A Life's Mosaic: The Autobiography of Phyllis Ntantala

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University of California Press, Jan 1, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 237 pages
"Like Trotsky, I did not leave home with the proverbial one-and-six in my pocket. I come from a family of landed gentry . . . [and] could have chosen the path of comfort and safety, for even in apartheid South Africa, there is still that path for those who will collaborate. But I chose the path of struggle and uncertainty."--from the Preface

Born into the small social elite of black South Africa, Phyllis Ntantala did not face the grinding poverty so familiar to other South African blacks. Instead, her struggle was that of a creative, articulate woman seeking fulfillment and justice in a land that tried to deny her both.

The widow of Xhosa writer and historian A.C. Jordan and mother of African National Congress leader Z. Pallo Jordan, she and her family experienced a period of tremendous change in South Africa and also in the United States, where they moved during the 1960s. She discovers similarities in the two countries, including the arrogance of power.

Anchored in history and culture, A Life's Mosaic sharply reveals the world and the people of South Africa. As the story of a political exile, it represents the dislocations that have caused universal suffering in the second half of the twentieth century. Phyllis Ntantala discusses the cruelty of racism, the cynicism of political solutions, and the hopes of those who live in both a world of exile and a world of dreams.

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This is an excellent book that accurately preserves our history as black people from the elite families of the area. I gained a lot about my own background as a son of Idutywa.
Gcobani Ngozwana


Duff Mission
My People
The Household
The Lean Years
Farewell Gqubeni
Archibald Campbell Mzolisa
Back to Fort Hare
Lincoln Estate
Campaign Against Bantu Education
and 1962
The United States of America
The University of Wisconsin
Pallo Is Endorsed Out

Cape Town

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About the author (1993)

Phyllis Ntantala was born in 1920 in Cape Province, South Africa. She attended the University of Fort Hare and was a teacher in South Africa and in the U.S. She now lives in Taylor, Michigan.

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