Why is non-fiction not often prescribed as a setwork?

When I was in matric, we studied ‘A Rose for Winter’ by Laurie Lee. I thoroughly enjoyed the change in genre and, I suppose, it was my first ‘armchair travel’ book. But I haven’t come across any other non-fiction titles that have been prescribed for Grade 12.

A valued colleague of mine mentioned that it is a shame that we don’t study non-fiction titles as there are so many good ones to choose from. Herewith a list of her (local) recommendations – perhaps you will be able to use them in the classroom, or at least add them to your suggested reading list.

Birth (Peter Harris)
‘Birth’ (Random Struik) is the story of the three months Peter Harris, a Johannesburg based lawyer, spent as the head of the monitoring division of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) during our first democratic election in 1994. It was a hectic, roller coaster ride ensuring the new South Africa was brought into being in a credible, free and fair election ... This was nail-biting stuff and ‘Birth’ reads like a political thriller which is all true. Read it if you can.

Endings and Beginnings (Redi Tlhabi)
Winning the 2013 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, ‘Endings & Beginnings’ is both an extremely personal account and a socio-political inquest into the violent, turbulent world many young South African girls are thrust into. It is the true story of the relationship between Tlhabi and Mabegzo, one of the most feared criminals roaming the streets of Soweto while Redi was growing up. But it’s much more ... While her revelations do not in any way excuse who and what Mabegzo was (they aren’t meant to),  they go a long way in shedding light on the scourge that is violence in South African society and why so many young men are consumed by anger.

Rat Roads (Jacques Pauw)
If you only read one book about Rwanda and its infamous genocide, make it Jacques Pauw’s ‘Rat Roads’. The book tells a remarkable story of a man who lived through the 1994 machete killings – the most intense and bloodiest example of genocide in modern history – only to later head out on an incredible journey on foot to find a better life here in South Africa.
Today, he’s a lawyer.

If you can recall other non-fiction works that have been prescribed, or that you think should be prescribed, please let me know.


Categories: Macrat Musings

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