheid
movement. She began to document Black resistance to Apartheid in overtly
political documentary films like Forward to a People’s Republic and The Sun
Will Rise. The latter was a series of interviews with mothers whose sons
were on death row for political offenses.
by bouts of film training in London, Elaine continued to make documentaries in
South Africa until 1986, when the political situation made it impossible for
her to continue to do so. Her final documentary, Sharpeville Spirit, followed
the lives of a group of young activists organizing resistance in that infamous
township. Concurrent with her arrival at this political
cul-de-sac, Elaine entered the masters program in writing and directing
feature films at the NATIONAL FILM AND TELEVISION SCHOOL in England. Her
feature-length graduation film called On
The Wire, won the British Film Institute’s Sutherland Trophy (most original
and imaginative first film) for 1990. On
The Wire, is the story of tragic marriage between a South African Defense
Force reconnaissance battalion commander and his rural Afrikaner wife. We
learn through their relationship, and particularly his sexuality, what terrible
damage the war exacted on both perpetrators and victims.
first film after graduation, Friends, continued to explore the personal stories
inside the political epic that is Apartheid/post-Apartheid South Africa. It was
selected by the Cannes Film Festival to be part of its coveted Official
Competition and won Mention Speciale - Prix de Camera D’Or in that year.
then wrote LOADED, a series for the BBC looking at the creation of ‘new
philanthropy’ and its consequences for world peace and development over the
past two decades. Paradise and the Dog of Plenty followed. It tells the
story of five American women who go on a plastic surgery safari in South Africa
with most unexpected results.
2009 Elaine wrote the novel RHUMBA.
now lives in North London and is married with two teenage children.
Radmila Maywas born in the US but has lived in the UK ever since apart from
seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into
practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and
has been working for them off and on ever since. For the last few years she has
been one of three editors working on a new edition of a practitioners' text
book on Criminal Evidence by her late husband, publication of which has been
held up for a variety of reasons but hopefully will be published by the end of
2015. She also has an interest in archaeology in which subject she has a