In the Eastern Cape, Stephen (Malusi) Mzamane, a young Anglican priest, must journey to his mother’s rural home to inform her of his elder brother’s death.
First educated at the Native College in Grahamstown, Stephen was sent to England in 1869 for training at the Missionary College in Canterbury. But on his return to South Africa, relegated to a dilapidated mission near Fort Beaufort, he had to confront not only the prejudices of a colonial society but the discrimination within the Church itself.
Conflicted between his loyalties to the amaNgqika people, for whom his brother fought, and the colonial cause he as Reverend Mzamane is expected to uphold, Stephen’s journey to his mother’s home proves decisive in resolving the contradictions that tear at his heart.
Marguerite Poland has successfully and eloquently mastered writing for both children and adults. Her landmark 1979 book The Mantis And The Moon is credited with establishing a market for indigenous children’s books in English in South Africa. Poetic, sensitively-layered and lucid, Poland’s novels for adults have won several prestigious awards. A meticulous researcher, she has also written a number of academic papers and reports.
Fluent in Xhosa and isiZulu, much of Poland’s work reflects her interest in African culture with some of her children’s stories in particular inspired by African oral traditions. Her keen understanding and appreciation of the South African landscape, its fauna and flora, as well as its peoples, is colourfully evident in her writing.Married with two daughters, Marguerite Poland spends her time between Grahamstown and Durban.