Many young South Africans are facing a massive crisis of identity, but none so great as those in the ghettos. For them little has changed and Nelson Mandela’s dream of a rainbow nation of opportunity is a bitter joke. In the sand-blown wastelands of the Cape Flats, within sight of Table Mountain, adolescents fluctuate between public acts of dangerous bravado and private feelings of inferiority. It’s a dangerous brew.
In gangs, they terrorise the rest of the city and fight bloody wars for turf, drugs and money. Rainmaker documents the extraordinary coming-of-age journey of a youth from Bonteheuwel. Ky, a young gangster, knows that township power is in the hand that cocks a 9mm gun. But one day this power gets him into more trouble than he can handle and he is forced to flee his community and the way of life he knows. Saved from certain death in the gutter by a man who recognises ancient strands in a dream the young man has had, Ky is spirited away deep into the forbidding mountains and into the care of Zimry, a /Xam shaman.
Zimry is a Bushman, but the reason Ky pulled the trigger on a gang boss was because he was taunted for being one. It was a taunt he had lived with all his life and a name he despised. The old man attempts to teach Ky the ways of his ancestors, but Ky’s rejection of his own link to this ancient wisdom jeopardises his life, and the future of his people. Rainmaker is a novel, but it is also an exploration of identity and a re-evaluation of the centrality of the Coloured people in South Africa’s history. It explores, with great sensitivity, the controversial relationship between the /Xam San and the working people of the Western Cape. It is also a fine-grained imagining of a young initiate’s difficult and often unconscious passage to shamanhood. Rainmaker is a book about the earth’s impending environmental crisis, for the /Xam are Keepers of the Earth’s balance, and dangerously few are left.
About the Author
Don Pinnock was until recently the editor of Getaway magazine. He has been an electronic engineer, lecturer in journalism and criminology, consultant to the Mandela government, a professional yachtsman, explorer, travel writer, photographer and a cable-car operator on the Rock of Gibraltar. His present passion is the impact of humans on planetary processes. As a criminologist, he was one of the co-drafters of the Youth Justice White Paper for the ANC government. He is a specialist in adolescent deviance and is a founder of Usiko, a rehabilitation organisation for high-risk youths, and Umzi Wethu, a residential programme for Aids orphans.
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