Tales of forced removals

Farieda Abrahams.

The haunting experience of being removed from your home as an 8-year old and love in a time taut with tension and trauma living under the Group Areas Act and the Immorality Act is what Farieda Abrahams, 59, from Lentegeur writes about in her first book, My Lover, My Country, launched at Sultan Bahu Rehabilitation Centre in Westridge on Sunday October 7.

When she was 8, Ms Abrahams’ parents received a letter from the authorities, saying that District Six was declared white. District 6 was predominantly Afrikaans so she did not understand what leaving the area meant. “When they read the letter I was thinking, why are they crying, maybe they want to paint the houses white then we would be able to move back again. The little girl in me has always wanted to go back, and that inspired me to write this book.”

The family were forcibly removed to Hanover Park. Ms Abrahams said as they boarded the bus that took them to Hanover Park, she turned her back towards District 6, her home, she didn’t want to look back, she said.

Ms Abrahams said the book speaks about the hurt, pain, drama and love in this time and era from a coloured perspective. It is also comes with a sardonic disclaimer: “A guarantee that when you read this book, your food will surely burn”.

She recalled watching 3 Talk with Noleen on SABC 3 when Soli Philander was interviewed on the show. She remember him saying that there are great stories that come from the Cape Flats but people are too lazy to write a book.

Ms Abrahams said her family and friends almost thought the book was never going to be complete yet she never gave up.

She said some of her friends and family read parts of the book and they wanted more, they wanted to know what would happen next. It took her about nine months to write this book.

Ms Abrahams, who works for Sultan Bahu Rehabilitation Centre, also writes plays for the community with no formal training. “I didn’t want to speak to the children on what drugs can do to you, I wanted to show them as they listen attentively to the plays,” said Ms Abrahams.

She is the first contact with the client when they reach the rehab. Together the staff screen clients and discuss a treatment plan.

“This book is dedicated to all those who shed tears over the Group Areas Act as their lives were forever changed. We will remember what happened and share our stories with generations to come,” said Ms Abrahams.

Ms Abrahams is busy with her second book, focusing on the issues and problems in the community today. “Start writing, don’t be scared of rejection – there are people out there who will be able to help you. Don’t give up on your dreams, go for it. Parents should nurture their children’s talents and look after them,” said Ms Abrahams.

To buy a copy of My Lover, My Country, call Ms Abrahams on 061 461 8427.