The Closest of Strangers: South African Women's Life Writing

Paperback
The experiences of women from all race groups, classes, and political persuasions are brought to life in this compelling collection of extracts. Living in close proximity but often in vastly different realities, South African women were, in many ways, Close Strangers to each other, and their relationships were marked by both intimacy and alienation. This selection of writings draws on a large number of autobiographical texts by both ordinary and extraordinary women such as Sarah Raal, Emily Hobhouse, Pauline Smith, Phyllis Ntantala, Dr. Goonam, Katie Makanya, Pauline Podbrey, Norma Kitson, Bertha Solomon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Helen Joseph, Ruth First, Helen Suzman, Bessie Head, Mamphela Ramphele, Selestina Ngubane, Emma Mashinini, Marike de Klerk, Antjie Krog, Charlene Smith, and Maria Ndlovu. Together, these texts demonstrate the courage and strength of spirit with which South African women responded to personal and political circumstances in the twentieth century. As individuals, we saw we were all caught up in apartheid's far-reaching tentacles. White women could not escape the privilege which their colour bestowed on them. Black women could not escape the discrimination which theirs made them heir to. We were all brought face to face with the faceless them' we had known, without knowing, all our lives! --Sindiwe Magona Judith Lutge-Coullie lectures in the English Department at the University of Durban-Westville.