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Author Toko Loshe paints Shades of Africa: KWASUKA SUKELA – A long time ago in a land where black was not white as shown through life of Shirley as she grows up during the years of racism and apartheid and the black power push for communism; a time when both sides are right and wrong.

This narrative follows the story of a white girl Shirley Schreiber and her family. Growing up in South Africa and Rhodesia during the early years of racial discrimination including the apartheid years – 1944–1972, Shirley and her experiences will let readers have a glimpse of the Africa way back in time.

Read on and relive the struggles of a nation that inched its way to where it is now.



Kwasuka Sukela
Loshe , Toko
Xlibris (236 pp.)
$24.19 paperback
ISBN: 978-1-5035-0365-6; March 21, 2015

A photo album in prose about the brutality of life in British South Africa.

Loshe’s debut novel offers glimpses into the unrelentingly sad and violent life of Shirley Schreiber in the British South

African territories in the mid-20th century (now Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa). Shirley and her siblings are

raised by her mother and a brutish drunk of a father who drags them from Durban to Port Elizabeth to the Transvaal and

points north in search of work and, later, safety. Businesses are festooned with signs reading “Nee blanks nee”

(Afrikaans for “Nonwhites No”) and the sound of tribal drumming fills the air. As the narrator, Shirley remembers and

vividly recounts the almost incomprehensible cruelty of the men around her: her father bloodies her brother and mother,

a close relative rapes Shirley herself, and revolutionaries behead a gentle servant and burn a woman to death in her car.

The man she marries when she comes of age attempts to murder her twice, then threatens to kill their children. Halfway

through the story, just as readers assume things can’t get any worse, they’re warned that “the terrifying ordeals that we

had survived had only been the beginning.” This is not merely a collection of horror stories, however: Shirley loves the

wilderness, enjoys sweet moments with her mother and sister, and feels joy. But because so much of what happens is

narrated from a young girl’s point of view, these scenes carry a strange, varying weight: through a small child’s eyes,

bouts of sickness and “Soft, yellow, baby chickens” assume the same narrative importance as rapes and beheadings. As a

result, this is a novel of subjective reportage, not objective analysis. Still, though readers may not know why or even

when events are happening, they’re always presented with vivid pictures of what is happening. Readers won’t be able to

stop reading in order to learn more about this bad, vanished world.

A deeply impressionistic, compelling novel about a young girl’s life in the waning days of the British Empire.


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