In April 1994, South Africa stepped back from the slough of endemic violence and danced its first bold dance with constitutional democracy. Millions of people entered into a state of euphoric rejoicing. The date marked the end of the apartheid past and the beginning of a brave new future.
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This is prizewinning author David Robbins’ twentieth book. Oblique Light is a collection of long short-stories set in Scotland and dealing with the alienation and amorality of self-imposed exile.
The William Humphreys Art Gallery (WHAG) in Kimberley is South Africa’s smallest nationally funded gallery. It is also the country’s most dynamic and innovative in terms of its response to the changing socio-political terrain in which it has operated during its 60-year life. From its origins as a typical colonial repository of imported culture, WHAG now holds one of the finest collections of the diverse streams of South African art. It also runs unique projects which have transformed the gallery from an isolated cultural enclave into the nerve centre for thriving outreach in the most desolate and marginalised – and starkly beautiful – region of the country’s hinterland.
A Controversial HIV/Aids programme, loveLife, began in the final few months of 1999 when South Africa’s epidemic was rampaging through the country’s young people, leaving millions dead. In 2019, after 20 years of sustained effort, the organisation is still going strong, but with some significant differences in approach. Large-scale American funding had been guaranteed for five years and was provided for ten. The famous billboards that had characterised the first decade disappeared for economic reasons for the second.
Private Excavations is superb travel writing with a profoundly important purpose. It is also a very necessary book for our rapidly polarising global village.
A journey through snow-clad northern Europe uncovers the fateful impact of a ‘one-truth’ vision of the world. By using as a platform important Scandinavians (writer August Strindberg and Advard Munch) the author explores absolutist thinking in its various religious and political guises. His fluid style blends evocative description with philosophy and history (especially art history) and persuades the reader towards a more humane understanding of existence. The extremists deny this point of view, content instead to seek salvation from an unacceptable world via their one-truth dogmas.
After the return to South Africa from the international family, it became possible for David Robbins to travel regularly in other parts of Africa. He had at last, he said been released from the bondage of apartheid into his broader home. The result of this release is Searching Africa, containing over twenty travel narratives that take the reader from the continent’s expiring settler south to the Sahara and beyond.
A soul that is afraid of dying has never learned to live … This is the precept by which Dick Mawson has lived his adventurous life. He was born in England during the Second World War. With his parents he crash landed into southern Africa where he grew up.
Walking to Australia describes a 21st-century journey which roughly follows the direction taken by anatomically modern humans who, some scientists conjecture, left the African nursery around 85-thousand years ago in search of survival, and who reached Australia 20-thousand years later.
Forty years after coming of age in South Africa in the 1960s, the author unearths a forgotten manuscript written at that time. Through rereading this early work, he revisits the political and religious falsehoods that had characterised the context of his genesis as a writer, particularly as revealed by the fictional characters that he then created.
Two women have been damaged by the realities of the time, one crushed by the withering world of Afrikaner urbanisation, the other by the devastating impact of racially defined morality. They bring tragedy and greater maturity to the central character, a young visual artist who falls in love with both these shattered individuals.