ALAN v27n2 - Coming of Age in the New South Africa

Coming of Age in the New South Africa

Judith Bentley and Peter Midgley

"All the old rules [are] disappearing now," laments a character in a recent South African youth novel, Don't Manic, Mechanic. "But nobody [is] making any new rules to take their place" ( Robson 90). As they live for the first time under Black majority rule, South Africans are moving through liberating but uncertain times. Nowhere is this more honestly reflected than in the youth literature written in the 1990's.

Youth feel the changes in a society first and most directly, and they usually deal with them first. Since Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1992, everything in South Africa has changed, including the settings, characters, plots, themes, authors, and points of view, and tones of young adult novels. The novels both reflect the changes and offer guidance as to how young people might live in the new rainbow society. An examination of mid-1990's novels will show their contribution to the national dialogue about what the new rules should be.

Political realities have always been a strong component of coming of age in South Africa. Because of the oppressive history of apartheid in South Africa, the age of innocence has been short. Whereas American problem novels may deal with divorce, sexual orientation, gangs, and drugs, national problems have eclipsed the more personal in South Africa. When apartheid laws were passed in 1948, freedoms for Blacks and Coloureds (the term for people of mixed race) were sharply curtailed. A Defiance Campaign began in 1952. In the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, 67 men, women, and children were killed by police. Under a policy of relocating Blacks in designated "homelands," more than 3.5 million were forcibly removed from urban neighborhoods and relocated. Bantu Education, an attempt to keep African people less educated, forced teachers to make political decisions about their jobs. Even going to school had political implications. Fifteen thousand schoolchildren protested in Soweto in 1976 against the use of the Afrikaans language in their schools; hundreds were killed by the police in the riots that swept through the country in the following months.

When Robert Coles interviewed children in South Africa in the 1970's, he noticed a striking intensity of emotion and an intense fear among Black, White, and Colored children ( 221 ). English boys and girls feared that the country would fall apart ( 195 ), that it would be engulfed ( 222 ). An Afrikaner boy said it was "impossible to imagine a country like this without some separation; there has to be separation" ( 201 ). Coloured children were very aware of race and skin color, especially in their drawings of themselves. Young Black teens yearned for a racial nationalism and firmly asserted their right to the country: "We're here, and we've been here, and no matter how often they shuffle us, and send us back and forth, we're still here, and they know it…"( 224 ). Coles concluded from his interviews worldwide that "A nation's politics becomes a child's everyday psychology" ( 310 ).

Is it any wonder that a Coloured girl in Joe Cassidy and the Red Hot Cha Cha longs for a more protected childhood? "Diane often thought how different it had been in London, where every day had been a walk inside a storybook filled with kids with soft pink cheeks and houses with hedges and old men walking their dogs" ( Smith 4 ). The director of a play in Don't Panic, Mechanic admits that he also liked the two years he spent in England: "No burning tyres and chanting crowds and craziness. No marching through the streets" ( Robson 110 ).

Adult literature first reflected the politics. South Africa has had a strong publishing tradition in both Afrikaans (the home language of 15% of the population) and English, now the official language of instruction but not the native tongue of the majority of people ( van der Walt 26 ). Books in English by White writers like Alan Paton, Andre Brink, and Nadine Gordimer easily reached across the oceans. Some, like Paton's Cry the Beloved Country, became classics in high school literature classes abroad. A strong tradition of Black protest writing in English also developed. Authors like Ezekiel Mphahlele ( Down Second Avenue, 1959 ), Bloke Modisane ( Blame Me on History, 1963 ), Mark Mathabane ( Kaffir Boy, 1986 ), and Sindiwe Magona, ( To My Children's Children, 1990 ), provided coming of age narratives.

Young adult fiction as a category of reading for pleasure aimed at readers from 12 to 18 is a more recent phenomenon. South African scholar Elwyn Jenkins places its origins in the 1970's at the same time youth were becoming involved in political events ( 49 ). A group of authors, mainly White, began writing novels that cautiously explored what life was across color lines. From these tentative explorations in the 1980's, young adult fiction has taken a new direction in the 1990's.

