In another twist involving the public protector’s office‚ the Minister of Co-operative Governance an.
Oh no! Not another book about a woman who had a farm in Africa, I thought when I read the blurb to Holding up the Sky, the chronicle of a white Australian woman's experiences in South Africa.
Little did I know that I was going to be pleasantly surprised.
For starters, Blackburn-Wright came to South Africa as a student in the late 1980s. Her decision to come to the continent was influenced by a childhood infatuation with Africa as she saw it in National Geographic. At least, she was not naïve enough to think that she was going to a rich land that needed to be tamed and civilised or where wild animals roamed the streets.
Instead, she came to a country that was divided by apartheid and marred by violence. Shocked by the injustices that she saw, she aligned herself with the underdog. She worked for various Christian organisations with a focus on integrating and transforming black and white communities.
This involved living in a township in what was then Natal during the turbulent 1980s and early 1990s. She ate pap, lived in a shack, learnt to speak isiZulu, dodged bullets during faction fights, and fell in love. Drawn into the lives of the locals, she married a black South African man, forging deeper ties with the country.
Socialised differently, her relationship with her husband seemed to challenge the notion that black men were allowed to have more than one partner. It was also the epitome of what South Africa was trying to achieve.
Her dream of a happy marriage was, however, shattered when she discovered her husband's infidelity. She returned home to Australia disappointed, and so ended a rich and colourful life in South Africa.