André Brink is a well-known South African Author & « A Dry White Season » (Une Saison Blanche et Sèche) is his fourth book and one of the most famous. I personally discovered it in its French Version. Published in 1979, the book was soon banned from sale in South Africa by the Apartheid Government.
Its beauty lies in the simple way in which he describes the fight against apartheid. In my Monday post, I mentioned Steve BIKO which could be considered as a radical activist and on Tuesday, I instead through some light on SARAFINA, a super-engaged high school student. Those were all Black People. Indeed, when one describes fight against apartheid or as a comparison civil war movement in the U.S., the story generally focuses on the courageous deeds of the Black Minority.
In his acclaimed novel, André Brink takes the stand to describe apartheid from a white man lens. What happens when your values are at stake? What happens when supporting a system gives you hatred of your own self? BEN DU TOIT (key character of the novel) will have to answer these questions. He will face the violence and absurdity of the system in his search for answers around the supposed suicide in detention of his black friend NGUBENE. The latter was dying as a result for his own quest for truth around the supposed natural death in prison of his son Jonathan. The latter was arrested during the Soweto march, violently stopped by the police on 16th of June 1976.
André Brink has this talent in providing easy answers for a complicated story. Indeed, all white men in South Africa were not bad people. A great number of white men did feel the absurd injustice of the apartheid system. In the meantime, several people were too coward to fight back. Others genuinely believed that the white race was meant to rule the black one and therefore separation was mandatory. More generally for the majority there was too much to lose (security, social recognition, and money) in fighting against the government. All this can be understood very simply through the reading of « A Dry White Season ».
Therefore, the essence of the novel sits in his ability to lay out the different dilemmas which South African White people were facing. They are not exclusive to apartheid but rather tend to be common to all segregation/injustice systems. The collaboration with Nazis in France during the 2nd World War, the fight against communism in the United States during the Cold War can be other good examples. Suddenly, thanks to André Brink, apartheid becomes easier to understand and to condemn. No doubt the apartheid system banned the novel. Hollywood took the lead in 1989 with a movie starring Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando.
« Une Saison Blanche et Sèche » is a classic, a manual to civil protest written with great poetry. Most Recommended!
Anna KEDI SIADE ♦