Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photo: Book with Ostrich egg

A friend asked me what the meaning was of this photograph which appears on my website. The image is of an ostrich egg resting on top of a book. I took the photograph myself as I contemplated the The Goat Herder's safely guided journey to publication.
I guess it can be interpreted in a number of ways. I leave the interpretation in the eye of the beholder :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Through the Streets of the Indian Quarter

One of my proof-readers who critiqued The Goat Herder was fascinated by the fact that there was such a large Indian population in South Africa; a wonderful cue for me to write this post about an amazing piece of what started off as a mainly Gujarati Indian community right in the middle of Durban, now the largest Indian community outside India.

The golden domed minarets of the Juma Masjid Mosque reflect the sun’s rays and tower above the bustling commercial and business centre around Grey Street. The muezzin’s quavering call to prayer filters through the covered arcade and joins the aromas of smouldering tandoori ovens and chicken tikka marsalas. No, you’re not in the Paharganj Market in New Dehli. This is Durban, South Africa.

When Nathi leaves his umuzi, his homestead on the slopes of the Nkandla Forest, and arrives in Durban, he meets Jacob who takes him on a walking tour of the district. They weave through the throngs in the Madressa Arcade off Grey Street. In an eatery where a friend of Jacob’s works, Nathi samples 'bunnychow' for the first time. An idea born of the city’s racist regulations when blacks were not allowed to be served in Indian restaurants, this half a loaf of hollowed-out bread filled with delicious curried mince was the perfect take-away. Then they follow the pungent incense and exotic spice fragrances to colourful Victoria Market, also home to Zulu herbalists and muti traders.

Before catching a taxi to the northern suburbs, Jacob has one last place to show his new friend. Nathi runs after him as he clambers up the winding stairs to the roof of the mosque. A bridge extends from the neighbouring girls' school between the two buildings. The flat roof, which is used for prayer during festivals is used as a playground during school days as the school is not equipped with one. The view over the city, the smells rising from the streets below and the sun setting behind a ribbon of smog stays with Nathi forever.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bridging the gap between black and white, Jew and Zulu

In my search for similar themes in literature to the ones in my novel The Goat Herder, I came across recently The Evidence of Love (1960) a short story by South African born novelist Dan Jacobson.

The Evidence of Love tells the story of a black man and a white woman who fall in love and attempt to defy South African law and custom by living together. The novel treats the theme of interracial love in a relaxed and naturalistic way and also highlights aspects of the individual struggle for freedom and the achievement of self-identity.In another short story a year before (1959), although less similar in theme to The Goat Herder, The Zulu and the Zeide tells the story about a lively Jewish grandfather (Zeide in Yiddish) whose family employs a Zulu as a carer. Their relationship bridges the gulf between black and white, the generation gap, Africa and Eastern Europe. The story juxtaposes the small-mindedness of a wealthy Jewish businessman with the unaffected humanity of the black servant he employs to care for his ailing father. Local prejudices, however, still persist.

This information was taken from the Free Encyclopedia If you’re interested in a more detailed biography of Dan Jacobson go to:

Dan Jacobson Biography - Dan Jacobson comments: