i have just finished reading Antjie Krog’s ‘Begging to be Black’ [my first AK] and it was quite an experience. i thoroughly enjoyed it [thanks to tbV for a great birthday gift, 1 of 2] even though it was different stylistically to anything else i have ever read. In fact, refreshingly so.
What was most interesting about it to me, was that it contained three concurrent stories ranging from the time a murder weapon was hidden [and discovered] on her property and the court case that ensued, a jump back to the 1800’s and the story of Moshoeshoe, king of the Basotho as well as Antjie Krog’s time and experiences in Germany as she pursued a research fellowship in Berlin.
Three completely different stories, told in different styles even [her Berlin time is mostly witnessed through letters to her mother] and completely just bouncing from one to the other with no tangible links from the outset, but a convergence that picks up speed towards the end.
i would highly encourage my South African friends to give this book a read. As i continue on my journey to try and understand the history of my country through different voices and experiences, this felt like a really helpful guide, not of the full story, but definitely of a story that crossed the lines of race and culture in geography, experience and a deep sense of wrestling for identity.
i would like to share a few passages from the book which i think all come from Antjie’s wrestling with the identity question and what it means for a white person to try and understand what it means to be black or white and truly African as those were the ones which challenged me and got me thinking the most.
i hope they inspire you to wrestle with these themes as well and also hope they will be the nudge you need to find yourself a copy of this book and give it a read…