a social policy of racial segregation
The genius of
apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other.
a dissenting clique
Long before apartheid existed these tribal
factions clashed and warred with one another.
a feeling of ill will arousing active hostility
Then white rule used that
animosity to divide and conquer.
uselessness as a consequence of having no practical result
The Xhosa waged a long war against the white man as well, but after experiencing the
futility of battle against a better-armed foe, many Xhosa chiefs took a more nimble approach.
purging of emotional tensions
The third church offered passion and
catharsis; it was a place where you truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit inside you.
come into the possession of
The more time we spent at church, she reckoned, the more blessings we
accrued, like a Starbucks Rewards Card.
resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires
Whenever I found myself up against my mother’s faith-based
obstinacy, I would try, as respectfully as possible, to counter with an opposing point of view.
a large number or amount or extent
Spates of violence broke out between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the ANC, the African National Congress, as they jockeyed for power.
compete or struggle for an advantage or a position
Spates of violence broke out between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the ANC, the African National Congress, as they
jockeyed for power.
include in scope
The ANC was a broad coalition
encompassing many different tribes, but its leaders at the time were primarily Xhosa.
spreading out in different directions
Eden Park sat not far from the
sprawling townships of the East Rand, Thokoza and Katlehong, which were the sites of some of the most horrific Inkatha—ANC clashes.
a close friend or associate
Another guy, his
crony, got out of the passenger side.
In addition to being violent gangsters, South African minibus drivers are notorious for complaining and
haranguing passengers as they drive.
casual and unrestrained in sexual behavior
The stereotypes of Zulu and Xhosa women were as ingrained as those of the men. Zulu women were well-behaved and dutiful. Xhosa women were
promiscuous and unfaithful.
make subservient; force to submit or subdue
To impose white rule, the Dutch colonists went to war with the natives, ultimately developing a set of laws to
subjugate and enslave them.
suitable to be used up
They did so because, in the mid-1800s, in what had been written off as a near-worthless way station on the route to the Far East, a few lucky capitalists stumbled upon the richest gold and diamond reserves in the world, and an endless supply of
expendable bodies was needed to go in the ground and get it all out.
sturdy and strong in form, constitution, or construction
To maintain power in the face of the country’s rising and restless black majority, the government realized they needed a newer and more
robust set of tools.
a publication containing a variety of works
compendium of those laws would run more than three thousand pages and weigh approximately ten pounds, but the general thrust of it should be easy enough for any American to understand.
an act or expression of criticism and censure
Race-mixing proves that races can mix—and in a lot of cases, want to mix. Because a mixed person embodies that
rebuke to the logic of the system, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.
a neutral zone between two rival powers
Indian areas were segregated from colored areas, which were segregated from black areas—all of them segregated from white areas and separated from one another by
buffer zones of empty land.
a consequence, especially one that causes complications
If you ask my mother whether she ever considered the
ramifications of having a mixed child under apartheid, she will say no.
overcome or allay
In the early 1980s, the South African government began making minor reforms in an attempt to
quell international protest over the atrocities and human rights abuses of apartheid.
make or work out a plan for; devise
So she stayed in town, hiding and sleeping in public restrooms until she learned the rules of navigating the city from the other black women who had
contrived to live there...
a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country
As a former trading colony, South Africa has always had a large
composed of people from many parts of the world
Hillbrow at the time was the Greenwich Village of South Africa. It was a thriving scene,
cosmopolitan and liberal.
remove from customary environment or associations
Estranged from her family, pregnant by a man she could not be seen with in public, she was alone.
an act passed by a legislative body
The doctors took her up to the delivery room, cut open her belly, and reached in and pulled out a half-white, half-black child who violated any number of laws,
statutes, and regulations—I was born a crime.
When I was born, my mother hadn’t seen her family in three years, but she wanted me to know them and wanted them to know me, so the
prodigal daughter returned.
organized opposition to authority
The township was in a constant state of
insurrection; someone was always marching or protesting somewhere and had to be suppressed.
one acting as a medium between the visible and spirit worlds
I come from a country where people are more likely to visit sangomas—
shamans, traditional healers, pejoratively known as witch doctors—than they are to visit doctors of Western medicine.
I come from a country where people are more likely to visit sangomas—shamans, traditional healers,
pejoratively known as witch doctors—than they are to visit doctors of Western medicine.
the calendar of a court
The court is presided over by a judge. There is a
docket. There is a prosecutor.
firm and dependable especially in loyalty
Your defense attorney has to prove lack of motive, go through the crime-scene forensics, present a
the trait of avoiding excesses
His name was
Temperance Noah, which was odd since he was not a man of moderation at all.
noisy and lacking in restraint or discipline
boisterous and loud.
conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
We found out much later in life that he was bipolar, but before that we just thought he was
small and insignificant
Dinky, as his name implies, was
making a false outward show
Dinky was trying to
masquerade as this patriarch that he wasn’t.
something or someone turned to for assistance or security
In Soweto you were always hearing about men getting doused with pots of boiling water—often a woman’s only
recourse. And men were lucky if it was water. Some women used hot cooking oil.
disease that involves the clouding of the lens of the eye
Her eyes had gone white, clouded over by
a small crude shelter used as a dwelling
You’d first build a
shanty on your plot, a makeshift structure of plywood and corrugated iron.
shaped into alternating parallel grooves and ridges
You’d first build a shanty on your plot, a makeshift structure of plywood and
cast a spell over someone or something
My mother gasped. “We’ve been
bewitched! It’s a demon!”
emblem consisting of an object such as an animal or plant
If someone has put a curse on you or your home, there is always the talisman or
totem, a tuft of hair or the head of a cat, the physical manifestation of the spiritual thing, proof of the demon’s presence.
an appearance in bodily form
If someone has put a curse on you or your home, there is always the talisman or totem, a tuft of hair or the head of a cat, the physical
manifestation of the spiritual thing, proof of the demon’s presence.