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Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane Invokes the “Fabulous Decade” of the 1950s in Children of Paradise

Children of ParadiseLewis Nkosi, doyen of African letters, called the 1950s the ‘fabulous decade’. It was a decade that threw up some of the most remarkable political struggles of African people against European oppression – from the Defiance Campaign to the women’s anti-pass march, bus boycotts and the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in 1955, which became the blueprint for change in South Africa.

These events form the backdrop to the quirky narratives. Set in the vibrant community of the (now extinct) Brakpan Old Location outside Johannesburg, the stories bring to life the seminal moments of the period. The charm and humour of the collection is provided in plentiful supply by its small narrator, Baba Boy. He offers an unusual (often hilarious) eye view of the unfolding events – and of the eccentricities of the character cast of courageous Congress women, such as Grace Rasekoala, MaMtlane and others, who took part in them.

Children of Paradise celebrates, above all, the resilience of people who chose to be not victims but ‘creative fighters’ against a system that sought to dispossess them of dignity and humanity.

‘Quietly exhilarating, suffused with exuberance in an apparently artless recording of time and milieu and inner experience.’ — Robert Greig, author and book critic

About the author

Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane was born in Brakpan in 1948 and was the first post-apartheid Vice Chancellor and Rector at the University of Fort Hare. He has taught English Studies, Comparative Literature, and African Studies at universities in Southern Africa, West Africa, Europe, US, and Australia. He is a widely published author and editor, and his works include Bernard Magubane: My Life and Times (2010) and Words Gone Two Soon: A Tribute to Phaswane Mpe and K. Sello Duiker (2006) amongst many others. He is the Project Leader and General Editor of an initiative begun in 2008, under the auspices of the National Department of Arts and Culture, to produce an Encyclopaedia of South African Arts, Culture, and Heritage (ESAACH).

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