A heart-breaking memoir of a family separated by apartheid legislation
Toni Strasburg's account of being raised by her activist parents, Rusty and Hilda Bernstein
‘I always tried to be cheerful when I saw my mother. I never told her that Frances was sad and weepy and wouldn’t eat, and that Keith was clingy and woke me several times a night, or that Pat was withdrawn and hard to approach.’
Activists Rusty and Hilda Bernstein were arrested with many other South Africans following the 1960 state of emergency and held for three months without trial.
Toni, their eldest, at 16 was left to look after her three younger siblings and was their only child allowed to visit them in jail.
Hilda kept a diary of her time in detention, filled with letters to the children, drawings for the younger siblings, poems, plays and menus she made to keep her fellow detainees entertained.
Years later, Toni pieces together her mother’s diary, snippets from her father's writing and her own recollection, trying to make sense of this tumultuous time.
Holding the Fort is the heart-breaking story of a family separated by unjust laws.
"Toni is an amazingly brave woman to write about this period in her life with such cogent composure. We went through the same experiences as a family and we are scarred with anger. She is truly her mother's child - ever so rational as she makes sense of the brutality of apartheid and its impact on the most vulnerable - the children," says Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Toni Strasburg left South Africa in exile with her parents in the 1960s after the Rivonia Trial. She is a filmmaker and has documented apartheid-era wars in southern Africa, concentrating largely on the effects of women and children. Toni’s award-winning films include Chain of Tears, The Other Bomb and A South African Love Story. She has served as an International Peace Monitor and Election Observer for the UN.
- Article provided by NB Publishers