Marguerite Poland's new novel is based on a true story

Celebrated author writes about a man's journey to his mother's home

30 September 2019 - 15:22

‘It is hard to be an exile … But it is harder to return.’

In the Eastern Cape, Stephen (Malusi) Mzamane, a young Anglican priest, must journey to his mother’s rural home to inform her of his older brother’s death. 

First educated at the Native College in Grahamstown, Stephen was sent to England in 1869 for training at the Missionary College in Canterbury.

On his return to South Africa and relegated to a dilapidated mission near Fort Beaufort, he had to confront not only the prejudices of a colonial society but the discrimination within the church itself. 

Conflicted between his loyalties to the amaNgqika people, for whom his brother fought, and the colonial cause he as Reverend Mzamane is expected to uphold, Stephen’s journey to his mother’s home proves decisive in resolving the contradictions that tear at his heart.