Dancing in the Dust: A novel by Kagiso Lesego MolopeDancing in the Dust: A novel by Kagiso Lesego Molope

Dancing in the Dust: A novel

byKagiso Lesego Molope, Pamela Mordecai

Paperback | January 1, 2002

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Is is the turbulent 1980s in apartheid South Africa, when even ordinary life is full of danger and uncertainty. What will tomorrow bring? Tihelo, a thirteen-year-old girl, lives with her older sister Keitumetse and ther mother Kgomotso in a township outside Pretoria. Kgomotso works as a maid for a white household in the city and has to depend on the neighbours to keep an eye on the girls; one day she does not come home. Keitumetse's boyfriend is a young freedom fighter on the run from the police. And Tihelo gets drawn into the "comrades" of the local student freedom organization, risking capture and torture by the dreaded police who make daily raids on the township. Life in this brutalized South Africa holds mysteries of other sorts. What happened to the girls' father? Why is Mma Kleintjie, a partly white "coloured" woman living in the township? Why is Tihelo herself fairer than the rest of of her family?

Dancing in the Dust is a moving story of growing up in a fearful, oppressive society, when the only comfort for the young is dream and romance, and the only free option that of rebellion.

Kagiso Lesego Molope was born in South Africa in 1976 where she also grew up, before moving to Canada in 1997. Dancing in the Dust is her first novel.
Title:Dancing in the Dust: A novelFormat:PaperbackPublished:January 1, 2002Publisher:Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1894770013

ISBN - 13:9781894770019

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from i loved this book!!!! this book is marvelous! it is a great read it taught me a lot about south african history. if you're looking for an interesting book that also gives a true depiction of life in apartheid-south africa than this is the book for you.
Date published: 2002-11-23

Editorial Reviews

A chilling coming of ageBy JIM BARTLEY Saturday, May. 17, 2003 Dancing in the DustBy Kagiso Lesego MolopeTSAR, 190 pages,$18.95Post-thunderstorm, the peach trees are denuded of their ripe fruit, the ground under them littered with mush. In this segregated black township in 1980s South Africa, 13-year-old Tihelo sits alone in the overheated air, half of her body in sun, half in shade."It didn't feel like one of those dangerous afternoons we were constantly anticipating, the kind where policemen in their obnoxious and invasive green vans roamed the streets . . . then left with a few victims."But the stillness leaves her missing the familiar cacophony, "weddings, parties, street fights, street games, or riots. Silence was chilling."Light and shade, heat and chill, consoling chaos and ominous calm. Kagiso Lesego Molope fills the first paragraphs of her debut novel with the tension of opposites. Her narrator lives between poles, in constant and exhausting anticipation of "death or celebration." In a land torn by volatile perceptions of light and dark, Tihelo has the burden of being not only Black, the capital B showing official designation, but lighter-skinned than her neighbours. "Even in my house everyone looked more like each other than they looked like me." Growing up, she quickly learned that questions about her pale skin only offended and shamed her mother.One day, as she's playing in the yard, her friend Tshepo asks if she knows how to make a petrol bomb. He proceeds to scrounge a beer bottle and a rag from the street trash, and before her eyes constructs a molotov cocktail, lamenting the lack of gas to fuel it. Not long after, he's taking part in riots with older boys and coming home covered in bruises.As Tihelo enters high school, she loses her best friend, Thato, to a new "multiracial" Catholic school. Thato's new classmates quickly instill contempt for her origins, which rubs off on Tihelo; envy and shame fester inside her, turning slowly to motivating anger as friends begin to raise her political consciousness.Returning one night from her cleaning job in a white district, Tihelo's mother is detained and beaten by police. It's a turning point. Once aghast at the idea, Tihelo finds herself working for the student wing of the African National Congress. Her duties include driving underage in borrowed cars, cruising remote roads to pick up the battered bodies of the missing. And then things get worse.Molope's scenes of police brutality and its human cost are almost cinematic in clarity. Tihelo's unembellished and dispassionate voice completely convinces as that of a young woman whose memory of torment and violation must be recounted with dry precision or not at all. The lack of emotion on the surface of this writing only better exposes its harrowing depths.Molope first makes her reader see and understand, then in the wake of seeing, feel the enormity of apartheid's atrocity, and grieve.Jim Bartley is The Globe's first-fiction reviewer.