Themba, a mixed-race boy, and Alex, a white boy, negotiate the restrictions apartheid inflicts on their day-to-day lives to sustain their brotherhood over time. In 1980’s South Africa, the gap between the way Themba and Alex are treated is present in each and every moment. This story follows them as they mature and grow within this system, which recognizes Themba as a crime.
When they move on to high school, each goes their own direction. Themba finds a father figure and begins to understand the system that has antagonized him, which leads him to be active in politics and movements. Meanwhile, Alex has become pent up and prone to lashing out.
“My Brother Themba” is a novel that examines how two boys, the best of friends, are brought up and raised in apartheid South Africa. The way this evil governance affects them differently every day illuminates the human tragedy that can happen when evil people lead our countries. But with knowledge and awareness, there is hope. This, above all, is the story of a young man recognizing a system for what it is and rebelling against it.
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Michele van Rensburg
Born in Cape Town, South Africa to parents of English and Afrikaans heritage, Michele van Rensburg was aware of the visible signs of apartheid throughout her childhood. She developed an interest in politics as a young adult, but she was unable to pursue an academic career until she was in her late 30’s and had moved to the United Kingdom. Having worked in the business sector while in South Africa, she maintained a strong sense of social conscience and undertook years of voluntary work in disadvantaged communities.
Living in England, provided the ideal opportunity to develop her social conscience further, and she studied through the Open University, gained an honours degree and became a social worker. She worked for 10 years as a local authority child protection social worker. This was followed by 10 years as a children’s guardian in the Family Court system, simultaneously working 5 years as an associate lecturer at the Open University, tutoring and mentoring the next generation of social workers.
The human stories gathered throughout her life during apartheid and eventually a democratic South Africa, as well as her work with vulnerable children and families in the United Kingdom, led to many characters and ‘stories’ being locked inside her mind. After taking early retirement, she began to return to these stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and people in high positions with feet of clay. This inspired her to share these tales with you.
Michele van Rensburg is married and lives in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. She has two adult sons.
MY BROTHER THEMBA is a debut novel.