What a wonderful book about a wonderful woman!

In this heavy volume Margareth McCord writes the life story of Katie Makanya from South Africa. Katie was born in 1873 on the Cape. In the end she finds her destination as a worker for the American medical missionary dr. McCord. She works as an interpreter and a jack-of-all-trades. But the long history that leads up to this is described in a beautiful way.

Katie tells about her education that was so hard to get, the many times her parents moved, all the new places to settle, all the times the family could not live together. Her strong christian convictions and those of the family in which she was born.

An important occasion occurs when katie and her sister are invited to join a choir that will travel to England to perform. Katie will stay for some years in the United Kingdom and even sings for queen Victoria. She stays in England for  she gets the opportunity to get a professional training as a singer. However she makes the choice to go back to South Africa to be close to her people, to live there and to take care of her people. Her sister moved to the United States for further education. She returns to South Africa with her American husband. A brother to Katie moves to the United Stated and dies there at a young age.

The story told by Katie is intertwined with the history of South Africa, The English occupation, The Boeroccupation, the different wars, passlaws and the resistance. At one demonstration againt the passlaws Katie and McCord’s wife walk together at the front of the line.  We read about her life under apartheid, that gripped the country even more since 1948.

A moving moment is when Katie at old age is present at the opening of a new hospital in Durban. There she is surprised for one of the wards is named after her.

The writer Margareth McCord is a daughter to doctor McCord. She and Katie spent alot of time together when they were young. Katie related the story of her life to Margareth.

Margareth McCord – The calling of Katie Makanya: A memoir of South Africa – New York Cape Town 1995


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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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