A family’s journey in a callous time
14 Oct 2013
Mohamed F (Mac) Carim
BOOK REVIEWER: Annzra Naidoo
AS an (almost) born free, I was told countless stories about what is was like under the apartheid regime. Some of it was from my parents; most of it was from history books at school.
Although these stories and teachings made me think about what it was like in those times, this book made me think about what it would be like to experience it.
Coolie, Come Out and Fight! is a memoir written by Mohamed F (Mac) Carim that captures the callousness of apartheid without being a rant. Rather, Carim explores the memories of his life and the circumstances he faced, in a way that shows his understanding of the time, but with an emphasis on family and experience. The result is a nostalgic tale that may resonate strongly with many people in this country.
Starting from his grandparents’ arrival in South Africa from India, to his move to Nigeria, Carim tenderly tells the tale of his family, from all their hardships to all their joys. With an Indian father and coloured mother, Carim’s memories are filled with harsh points in-between carefree moments. The pace is slow, as Carim writes with incredible detail, but this does not detract from the story. We get to play in the streets of Troyeville, go off to boarding school and get arrested with Carim as he narrates the early years of his life. The way he and his family have persevered through many rough patches is truly inspiring. Older readers can reminisce on their own experiences during this time. For younger readers, reading this book is like hearing a story from a grandfather who teaches you about our important past in a way that does not feel like a lecture.