With the end of apartheid, South Africans faced national life with less separation, a national life that would acknowledge the reality of being "here." They were wildly hopeful for a new beginning, for a rainbow nation that would emerge from the years of separation and racial oppression. Mandela's election in 1994 was anticipated with political violence between the African National Congress (ANC) and Inkatha and with fears of widespread civil disorder by Whites, but when he was elected, much of the country felt liberated. The father in a family returning from exile in Play Music ( 1996 ) says he is going back "to build a new society, one where everyone has an equal chance" ( Bowie 11 ).

This remarkable transition has grabbed writers' imaginations, according to Jakes Gerwel. The 1994 elections marked "the crossing of a divide which had liberating effects far beyond the obviously political," he wrote in a foreword to Crossing Over ( 1995 ), a collection of short stories. He listed some of these effects as an awareness of others, a loosening of fear and suspicion, and "the emancipation of the personal from the overbearing domination of the political."

Euphoria and feelings of liberation, however, must be translated into lasting changes. Even under a popular president, overcoming decades of harsh separation, repression, and poverty would not come easily. Coming of age was still fraught with hazard, hazards perhaps less harsh than when the rulebooks were full of restrictions but more uncertain. In such conditions, novels published at the height of the change, from 1992 to 1997, have tried to break the trail for young adults.

The plots of these novels reflect both the old tensions and the new tensions that result when "apartness" no longer defines the national polity. In Mpho's Search, 13-year-old Mpho is forced off a farm when a sheep is stolen. He goes looking for his father in Johannesburg, where he must survive on the streets. Just as the 1994 elections approach, Mpho finds his father; everything for him and for the country is going to turn out all right. In Joe Cassidy and the Red Hot Cha-Cha, the plot tension occurs when Diane, a young Coloured teen whose father was killed by a letter bomb, is attracted to a White boy whose father is also dead. Even when Diane discovers that his father worked for the secret police, tracking down "terrorists" like her father, their friendship survives.

In most of these novels, however, the resolution of conflict does not come so easily. In The Boy Who Counted to a Million, 14-year-old Matthew constantly reads war comics, but he is gradually drawn out of his books into the violence of both history and the present. Matthew counts to a million to try to get a handle on the number of people his grandfather told him were killed in World War I, including his grandfather's brother. While he's counting, he sees his African friend's father killed in pre-election violence between supporters of Buthelezi (the predominantly Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party candidate for president) and the African National Congress (ANC), which supports Mandela. Neither Matthew nor his grandfather could prevent the deaths of friends and brothers, but they do comfort each other, thawing a relationship that has been distant. A violent act is the climax, but not the answer.

An uneasy peace is also the resolution of The Red-Haired Khumalo. Chelsea, the 15-year-old white daughter named in the title, suddenly has to share her home with a black step-brother who is equally unhappy when their parents marry, a marriage that would have been illegal in the 1980's. Step-sister and step-brother are brought together only when he is unfairly arrested and beaten by the police. These siblings understand each other much better and have learned tolerance, but they won't necessarily live "happily ever after."

In other works the climaxes are less dramatic. Don't Panic, Mechanic follows 14-year-old MacKenzie who must find a way to help support his widowed mother and siblings without losing his "grace and dignity," which happen to be the names of his sisters. His older brother spends his time making political speeches, shoplifts when he wants tapes or cigarettes, and maintains that when the "Great Change" comes, everyone will have jobs. Although MacKenzie doesn't do well in school, he's unhappy staying home and babysitting for his sister's baby. He wants to be an entertainer, but he finds that acting doesn't pay. He tries begging from women who have just bought groceries, then allows his visual impairment to be exploited in a charity drive, and even ends up in a police van because of door to door solicitations. Finally, he finds satisfying work as a "hopper," the taxi driver's assistant who collects money and assists passengers when they embark or disembark. It feels right for MacKenzie, but his family is only slightly less desperate than it has been before.

