Beverley Naidoo: Biographical elements and motivation for writing The Other Side of Truth
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1943. Now lives in Bournemouth, England, where she works as an NGOworker, Teacher, and Education Adviser.
She grew up as a white child under apartheid, and said she had been “brought up with blinkers” and led to believe that white people were superior and thatracism and discrimination were normal. When she realised how false this was, she became very angry at all the injustice around her - and how she was part of it, and when, later, she began to write, shewanted to write stories that would challenge narrow ways of seeing.
As a student she became involved in resistance to apartheid and, at 21, was detained for 8 weeks.
She was exiled from South Africain 1965 and wrote her first two novels in the UK. The first, Journey To Jo'burg, published in 1985, was banned in South Africa until 1991.
Much of her writing is inspired by the personal challengesyoung people face because of politics around them.
She had Nigerian friends in London who increased her awareness of the political situation in Nigeria, and when the government executed the activistwriter Ken Saro-Wiwa* in November 1995 she decided to set the beginning of her novel in Nigeria.
Beverley Naidoo spent several months researching the conditions and experiences of refugee childrenin the UK because she wanted to be thorough in her writing. It’s important to mention here that TOSOT is meant to be a children’s book, it was written for young people. Naidoo said she wanted to showyoung readers the serious and frightening experiences of refugee children, and (I quote) “write about young people who do amazing things to survive.”
* Ken Saro-Wiwa : Folarin Solaja had writtenabout him in his press articles just before the mother’s murder, so somehow Mama’s death is related to KSW + Jenny, in England, knows about him: KSW is a world-famous figure, his execution caused...
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