Reading Before You Go

While the kids read about South Africa, the adults read as well, choosing other books to add insight to the country and to our trip.

A few years ago, I read three books about South Africa, recommended by a friend after she had lived in the country for 7 years. I read about Apartheid in Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton and post-Apartheid in Disgrace by J.M. Coetze. In When the Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head, I read about tribal traditions and modern day conflicts. In these three books, I first gained an insight into some of the struggles and conflicts of the country of South Africa.

Before we left the U.S., I read about the Dutch first arriving on the African continent in The Covenant by James Michener, I learned about pass laws and police raids during Apartheid in excerpts from the autobiography Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane and in the children’s book, Journey to Jo’Burg by Beverly Naidoo, banned in South Africa during Apartheid. I learned about women slaves and prisoners on Robbens Island in the 1800s while reading Unconfessed by Yvette Christianese.

As we explored Cape Town, I read about Apartheid and townships from the point of view of a white woman in The Age of Iron, another book by Coetze, while my husband read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. As we traveled to Lesotho, I learned about life for women in Lesotho while reading Mpho ‘M’atsepo Nthunya’s autobiography, Singing Away the Hunger. As we explored Kruger National Park, I learned about running a game lodge and an elephant sanctuary while reading The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony.

Each book gave me an insight into a different aspect of the country, its history, and its people. For more and different book ideas, check out your library, look in travel guides and do a few internet searches. Have fun reading!

One thought on “Reading Before You Go

  1. A friend just recommended another 2 books: “Don’t Look Behind You” and “Whatever You Do, Don’t Run” both by Peter Allison and both fast reading and very funny. I’ll be reading them next.


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