Just as plots use national politics as sources of conflict and resolution, the settings also reflect national events, the edging away from apartness. Most of the settings are urban, where first world and third world collide, and many are set in the most diverse areas of South Africa: Capetown, long its most multicultural, cosmopolitan city, and Hillbrow, a multiracial area of Johannesburg. Sometimes the setting is merely a backdrop, but political and economic conditions are integral to the conflict in novels such as Don't Panic, Mechanic and to novels of street children such as No Turning Back and The Strollers.

In several novels, village life is seen as a more wholesome but less sustainable environment, either because of extreme poverty or the dissolution of families and social systems. In Cageful of Butterflies, a Zulu deaf-mute boy, Mponyane, is brought from his village to be cared for by a white family, which has its own misfortunes. When Frank, the young white boy in the family, is threatened by a bully, Mponyane ties to protect him by taking him back to his village. Ultimately he rescues his "brother," but he dies during a flood. Village life is not an escape for either boy.

The social settings of the novelsÑfamilies and neighborhoodsÑreflect the dislocations in the nation. Many fathers are absent--off to the mines, in exile, disappeared, in prison. Mothers and grandparents must both work and care for the children. The older characters who remain may be wise, but they are often ineffectual. Matthew's father in The Boy Who Counted to a Million is an Anglican priest who is often called on to console the victims of political violence, but he can do little to prevent it. Even as oppressive police tactics diminish in the new South Africa, non-political crimes like murder and robbery often go unpunished. "You and I both know the justice system in this country is falling apart," says a character in? Who Killed Jimmy Valentine? ( Williams ).

Rather than addressing the entire social system, most young adult novels are "political" at the interpersonal level. Characters roam widely over the ethnic landscape--Afrikaner, Coloured, English, Xhosa, Zulu, and San--often crossing barriers much more easily than their real life counterparts. Sometimes ethnic identity is given; most of the time only clues are given through names, language, and neighborhoods. MacKenzie de Jongh is Coloured; "Boekie" is an Afrikaans word roughly meaning "Dude"; Afrikaans is the home language of most Coloureds; Khumalo is black African.

These post-apartheid youth cannot avoid interacting with each other, which provides much of the tension of the stories. Racial barriers have fallen; interracial marriage, once illegal, is now legal. Garden boys go to school with the boss's son. Coloureds and blacks move next door. Schools, neighborhoods, marriages, and buses are newly integrated, and characters are openly exploring what the "other" is like. Parade of the Misfits dares to bring together a full cast of those who had been "the outsiders": an overweight Afrikaans nerd, a disabled black violin player in a recently desegregated school, a girl with divorced parents who hides in her father's basement apartment (very low-class), a blind piano player, a township gang, and the local drunk. The challenge for the authors is to portray the other, the former outsiders, as round, dynamic characters.

The "other" is not always portrayed in a flattering manner. Ronnie Valentine is a heartless, Coloured father and taxi fleet owner in Who Killed Jimmy Valentine? An older brother makes persuasive political speeches but sponges off his hard-working mother and contributes nothing to the family in Don't Panic, Mechanic.

The stereotyped characters are used to offset the more complex protagonists. MacKenzie has to find an identity for himself that is different from his brother's. For him the Great Change is not the answer. Ronnie Valentine is a foil for the black father of a son who has also been murdered. "Is it so hard to believe that a man would not kill to satisfy his anger, Detective?" the father asks. "'We are not all bad men" ( Williams 76 ). Nor is the white detective who is genuinely trying to solve the murder of a young Coloured man. Nkululeko, the black stepbrother in Khumalo, doesn't expect to help with the dishes because that's women's work, but he does extend himself when one of his soccer buddies offends his step-sister.

Their struggles to find identity reflect some typical adolescent concerns: relationships with parents, dating, and the maturing process of curbing some instincts. "[I]t was dangerous, jumping to conclusions and not looking for other explanations," concludes a girl in One Magic Moment ( Robson 96 ). As the title suggests, one major theme of Don't Panic, Mechanic is to stay calm. "It's not good to get in a frenzy."

Yet there are atypical reasons for not making quick judgments and for staying calm in these novels. The personal decisions and actions of the protagonists have political causes and implications. Through plots, settings, and characters, the themes of the novels address underlying questions. What will happen to Whites in the new South Africa? Will Blacks' lives change dramatically? Is reconciliation possible? Is political speech-making to bring about change more important than working at a menial job to support a family? Is violence ever justified? How can it be prevented?

