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This is the story of Comrade September, a member of the ANC and its military wing, MK. He was abducted from his hideout in Swaziland by an apartheid death squad in August 1986 and taken across the border to South Africa, where his interrogation and torture began. It was not long before September began telling his captors about his comrades in the ANC. By talking under torture, September underwent changes that marked him for the rest of his life: from resister to collaborator, insurgent to counter-insurgent, revolutionary to counter-revolutionary and, to his former comrades, hero to traitor. This book is about these changes and about the larger, neglected story of betrayal and collaboration in the struggle against apartheid. It seeks to understand why September made the choices he did—collaborating with his captors, turning against the ANC, and then hunting down his comrades—without excusing those choices. Looking beyond the black and white that still dominates South Africa’s political canvas, the book examines the grey zones in which South Africans, combatants and noncombatant, lived. It seeks to contribute to scholarly attempts to elaborate a denser, richer and more nuanced account of South Africa’s modern political history. It does so by examining the history of political violence in South Africa; by looking at the workings of an apartheid death squad in an attempt to understand how the apartheid bureaucracy worked; and, more importantly, by studying the social, moral and political universe in which apartheid collaborators like September lived and worked.
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Jacob Dlamini is a writer whose work has appeared in a number of publications, including the Sunday Times and Weekender. He was recently awarded a PhD from Yale University and is the author of Native Nostalgia.Review:
'Subtle, touching and often quite lovely ... It's core is a warm and often amusing form of personal storytelling, replete with a kind of gentle irony, that enriches one's understanding of past, present and the relation between them.' - Shaun de Waal, Mail & Guardian 'Dlamini is a humdinger of a talent. He takes from his childhood a great jumble of objects - ... and almost at will, it seems, he makes them play ... Insouciant, pleasurable writing.' - Jonny Steinberg, Sunday Time
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