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Apartheid in South Africa: Letlapa Mphahlele, Freedom Fighter and Commander of APLA (armed wing of PAC; Nelson Mandela had the same position in the parallel organization MK of ANC), gives us an insider's view into the heart of the armed struggle. After a childhood marked by a questioning, rebellious nature, the young Letlapa flees South Africa into exile, where he lives the nomadic life of a guerilla: swept from one end of Africa to the other, from refugee camp to prison cell to High Command. Enduring rigorous training, political infighting and the loneliness of a life led underground, the young cadre develops into a mature political thinker and effective commander. Mphahalele - quirky, emotional, unconventional and analytical - bursts our notions of a battle scarred guerilla: he is a philosopher and poet; above all a man of principle. He does not shy away from tough moral issues, nor does he shirk responsibility for his own often controversial actions. Child of this Soil is lively read, full of adventure and packed with affectionate anecdotes about struggle leaders, politicians, cadres and other vivid characters, brightened by Mphahlele's delightful self-deprecating humor. At a time when political parties, now represented in Parliament, were outlawed, for many the armed struggle promised the only way forward. In this telling account, Mphahalele's words remind us of the passion, risk and sustainable hope of those troubled years. Today Mphahlele is Member of Parliament and President of his party PAC and has substantially contributed to conciliation in South Africa.
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