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Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Stories ranging from the respectful to the bizarre and from the political to the emotional make fascinating reading. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Azra Daniel Francis relates that when he was nine years and six months old living in Clairwood in Durban, he was “among a crowd of adults and children, all barefoot, following a slow-moving, much-rusted small vehicle driven down Cherry Road, passed my wood-and-iron home. From the vehicle came a man’s voice over a loudspeaker announcing the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in India. By an Indian.”

This is part of the foreword of A Gandhi Centenary which is a compilation of original pieces in response to an international project Azra Daniel Francis was to create in 2013.

Writers both established and new, were invited to submit short stories to mark the hundredth anniversary this year (2014) of the end of Gandhi’s work in British South Africa. The theme of the written submission was “to be more-or-less successful non-adversarial response in an adversarial situation. The situation need not involve M K Gandhi.”

Francis adds: “Some of my family marched and were jailed with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in South Africa, long before I was born in Durban, Natal, South Africa. This collection is in memory of them, too.”

Ranging from the respectful to the bizarre and from the political to the emotional, the stories make fascinating reading.

artSMart readers will be interested in Leia by Michael Reddy which was penned in memory of theatre doyenne, Professor Elizabeth Sneddon (1907 to 2005). Through her persistent determination and passion – or, as she called it “bullying” – she eventually wore down the resistance of the university administrators to create the drama department of what is now the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This department has produced many of South Africa’s finest actors and actresses, some of whom have gone on to international recognition.

Reddy pays tribute to Professor Sneddon as well as his lecturers in the late 1950’s. As he explains, these lecturers were “the force that persuaded the authorities at the hitherto-only whites University of Natal to have a ‘Non-European” program of classes in Durban.”

In Reddy’s short play. The main character of Leia is Professor Sneddon. The name Leia is derived from the constellation “The Pleiades” (The Seven Sisters). Professor Sneddon herself had seven sisters.

A Gandhi Centenary is published in paperback by FriesenPress. ISBN 978-1-4602-4308-4 It is also available as an eBook ISBN 978-1-4602-4309-1 For more information visit – Caroline Smart