Back Cover Text: The world of apartheid was so perverse that if I could have been given the choice to be a very clever black kid or a very stupid white kid, if I wanted to live a good life I might have been well advised to choose being a stupid white kid. During apartheid, the cleverest black kid was likely not to achieve a quality of life that the dumbest white kid could achieve. Everything in South Africa seems to be about race. If you look back into the country s history, you ll see that it always was that way. Ours is a country defined by race, but there is one race that had the choice to make it that way. Heading for fifteen years into democracy, South Africa seems to be even more about race than ever. The rainbow nation sometimes seems more like a technicolour dreamcoat - after Joseph s brothers dipped it in blood. This book has been written for all the whites who still secretly, or not so secretly, believe that the reason our country is going to hell is because of blacks. Read this book - our country was hell. With every year that s passed since 1994, it has edged further from the flames. We re all still carrying our lighters though. In his distinctive style - sarcastic, poetic, at times shockingly direct, and often funny - Charles Cilliers has written the book about white racism that whites didn t want to see, but could do well to read. If they don t, then South Africa will perhaps continue to be about race for a long time to come - but whites, the very people who made it that way, and who now don t seem to want to talk about it much, are still the ones who can make that less so - if only we realised it. One of the most controversial books of the year, For Whites Only casts a light on the blackest days of whiteness, and encourages us all to clean out the skeletons we have in our collective closet.
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Charles Cilliers, one of South Africa s youngest emerging writers, first came to public notice in 2006 after collaborating with Gayton McKenzie on The Choice: The Gayton McKenzie Story. Since the publication of his second major title, For Whites Only, Charles s profile has grown and he is being recognised as a fearless new voice on the South African social and political landscape. For Whites Only casts him in a role that he inhabits very well: social critic, satirist, unifier and poet. As a confident speaker, Charles lives out his ideas and leaves audiences with something they can take with them: a greater sense of their own history, and what truly makes us South Africans. He has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town.Review:
No holy cows in sins of the past 28 October 2008 Bruce Fraser Having put down the novel For Whites Only only a day before my scheduled interview with author Charles Cilliers, I was beginning to feel intimidated. Here is a writer who definitely wears his heart on his sleeve. In his book he tackles the issue of racism in the white community with the finesse of a bull in a china shop. For Cilliers there are no holy cows. He slams the Afrikaner and English with equal venom, firing off salvos that will make the average white South African cringe. Imagine my surprise then, when confronted at Sowetan s reception area by this articulate, trendy, good-looking young man, who looks barely out of high school. I m surprised I m being interviewed by a white, he quipped. I m surprised you re so damn young, I fired back. Cilliers is laid-back. His body language is that of a confident person, someone who is comfortable with who he is; yet equally uncomfortable with the attitudes and actions of so many whites. Just the other day I spent some time in the Kruger National Park with family and friends and the statements made, often with subtle racial undertones, make me cringe. It s just plain ignorance, he says. Like so many of his generation, Cilliers was brought up in a home heavily influenced by right-wing politics. His early childhood was spent on a farm in Witbank where, he says, they grew nothing in particular . My father was a blacksmith in town but he wanted us to grow up with the freedom of living on a farm. It was a fun time. I was like a savage ... never bathing, climbing trees. It wasn t too long before a young Cilliers learnt about race. My best friend on the farm was a black boy. We would play from sunrise to sunset, but when my white friends from school came to visit, I used to tell him to lie low. So even then there was that unspoken assumption that black and white kept their distance. There was racism in me even at that early stage. Cilliers parents divorced when he was 13. While he and his father moved to Bloemfontein, his mother remained in Witbank, where she remains a concert pianist and teaches music. Cilliers soon found himself at that bastion of Afrikaner education in the Free State, Grey College. After matric it was a short journey up the road to Free State University, where he gained three degrees: journalism, communication science and linguistics, followed by a masters degree in creative writing in Cape Town. So, when did he realise things were not right in this country?. My parents were both AWB members. I used to be forced to dress up in this ridiculous khaki uniform and march in the sun. We were taught it was a battle of good versus evil. The whites were seen as God s chosen ones and blacks as Satan s savages. But some of these AWB people would be drunk and a couple of them looked seriously in- bred. I began to question if this was really good. It was about the same time that Madiba was released from prison. He just defied expectations and was completely dignified. This was supposed to be the anti-Christ, but just look at him... what a man. And then slowly my perceptions began to change. And how did the book come about? I originally wanted a black person to write the book but as I got more involved in the research I realised a white person should write it. It was meant to get people to understand what apartheid was about but then I realised the majority of whites do not feel guilty about apartheid because they are in denial. They deny their involvement, they deny the effect it had on so many people. They continue to cling to as many privileges as possible. Apartheid did not die in 1994. It is still very much with us today. This denial continues. --The Sowetan Newspaper
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Book Description X-Concepts Publications, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110620416092