I’ve just read two books hard on the heels of each other which are wonderful insights into African modernity and the complexity that is South Africa now. The first is Jonny Steinberg’s A Man of Good Hope, the story of Somalian Asad Abdullahi, who came to South African seeking his fortune after a life as a refugee drifting through Kenya and Ethiopia. The second is GG Alcock’s account of growing up Zulu in Msinga as a boy during the 1970s and 1980s under the apartheid regime, Third World Child.
These tightly focused tellings which tell the story of just one life of one man (and this of course is significant because they are very much about masculine experiences and choices), shed a great deal of light on social movements across our continent, South Africa’s relationship with other African countries, cities and rural areas, and old networks and relationships and how they endure — and enable survival — in the cities which still lure men with their promises of riches. Continue reading “Men of Africa and modernity”