Title: Mine Boy
Author: Peter Abrahams
Reviewer: Moses Mubezi
Mine Boy is a novel that talks about the problems the African miners experienced during the apartheid in South Africa. It shows the struggle of Africans to attain equal rights and to be treated as human beings with dignity.
Peter Abrahams was born on March 3, 1919, in Vrededorp, Johannesburg, South Africa. Mine Boy was published in 1946.
The miners are subjected to inhuman treatment. Xuma, from the North, becomes the leading figure in the struggle to end the exploitation the Africans experience. On arrival to Johannesburg, he settles in Malay Camp with Leah.
City life is a new experience for Xuma, who has come to look for work in the mines. Mining is hard but Xuma is strong and learns fast. Miners have to grow loving their job as it would give them money to live on until the next pay; but it would also kill them slowly.
Xuma thinks that a man should not run if he has done no wrong. White people sold beer but if Leah did the same, she was penalised.
Xuma falls in love with Eliza, which points out the clash between traditionalism and modernity. He desperately wants Eliza’s love but she wants the comforts of a white man’s life. It is Maisy, the simple happy girl who genuinely loves Xuma.
Xuma’s role as a leader of his fellow miners puts him at the forefront of the struggle for the miners’ and the Africans’ dignity. Paddy Oshea, Xuma’s supervisor, makes Xuma realises that Africans are considered second class citizens by the apartheid regime. However, when Paddy and Xuma lead the strike, they are bound together by the belief that one is a man first then his colour follows.
In Mine Boy, we learn about the story of the city and the customs. The customs are the black people and the city are the whites. When the white people came, they were welcomed by the blacks warmly. The whites seemed ungrateful but since they were quiet, they thought they would not cause any harm but with time, the whites changed and they destroyed their culture.
The reviewer is an educationist and publisher