My Children! My Africa! is a play set in Apartheid South Africa. It centers around a school teacher and two students, one white and one black. Unrest in South Africa is mounting in the play and what is on display is a fundamental conflict over the ways black South Africans should respond to Apartheid. Mr. M, the school teacher believes that a non-violent approach is necessary to win the fight against Apartheid. His student Thami is a bright young man but is disillusioned by the promises that have been made to him as a young boy. Even though he has done well in school he feels that he will not have a favorable outcome as evidenced by the people in his neighborhood and the plight of his race more generally. He is convinced that fighting back will yield results and has become a comrade in the movement. He believes that his teachers ideas about the movement are backwards and old fashioned. The generational conflicts are glaring as each tries to understand the other and fight for what is right.
That is why I am a teacher. It is a secret plan to keep alive this savage Hope of mine. The truth is that I am worse than Nero feeding Christians to lions. I feed young people to my Hope. Every young body behind a school desk keeps it alive.
To start with I don’t think I want to be a doctor anymore. That praiseworthy ambition has unfortunately died in me. It still upsets me very much when I think about the pain and suffering of my people, but I realize now that what causes most of it is not an illness that can be cured by the pills and bottles of medicine they hand out at the clinic. I don’t need to go to university to learn what my people really need is a strong double-dose of that traditional old Xhosa remedy called “Inkukuleko.” Freedom. So right now I’m not sure what I want to be anymore. It’s hard, you see, for us “bright young blacks” to dream about wonderful careers as doctors, lawyers, when we keep waking up in a world which doesn’t allow the majority of our people any dreams at all.
If the struggle needs weapons give it words Thami. Stones and petrol bombs can’t get inside those armored cars. Words can. They can do something even more devastating than that…they can get inside the heads of those inside armored cars.
I’ve read one other play written by Fugard, Master Harold and The Boys. I read it years ago and so the details are fuzzy. It is set in South Africa during Apartheid and is about a young boy named Harold and his relationship with two servants in his house. Fugard is known for his writings on the politics and experiences of Apartheid South Africa.