It will certainly appeal to any adult, thinking member of South African society, particularly descendants of the original colonizers who are currently embroiled in political change and social transformation – Professor Deirdre Byrne
From the Publisher
Lekgowa is a challenging read. It is not for anyone who is looking for a light read! The rewards of reading Lekgowa, though, far outweigh the challenges. Harding presents himself as sometimes miserable and crippled by his family dysfunctions, but relentlessly courageous in his search for the truth about himself, as a white person and as a fully functioning member of South African society.
In the end, the courage to confront his personal demons and the demons of our country wins out. He faces down opposition and creates an authentic identity, not only as a “gentleman farmer”, but as a man who has made peace with himself. This can definitely be one of South Africa’s bestsellers!
About the Author, Tony Harding
Tony Harding was born in the upper strata of English-speaking white Capetonian society in the last century. He grew up in an era when members of his class were firmly, if a little desperately, trying to maintain their identity as colonials in a foreign country. He is now a social entrepreneur focusing his work on education in rural areas in South Africa.
About the Book – Lekogwa
“The author’s journey into his own psyche, including the racial identities that he inherited from his social class and the pathologies of his family lineage, is narrated in Lekgowa. His external journey was driven by his conscious and unconscious need for authenticity within a deeply divided society. The text uses the tools of autobiography, genealogy and sociology to explore the mechanisms by which identity is constructed and maintained.
A central presupposition of Lekgowa is that identity is never fixed, but is founded on cultural and national myths – and that these are open to deconstruction. The uncovering of his true hybrid identity – his Moroccan and Sephardic Jewish origins – and the search for an authentic South African identity – has been a courageous project, marked by a number of dramatic psychological experiences. “
Preface, Professor Deirdre Byrne
Lekgowa stands alongside Antjie Krog’s recent text, Begging to be Black, as a powerful contribution to the complex and fraught discourse about identity in the ‘new’ South Africa. At the same time, the text’s intensely personal nature makes the challenges it poses to received ideas accessible and direct. It will certainly appeal to any adult, thinking member of South African society, particularly descendants of the original colonizers who are currently embroiled in political change and social transformation.
In the past five years South Africa has seen an upsurge of “life writing”, telling the stories of ordinary people in the post-apartheid era.
Lekgowa’s intended audience is black and white South Africans. One of Harding’s stated intentions is to enlighten black readers about the conflicts and difficulties – what he calls the “myths” and “magic” – of constructed white identity.
Harding moves between various “chapters” of his own past with apparently nonchalant disregard for the reader’s desire for closure. The reader is drawn into multiple explorations of varied identities, along with his ruminations on life, death and near death; the role of ancestors in the world of the living; and his own lack of resolution with regard to his maternal bloodline.