Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid by William Finnegan

By William Finnegan

William Finnegan's compelling account of a yr spent educating in a coloured highschool, "across the line," in Cape city, South Africa brings the irrationality and injustice of apartheid into concentration for the yank reader. A new preface, written after the author's statement of the historical 1994 elections evaluates the growth madeand no longer madetoward dismantling the apartheid method.

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Basically, it was their lack of nastiness. There didn't seem to be any outcasts among them. The least confident, least likable kids did not appear to lack for friends. Their social life in general seemed imbued with an amazing collective good sense. Not only were there ― 34 ― no class "stars," no in-crowd of popular kids, but there were no couples, no high school romances. Clear friendships existed between the sexes, but boys generally sat with boys, while girls hung out with girls (all in a marvelously easy physical intimacy).

So I was far from the front lines, with my junior geography classes, in this battle over the material in our syllabuses. Also, Napoleon's admonitions notwithstanding, I would be administering the year-end examinations to my students myself, whereas Tate taught matrics, and if he wanted them to have any chance of passing their government-administered exams, he had to prepare them to applaud the "civilizing mission" of the European settlers in South Africa, and to use hated terms like "Bantu" and "homeland," and not inside quotation marks either.

Ja , a teacher. " Malooi was a history teacher, who at that point was passed out in the sand not far from the fire. People laughed. Pieterse went on. "So the boy comes back one day to the farm to visit his parents. And they're very proud of him, you know. But the Boer who owns the farm is having problems with a troop of baboons who are raiding his mealies [corn] at night, stealing the knobs off the radio in his bakkie [pickup truck], and so on. ) He says, 'You're an educated man now. Perhaps you can convince these bloody baboons to voetsek [scram] somehow.

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