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The Longest March, by Fred Khumalo

The Longest March, by Fred Khumalo

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A hundred and twenty years ago, seven thousand Zulu mineworkers walked from the gold mines in Johannesburg to Natal, covering a distance of five hundred kilometres over ten days. This journey was their longest march.

It is 1899 and Philippa’s fiancé Nduku has just broken off their engagement. She is heartbroken – after all, she has followed him from Kimberley, where they first met, to the goldfields of Johannesburg. In this bustling new city, tensions are mounting between the South African Republic and the gold-hungry British Empire. When war is declared, the mines are shut down and migrant workers ordered to leave town.
But how do you get home and out of harm’s way when there are no running trains and home is hundreds of kilometres away? You walk.
Over perilous terrain – sleeping in the open, being attacked by wild animals and harassed by armed white farmers – Nduku and Philippa and seven thousand others walk.
Disguised as a mineworker’s wife, for Philippa is white, she and Nduku talk about their true histories, about their fears and hopes, with every footfall.
On their way to Natal, and on their long journey into their inner selves, the possibility of lasting happiness seems within reach – if only they can survive, and if only they can weather the storm of an unexpected third player in their troubled romance.
Set during an incredible event in South African history, Fred Khumalo’s new novel is a tale of heady determination, and a tribute to the perseverance and courage of ordinary men and women when faced with extraordinary circumstances.
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Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews

Beautiful, descriptive writing to tell the story of 7000 mineworkers walking from Johannesburg to KwaZulu Natal at the start of the South African war. I think what I liked the most about this novel is that it showed that in history people (people groups, countries, etc.) go through 'marches' and often we focus on the actual march; the logistics, consequences, the impact and so forth. And that's all really interesting, but we forget that in real life history is often just 'playing in the background' of our personal lives.

Rochelle Coetsee
The Longest March, by Fred Khumalo

With the tale of a love triangle that is complicated by outside causes such as the cultural and religious preferences and prejudices of the period, he has transformed the epic voyage into something private and personal. The ensemble of amazing, unique individuals, all observed with care and wit, with glimpses into their back stories in a series of interludes, enhance our knowledge and liking, are in bodily danger after an exciting beginning to the heroic march. The book is a compact, quick read since nothing is irrelevant and everything is significant.

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