The protagonists in the successful novels are constantly testing the wind, trying to find some answers. The new rules are often found through inter-personal relationships and maturity: tolerance for a father's eccentricity ( Boekie, You Better Believe It ), appreciation for the sources of a step-brother's anger ( The Red-Haired Khumalo ), and discovery of pride in work ( Don't Panic, Mechanic ).

Interracial friendships can't be forced is one theme of Khetho. When the former garden boy becomes the classmate of the "baas's" son, the two must decide whether they truly want to be friends and how. Likewise, in The Red-Haired Khumalo, the laws about intermarriage have changed, but feelings are slower to change. Racial attitudes are inherent and hard to overcome, and family life is never perfect. The marriage of Dianne's grandmother across religions ( Joe Cassidy ) indicates that love can overcome differences. One Magic Moment hints that the game of cricket might be a great leveler.

The complexity of human nature and of human interactions is often part of the "truth" that is discovered. In a pre-1994 novel, Into the Valley, a 16-year-old white boy goes looking for meaning in his own life by looking for a young African hero in a village beset by violence between Inkatha and the African National Congress (ANC) in Zululand. Walter finds that the hero may not even exist and that truth is not "black and white," not what it seems in the newspapers. Nor does his head-on investigative approach work. Making peace in the village is not something he or a group of teens can do alone. Indeed the fault for the social disintegration of the village lies in many places, especially the local white employer who does not want a union to develop, but it can only be remedied when adults stand up. "You know, I'd reached a point where I realized I couldn't be neutral any longer. I would not be intimidated anymore, and certainly not by a group of schoolchildren. I had to make a standÉ, " says James, store owner in the village ( Williams 187 ).

In Boikie, You Better Believe It, Daniel is embarrassed by his eccentric father who preaches in the parks. He's not like his friend Zelda from Soweto who wants to become a politician and also seems to be on a mission. When an attack on a pub lands his father in the hospital, the father admits he doesn't have answers, but he advises Daniel to keep on searching. "'And you, Daniel, be faithful to the end'" ( Hofmeyr 130 ).

MacKenzie's dilemma, "How can I get a proper job when I can't even read properly?" ( Robson, 95 ) is answered when he discovers that entertainers can make people happy by distracting them and that he has skills that can overcome his educational deficits. "That's the kind of spirit that can get you anywhere you want to go" his new employer tells him at the end of the book ( 150 ). It's the capitalist answer to begging or working at dead-end jobs.

Changes in the society are especially reflected in the point of view used. Although the majority of young people becoming active in politics in the 1970's, 80's and 90's were black, the majority of writers of young adult fiction have been White. Thus, a common point of view in the novels is inside the White character's head, either first-person or limited omniscient. Yet these are White protagonists dealing with issues that may not have concerned them much before. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963 noted that one of the "luxuries" of White people was "their capacity to turn their backs on politics, while at the same time holding on to their power" ( Coles 10 ). A South African librarian, Jenni Milward, also posits that "White teenagers are not interested in politics, in real issues. They would rather read romance and horror" ( Garson ). In South Africa in the 1990's, however, White teenagers no longer have the luxury of ignoring racial issues.

As awareness rose in the 1980's of voices not heard in the literature, many of the White authors began to include a wider variety of characters. As writers they crossed racial and cultural boundaries and tried to take readers with them, often using Black protagonists. Beverly Naidoo was one of the first White authors to write about the effects of apartheid. She wrote from exile in London but followed the lives of African children in Journey to Joburg ( 1986 ), Chain of Fire ( 1989 ), and most recently No Turning Back ( 1995 ). An earlier book by Ezekiel Mphahlele, Father Come Home ( 1984 ), uses an usual "community" point of view. In some parts of the book, unnamed members of the community tell what is happening to the protagonist. This point of view emphasizes that what is happening to the individual, the absence of a father, is also devastating to the community.

