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Stories of South African Women in Exile


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Author: Lauretta G. Ngcobo

Publisher: University of Natal Press

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Category: Biography & Autobiography

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During the years of apartheid rule in South Africa, many women 'skipped' the country and fled into exile to evade harassment, detention, imprisonment, and torture by state security forces. Leaving the country of their birth, many took calculated though dangerous risks to cross borders. Once in exile, sometimes for several decades, many women experienced discrimination, danger, deprivations, and the stress associated with being a foreigner in a strange land. All lived with the distant yet distinct hope that they would one day be able to return to a liberated homeland. In Prodigal Daughters, edited by Lauretta Ngcobo, 18 women tell their intensely personal stories of exile. They relive a past for the sake of fixing into memory narratives that would surely disappear in a country still struggling to shake off the shackles of racial inequality and oppression. Stories of being accepted or rejected in host countries and stories of homecoming, read like bittersweet memories of survival, longing, and intrigue. For many of these women, a life in exile enabled their growing realization that apartheid was just one facet of oppression in the world. It connected with much broader struggles for justice and human rights. South Africa has yet to fully appreciate the memories and records of life experienced in that 'desert of exile, ' experiences that have helped society become what it is today. Prodigal Daughters includes a full color illustrated section with photographs of the book's contributors during their life in exile, as well as more recent photographs. [Editor Lauretta Ngcobo returned to South Africa in 1994 after 31 years in exile. She was the winner of the literary lifetime achievement award from the South African Department of Arts and Culture in 2006 and the winner of the Order of Ikhamanga from The Presidency of South Africa for excellent achievement in the field of literature in 2008.