Monday, November 10, 2014

Shifting Colours

By: Fiona Sussman
Genre: Apartheid South Africa and Immigration
Location: FIC SUS

I want to tell you about Hazel, she is one special lady 25 years of age, lives in Khayelitsha  in CapeTown. She is real sad this week, her beautiful grandmother passed away. She raised Haz til she was 13-  after her Mum died of HIV aids. Then her dad came to her grandmothers around Hazel's 13th birthday and took her away from all she had known and dumped her in a "special school" where she could learn English. It was a homeless shelter. Haz did not speak Africaans or English, she only spoke Xhosa, she was in her own country relocated and abandoned. Today she is traveling back from her place of childhood- she buried her grandmother over the weekend and now at 25 she is trying to conquer the world that has made her battle any move she has made to progress. She remains a true hero for me, and a joy to call my African Daughter.
In a way Hazels story is like Miriam's story in this book- a young girl, black in colour, who is relocated and displaced. It is about caregivers trying to do the very best for the ones they love the most- heartbreaking decisions.  It is about discovering who you are, it is about the memories of a childhood that others take away but remain in your soul. It is about rediscovering and reconnecting. And for both Hazel and Miriam- it is about the scars the evilness of apartheid has etched on countless lives.

Celia Mphephu works as a maid for Mr and Mrs Steiner in a leafy, white man’s suburb of 1960s Johannesburg. When racial tensions in the country reach fever pitch and the Steiners plan to relocate to England, they offer to adopt Celia’s young daughter Miriam and raise her as their own.

But Miriam finds England to be very different to the place the Steiners have told her about. And so begins her long journey through the years, back to South Africa, to find her mother and herself.

Set against the violent backdrop of apartheid South Africa and then the calm of late twentieth century Britain, Shifting Colours traces the lives of a mother and daughter seperated by land, sea and heart0 rending circumstance.


This book is beautifully written, has a book cover with Jacaranda trees- so that makes it an immediate winner- and it is a must read for any South African who has forgotten! Lest we forget!

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