Jennifer Seed moved from writing historical novels in which Blacks were incidental and played a subservient role to writing novels from the point of view of the Black character. One of her first efforts to do this, The Great Thirst ( 1971 ) has a Black protagonist and point of view but has been criticized as emphasizing the "alleged self-destructivenessÑthe violent and volatile tendenciesÑof African peoples" ( Maddy and MacCann 30 ). A later novel on the siege of Mafeking, a crucial battle during the South African War of 1899-1902, used the point of view of a White child who has to endure the hardships of life under siege ( A Place among the Stones, 1987 ). Just five years later, she wrote about the same siege, in which 5,000 Africans were hungry for almost 200 days. This time, however, she relied heavily on the diary of Sol Plaatje, a Black interpreter in Mafeking ( The Hungry People, 1994 ).

Beryl Bowie made a similar transition. Her Mystery at Cove Rock ( 1990 ) was a first awkward attempt to portray a cross-cultural friendship. A young White boy becomes friends with a Xhosa youth and discovers more about the world of African ancestral spirits, a fascination with African culture that is a first step toward cross-cultural writing. By the time she wrote Pedal Me Faster ( 1995 ) she is at ease with the use of African characters and they become far more believable, rather than catalysts in an exploration of a "foreign" culture. Dianne Hofmeyer, Lesley Beake, and Michael Williams have also "crossed over."

Perhaps the ultimate in cross-over fiction is Peter Slingsby's The Joining ( 1996 ), in which a group of friends, Black and White, go on a school trip together. When they get transported into the pre-colonial days of the Khoisan people, they survive with the help of a group of San people who take them in and teach them different skills. The eldest child becomes a diviner and has the ability to see the future. They feel at home in the community yet know there is another life waiting for them. The boy who becomes a diviner is tormented by his knowledge of what the future holds for the Khoisan people and his desire to change the course of history. Ultimately, the friends have to make a choice between returning to the present or staying in the past. The Black children point out that the life they have to return to is not the same as that of the White children. In the process of deciding, they recognize each others' differences and their shared future and accept each other as friends. The ending is deliberately ambiguous, and the reader is unsure whether they return or not. The ending reflects the uncertainty that faces youth in South Africa and their realization that they, and they alone, hold the key to the future. Slingsby succeeds with a dual point of view.

Because of the point of view and the intended audience, the tone of these novels is intense and immediate. In adolescent life, things happen, and they happen now. Few of the novels take a long-term view--the period of time covered is seldom more than a couple of months or the length of a school holiday. South Africa also seemed to change rapidly.

Tones can also be refreshingly matter-of fact. Issues of racial prejudice are discussed on the same level as getting a tattoo or who does the dishes, as in Bregin's Red-Haired Khumalo ( 35 ). The constant teen question of what to wear becomes what to wear to a township funeral in Khetho. Nor are the characters' words reverential or politically correct.

"You think he's going to line up for the Truth Commission and confess all his nasty little secrets to Bishop Tutu?" asks a policeman in Who Killed Jimmy Valentine?, about a colleague who had been in the Internal Stability Unit. "Sure he will, and Winnie and Nelson are going to patch up their marriage and live happily every after" ( Williams 49 ).

As is also typical of young adult books, many are hopeful and idealistic. Problems are resolved; things tend to turn out all right; adults often prove to be reliable. In other books, the characters alternate between optimism, helplessness, confusion, and ambivalence. Interracial friendships, as in Khetho and The Red-Haired Khumalo don't happen immediately; they must be negotiated.

Adults, particularly, seem unable to cope, often failing in their protective roles, in forming a society that will nurture youth. It is MacKenzie's mother in Don't Panic, Mechanic who laments to a White policeman that the rules are so unclear. Older characters openly question how much they can change. "We are racist. We were born in a racist society," says a white adult in Not Another Love Story ( Garisch 2 ).

They are also psychologically disabled by violence. "How can anyone make sense of someone walking into a pub and shooting down people who are just peacefully enjoying a drink on a Saturday night?" asks Daniel's father in Boikie, You Better Believe It ( Hofmeyr 129 ). He really can't help his son except by being faithful in the search for answers.

