• Alexander O

In the Fog of the Season's End - Alex La Guma

In the Fog of the Season's End is a novel counted among the Heinemann African Writers Series that gave a voice to great African writers such as Chinua Achebe, Okot P’Bitek and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.

First published in 1972, the book begins with a slow burn that quickly unfolds into a flurry of interconnected activity.

However, the slow burn is intentional. Set in South Africa's apartheid era, the novel gives a fuller account of the grind behind anti-apartheid struggle. The quietly calculated underground movement create a cold-civil war atmosphere as opposed to an action packed daily firefight.

In between the rebelling, the secret messengers, the police informants and the Security Police tortures, lies waiting, hiding, and daily life. The quiet atmosphere of the novel is added to by the story of each characters' lives between and around the underground movement.

The main characters, Beukes and Elias Tekwane are two average men of their time who have chosen the underground life of “mysterious rides, messages left in obscure places, and veiled telephone conversations.” The characters' lives are interestingly contrasted throughout the book, leading up to their singular meeting towards the end.

Beukes has a wife and child whom he constantly worries about in his life of political dissent. Elias Tekwane on the other hand is a bachelor, which is easier for a life on the run. They also have some similarities, like each loosing their fathers lost at a young age due to the cruelty of the apartheid system.

Curiously, we only get Elias Tekwane’s full name and back story. He dies in end, with a vision of his ancestor’s ghosts waiting for him on the horizon. From one perspective, the novel reads like his obituary, contrasted with another man of his time - Beukes - amidst the anti-apartheid struggle.

This is a book that an only reinforce one's love for African classics. Like most African classics, it draws from the injustices of the systems imposed on African countries in the colonial era. In the Fog of the Season's End highlights the bravery of average men whose small actions each day contributed to the downfall of Apartheid.

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