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Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 8.18.16 PM20 July 2017 – The 25th Children’s Africana Book Awards winner Amagama Enkhlululeko! by Equal Education looks at the history of colonialism and Apartheid through a blend of history and storytelling. Its combination of short stories, essays and poetry with glossaries to explain words and questions to facilitate discussion makes this book highly recommended for teachers and learners.

It can now be read and dowloaded on the Digital Classroom, free of data charges for Vodacom users.


Words for Freedom: Writing Life Under Apartheid

“Why did African men leave their homes to work on the mines of the Witwatersrand? How did a woman searching for her husband make a life in the city? What happened to a family or community forcibly removed from their homes or their land? How did racial classification destroy families and communities? What thoughts went through a detainee’s mind during their long hours in prison? How did black people in South Africa manage to keep the fires of resistance burning under such harsh social, political and economic conditions? How did people born into such a hopeless present keep their dignity and resolve?

With a foreword by Zakes Mda, and a mixture of famous and seemingly forgotten struggle writers, this anthology tackles the history of colonialism and Apartheid from the ground up. Through a blend of history and story-telling, it opens a window onto the ways ordinary, everyday life was shaped by the forces of history. It displays the anger, suffering, love, joy, courage and enduring humanity of ordinary people and communities striving for dignity, freedom and justice.”


Highly recommended for teachers and learners

The book is organised around six themes:

  • Colonialism and Racial Capitalism
  • The Making of Apartheid,
  • Black Spots and Forced Removals,
  • Repression and Political Quiet,
  • Black Consciousness and the Soweto Uprising, and
  • Emergency and Revolt.

Each section begins by providing a general historical context and explaining the meaning and importance of the theme. In addition it contains glossaries to explain words and concepts and each section is followed by questions to facilitate further discussion. 

Amagama Enkululeko! was awarded best new book for olders readers in the 25th Children's Africana Books Awards in 2017. As African Access reviewer Lesepo Malege states “Amagama Enkululeko! is a teacher’s and learner’s delight. It is well-organized and presented in a way that is bound to facilitate learning. This book is highly recommended for general readers and especially for teachers and learners.”

To read and/or download (PDF, 2.5MB) the book please click here.


Introduction by Zakes Mda

IMG 0550Zakes Mda at the launch of Amagama Enkululeko! at Bridge Books, 11 October 2016Below please find Zakes Mda’s introduction to the book in which he calls to the storyteller in each of us to record our present, our thoughts about it and our actions to make things better for the future:

“Today’s equalisers are heirs to generations of resistance. Some of the voices of South Africa’s struggle for freedom from colonial and apartheid rule are captured in this book. It is a rich collection with works ranging from a 1929, poignant story by RRR Dhlomo, to a 1964 Nat Nakasa non-fiction piece, to the poetry of Oswald Mtshali that gained popularity after the publication of his anthology in 1971, to the musings of the contemporary cultural commentator Eric Miyeni. These works speak eloquently of our past, but they also speak of our present, for indeed the past is a strong presence in our present.

Why do you keep harping on about the past? The past is gone, done and buried. Why can’t you just forget it and move on? You said you forgave the past, so why can’t you forget it as well?

These are questions we often hear whenever a project that explores the past, such as this one, is initiated. Some of us tend to think that forgiving and forgetting are either the same thing or should, of necessity, go together.

To forget the past is not only to have amnesia about where we come from but about who we are. Like all members of the human race we are who we are today because of who we were yesterday. We have been shaped by our past for better or for worse. Our very identities are tied in with our individual and collective memory. We are often reminded of the saying: you will not know where you are going unless you know where you come from.

Forgetting the past would be forgetting the legacy the writers in this collection have bequeathed us, and indeed all other legacies that have shaped our humanity.
However, we must not remember the past selectively. We often hear that history is actually the story of the victor. We only hear of the events in which those who triumphed and became the ruling elite participated, to the exclusion of all others who also played a crucial role in our struggle, and made those victories possible. We hear this history only from the perspective of the ruling elite, valorising themselves and toasting their heroic exploits with expensive champagne, while the masses look on and have only their saliva to swallow. The stories and poems such as we have in this collection remind us that the ordinary people who bore the brunt of colonial and apartheid oppression are the true makers of history. We forget that at our peril.

The most important thing about remembering the past is not just to honour and celebrate those who fought for liberation, it is to reflect on the inhumanity of what was done to us, so that when we have attained some power we do not do the same to others. Alas, our memories are short and the arrogance of power knows no bounds. That is why quite often yesterday’s victim and survivor become today’s perpetrator and persecutor.

We must remember the past, yes, but we must not be steeped in it and live only for it. In that instance we become immobilised by perpetual victimhood. The heroism of yesteryear does not feed your stomach today. We do not want to be like a stuck car whose tyres keep spinning in the mire, unable to move forward. We move on, we act, we achieve, we hold those in power accountable as equalisers do every day. For we are working for the future.

One way of working for that future is to keep a record – even if it is just a journal – of the
present, of how things are and what you did to make them better for you and those who will come after you. Hopefully after reading the stories and poems in this collection you’ll be inspired to write your own.

There is a writer, or at least a storyteller, in all of us.”


More information about Equal Education can be found on their website, Facebook page and via Twitter


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