As might be expected, the post-1994 novels in South Africa are less optimistic than early 1990's novels. This change in tone from the high expectations of a honeymoon to the more sober but still optimistic realities of a good marriage can be seen in Michael Williams's books. In Crocodile Burning ( 1992 ), everything turns out well: Seraki finds his assertive, creative self and makes money, too; his father finds a job; his mother becomes self-employed rather than working for whites; his brother is released from prison. The promises of the new South Africa are met as soon as Mandela is released. "America may be the New World," the protagonist says as his musical becomes a hit on Broadway, "but South Africa is a newer world. People are fighting the evils that surround them, trying to build something beautiful, something unique. A new world has started there today." ( 164 ).

By contrast, his later book, Who Killed Jimmy Valentine? ( 1996 ), is much darker. The protagonist is a compassionate White police detective trying to solve a mystery. He's also trying to figure out what has gone wrong in two families, one Black, one Coloured, whose hopes for economic advancement and for their murdered sons were so high. The new South Africa still holds promise, but finding individual balance and societal balance turns out to be a long-term process, not an easy transition. Balance does not come by abandoning one's own racial identity but by expanding one's knowledge of the other.

As young adult fiction extends the national dialogue with new characters, new settings, more diverse points of view, an exploration of tensions and new rules, do these writings sacrifice literary value to political points? Or do they tell a good story, create believable characters, enhance our understanding of the human condition, and provide pleasure in the telling?

Although African youth fiction is traditionally didactic, young readers dislike books that are too preachy or too obvious. Even some good books have their clumsily preachy moments. "Who were these people who wanted them to always remember that she was brown and he was not," asks the protagonist in Joe Cassidy ( Smith 41 ). The flat characters in Naidoo's books are less important than the situations (poverty in the villages, the pain of forced removal, the problem of street children) she wants to reveal. To satisfy an audience's desire for action and clear answers, some books are overly dependent on violence or coincidence, such as the way a father is found in Mpho's Search.

Even though authors are no longer accepting the White child's world as the norm, the books are not yet a rainbow of authors and sensitively developed protagonists. "What is [still] not being written about is what it is like to be 'me' in an ordinary Black environment," says Karen Press of Heinemann Centaur, publishers of a teenage novel series ( Garson 1995 ). Only a couple of South African Black writers of adult fiction have also written for young people, including Mphahlele with Father Come Home and Zakes Mda, writing for the educational market. Dianne Case was one of the first Coloured writers of young adult fiction, writing Love, David ( 1986 ) and 92 Queens Road ( 1991 ) about her own neighborhood in Capetown.

In recent years, some publishers have made strong efforts to find, encourage, and publish young adult books by writers of color. Some of the results have been formulaic and overly sensational but should improve as writers gain hold in a languageÑEnglish-- that is often their third or fourth acquired. In the meantime, White writers have, at least, given White children a sympathetic insight into Black lives ( Jenkins 48 ). Understanding of reasons for economic differences and even for abusive behavior (unemployment and powerlessness) have been attempted.

Despite some shortcomings in literary quality and broad authorship, young adult literature has flourished in the 1990's in ways that it did not flourish before. There has been a flowering, a renaissance of this genre in this region, because of the political imperative, a need for the discussion to be carried to a new generation with the hope that "they" will deal with it better than "we" did.

Perhaps politics and race relations are still overbearing in South African youth novels, but the sensitive exploration of the political adds a depth to these novels that "problem novels" have not had. Unlike the teenagers in West Side Story who try to run away to find "a place for us," South African youth belong not to a world of their own but to a nation that is attempting to remake the whole place. If writers have value in sorting out momentous human changes, their value is intensified in young adult fiction.

Works Cited

(An * indicates the title is usually available in the U.S., either in libraries or bookstores.)

Bailey , Dennis. Khetho. Isando: Heinemann. GAP Books, 1994.

Beake , Lesley. Cageful of Butterflies. Capetown: Maskew Miller Longman. Young Africa Series, 1989.

___________. The Strollers. Capetown: Maskew Miller Longman, 1987.

Bowie , Beryl. Mystery at Cove Rock. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1991.

