About me

Fire escape

I was born into apartheid.

Like most white people my age, I didn’t question it. We didn’t know any different.

And yet I saw things most white children didn’t see back then. My mother worked in the squatter camps as a social worker. The shacks were in the hills surrounding town, and I often went up there with my mother when she visited the creches and women’s groups that she’d helped to get off the ground.

To five-year-old me, it was just a fun day out, sweetened by the promise of a Kupugani cookie – a digestive biscuit which, I know now, was fortified with vitamins and minerals to give the malnourished black children some much-needed nutrition.

And still, I didn’t question why they lived up there on the hill, and we lived in town.

Only years later would I finally start asking questions. And nothing could’ve prepared me for the answers I found.

Photograph: Phillip Van Nostrand

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