MARULA RIDGE South Africa, 1989
Under the Apartheid regime, only the white minority can vote. They cling to power as Nelson Mandela's banned African National Congress organizes an underground army to overthrow white rule. Simon, a 15-year-old black boy, leaves Marula Ridge, the farm where he was born, to join the fight for change. He travels to Johannesburg, eluding the police with the help of a old man: “A cunning jackal can outwit even a mighty rhinoceros.”
Susannah, a sheltered 13-year-old from an affluent white family in Johannesburg, must go to her uncle’s farm, Marula Ridge, while her parents are in London: “Six weeks on a stupid farm.”
The tumultuous events these two young people experience will define their values and, ultimately, change the course of their lives.
The bus struggled uphill, belching black smoke with every grinding gear change, carrying Simon on a journey from the Lowveld to the top of the escarpment. Never before had he ventured this far from the sheep pastures of Marula Ridge, the farm where he was born. He’d climbed aboard at dawn, excited to be leaving his old life behind, but already he missed his home, his mother and his little brother, Gideon. He hadn’t listened when they begged him not to leave. He’d been so eager to follow Nelson Mandela’s call to arms; so determined to join the guerrilla movement fighting to free his people. Now twinges of fear and uncertainty began gnawing at his belly. How could he, a poor Zulu farm boy, help overthrow Apartheid? He must have been crazy to believe such a dream.