__________. Pedal Me Faster. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman, 1995.

__________. Play Music. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman Young Africa Series, 1996.

Bransby , Lawrence. The Boy Who Counted to a Million. Capetown, Johannesburg, Pretoria: Human & Rousseau, 1995.

Braude , Sandra. Mpho's Search. Cape Town: Oxford U. Press, 1994.

Bregin , Elana. The Red-Haired Khumalo. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman Young Africa Series, 1994.

Case , Bonita. Wart. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1995.

*Case , Dianne. 92 Queens Road. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991.

___________. Love David. Capetown: Maskew, Miller Longman, 1986 (7?).

Garisch , Dawn. Not Another Love Story. Isando: Heinemann. GAP Books, 1994.

Hofmeyr , Dianne. Boikie, you better believe it. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1994.

*Mphahlele , Ezekiel. Father, Come Home. Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1984.

*Naidoo , Beverley. Chain of Fire. New York: Harper Collins, 1989.

*_______________. Journey to Joburg. New York: Harper Collins, 1986.

*_______________. No Turning Back. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.

Robson , Jenny. Don't Panic Mechanic. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1994.

____________. One Magic Moment. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1996.

*Seed , Jenny. The Great Thirst. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1971. Bradbury Press, 1974.

___________. The Hungry People. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1994.

___________. A Place among the Stones. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1987.

Slingsby , Peter. The Joining. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1996.

Smith , Janet. Joe Cassidy and the Red Hot Cha-Cha. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman, 1994.

Weideman , George. Parade of the Misfits. Currently available only in Afrikaans as Die optog van die aftjoppers. Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1994.

*Williams , Michael. Crocodile Burning. Cape Town: Oxford U. Press, 1994.

*______________. Into the Valley. Capetown: Tafelberg, 1990. New York: Philomel Books, 1993 (first American edition).

_______________. Who Killed Jimmy Valentine? Cape Town: Oxford U. Press, 1997.


*Coles , Robert. The Political Life of Children. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986.

Garson , Philippa. "More than just a trashy romance," Review of Books, supplement to Mail & Guardian, August 1995: 3.

Gerwel , Jakes and Linda Rode, comp. Crossing Over. Roggebaai: Kwela, 1995.

*Jenkins , Elwyn. "South Africa," Country Survey. Bookbird. 36:1 (Spring 1998): 46-50,

*Kuzwayo, Ellen. Call Me Woman. San Francisco: Spinsters Ink, 1985.

*Maddy , Yulisa Amadu and Donnarae MacCann. "Ambivalent Signals in South African Young Adult Novels." Bookbird. 36.1 (Spring 1998): 27-32.

*Methabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy. 1986. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.

*Modisane, Bloke. Blame Me on History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986.

*Mphahlele, Ezekiel. Down Second Avenue. 1959. New York: Anchor Books, 1971.

*Paton, Alan. Cry the Beloved Country. 1987. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

*van der Walt, Thomas. "The Development of Afrikaans Children's Literature." Bookbird. 36:1 (Spring 1998): 22-26.

Note from the authors: The books that are most available are Dianne Case's 92 Queens Road, Beverly Naidoo's three books, Jenny Seed's The Great Thirst, Michael Williams's two books, and Ezekiel Mphahlele's Father Come Home. Possibly available online are Cageful of Butterflies, The Strollers, The Boy Who Counted to a Million, Mpho's Search, The Hungry People, A Place among the Stones, and Joe Cassidy and the Red Hot Cha-Cha.


Judith Bentley teaches composition and literature, including young adult, children's and cross-cultural coming-of-age literature, at South Seattle Community College, Washington. She is the author of 15 nonfiction books for young people. Research for this article was completed at the University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia, and the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown, South Africa, in January, 1999.

Peter Midgley has been a lecturer at Vista University, Mamelod Campus, in South Africa. He is a former education officer at the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown. He is pursuing a PhD in Children's Literature at the University of Edmonton, Canada.

Reference Citation: Bentley, Judith and Peter Midgley. (2000) "Coming of Age in the New South Africa." The ALAN Review , Volume 27, Number 2, 52-58.