August 21, 2014

Mine Boy (by Peter Abrahams)

Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams

Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams

Published in 1946, Peter Abraham’s Mine Boy was one of the first books to look at what life as a black person meant in South African society during the days of Apartheid.

The book’s main character, Xuma, is a man in transition. He leaves his home in the north to go find work in the big city of Johannesburg at the gold mines. He ends up in Malay camp; a suburb for blacks. There, he meets Leah, a tough but kind woman, who gives him a place to stay. Though everyone in Leah’s house does not like the idea of Xuma working in the mines, he is determined to work there, despite the harsh conditions that blacks are forced to work under.

Xuma is naïve about the city and its ways. On his first walk around the city, he is shocked to see his fellow blacks take off from whites when they have not done any harm. Rather than run, he stands his ground. When a policeman attacks him, he strikers back. This gives him reason enough to flee. His friends call him a fool because of his naivety.

Leah is a tough and strong willed woman, unapologetic about her way of life. She brews alcohol, something illegal for blacks but not for whites. When other women bootleggers in her camp are arrested, Xuma feels bad because Leah did not warn them. To which Leah says, “Life is so in the city.”

Among the other people that live in Leah’s household are Johannes and Daddy, both of whom find their solace in taking liquor.

Xuma falls in love with Leah’s niece, Eliza,, who is a teacher and dresses like the white folks. She loves Xuma but because she has passion for the white man’s things, wants someone who speaks like them she runs away, leaving him bitter. Abandoned, Xuma turns to Maisy whose love he had earlier turned down.

At the mines, Xuma’s strength makes him a successful mine boy – a boss boy for one of the mine supervisors – Paddy Oshea, or the red one, as Xuma calls him. Paddy is considerate and understanding, and despite his not being black, he becomes friends with Xuma. To Paddy, a man is a man first and then color comes second. But as Xuma soon realizes, as a black man, he remains a second-class citizen under the apartheid regime.

After an accident in the mines that takes the lives of Johannes and other miners, Paddy and Xuma lead the strike together with the mine boys when they are forced to back to work before the place is repaired. It is this incident that makes Xuma understand the real meaning of being a man first and color next, as all the workers join hands and put their differences aside.

This is a melancholic story that paints a picture of resilience in the face of numerous setbacks and unfair laws. As the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) put it, man is born free but every where in chains. After all, what has colour go to do with personality?


Comments


  1. I can easily draw parallels btwn leah and my mother…they have the same character..


    • I’ve read the novel when I was at university, I liked it too much.

    • Simidi Tonny Ndeva says:

      I love Mine Boy Book, i did it in High School

      • BEMBA KAYE says:

        I love this book. I read this book while in high school for form 4 english-lit. exams. This is a good book and i recommend it to those who wanna get something out of something. I will read this book again after more than 30 years.


  2. Mine boy is the best book i have ever read in my past life. It tells how Africans struggle for their difficulty life and the Africans never give up it. Mine boy also tells who Africans were and how they successfully passed the difficulty path, the path of bloody, the path of torture, the path of slavery, ,,,,,,,


  3. Wow! Wat a great book. Through this i have made a lot of friends n memories. Shout out to Mr Chauke.

  4. workuteklu says:

    really it sweet novel that is why i have done my BA thesis on this. God bless Abraham forever

    • laurel says:

      Workuteklu, I am Laurel from Nigeria. I am doing my M. A. thesis with this novel Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams, and I am finding it difficult getting journals, essays, articles or scholarly papers written about the Novel. Since you used it for your B A, could you please send me some of the articles that will be relevant to the study.

  5. jethro mokadi says:

    Mine boy is the best novel I’ve ever study,it teach me lots of things about life in the mine.

  6. Michael Tsigbey says:

    Mine boy is the best novel I’ve ever study whiles growing up. It’s been 17 years now since I read it and I can still remember how I imagined all the characters. Very good piece of work from Peter Abraham

  7. akpenka joshua says:

    mine teaches us as african to still remain united no matter your country of origin,creed, culture, religion or ethnic background

  8. Lusinetta Kormon says:

    Everythime I imagine the strike in the mine and Leah being arrested I just fell it is so unfair. Why did blacks have to suffer that much? If anything is special it’s the black skin, it cannot be bought!!!!!!!!


  9. Mine Boy has been my very best Novel ever, but sadly, I didn’t get to finish reding it; Oh, how I love this book and I can’t get in any bookshops around me. If anyone happen to come by it, pls I won’t mind. My address is: 6 Oluwatosin Street, Ayetobi Aminkanle, Alagbado Lagos, Nigeria. +2348028776643.
    Peter Abrahams is the Masterpiece himself.

    • AFFETO Sourou Joseph says:

      Hello my dear, how are you? It’s just to inform that I have your prefered book, I mean ” Mine Boy” by PETER ABRAHAMS. If you want, I can send it for you soon!!! From Benin ( University of Parakou- Englih Department-2nd year)

  10. mustapha ibrahim says:

    difficulties better explains a man is a man first then skin colour comes second.


  11. I read this book when I was in J.S.S ….I wish I could read it again ….does anyone has a soft copy ……to mail to me @ :
    micest22@gmail.com

  12. millicent says:

    Mine boy iz de best nove that I’ve eva study. I realy lyk it


  13. Dear All
    I am urgently looking for an electronic version of the book “Mine Boy” by
    Mr Peter Abrahams.

    If you have a copy thank you send me that.
    Thank
    Best regards,

    biaous2002@gmail.com


  14. this book is good

  15. NUMVIYUMUKIZA ETIENNE says:

    I thank so much this writer for such contribution especially We Africans.Man first color after.We are the One. Even We Africans We can!!!

  16. Leslie Chemwolo says:

    You read it and you become assimilated into the community of Malay camp. Amazing book. I visited Johannesburg from Kenya two weeks ago and I went on the Mine Tour just because of my love for the book. As I walked about underground in the tunnels I imagined could relate with Xuma. Amazing book.


  17. I real missed my english teacher mr Mammbabada. H mkes it easy 4 m to understand n enjoy the novel. THE MINEBOY with daddy dancing old war dance. Looool gud novel


  18. miz daddy,dladla,lena,elisa eix this book was so funny


  19. The novel Mine Boy was my subject of study when i was completing my undergraduate level at Bunia teachers training college in east of D.R.Congo. Till today i still have that passion of reading it.May live the novelists of South Africa


  20. Great works, enjoyed it through and through, hope i can one day write like this great man did.


  21. Great novel. Perhaps you could do more to try and analyse the themes and styles in the novel. That could help those studying it a lot.


  22. i need peter abrahams novels as i am making a research on him. plz help me if anyone has them.

  23. wyckliffe Ayoki says:

    I did Mine Boy as a set book in Litrature when i was a student at Busia Forward Snr Sec School in Uganda and i cant forget it some1 give it to me pliz…….i gave mine to a friend who fallen in love with English litrature because of it soo i want to read it again but i cant find one….

  24. michelle. kasonde says:

    Its a verry nyc book dat teaches a lot


  25. It’s written before apartheid begins… highly unlikely to be a rendering of the African experience under apartheid then…

  26. AFFETO Sourou Joseph says:

    I like too!!!!


  27. !!!! it’s a very interesting story.

  28. Piet lebogang rabalao says:

    Shout out to my bestEnglish teacher Mrs N.V letsoalo.mine boy reminds me my class mates lol Maria fisha,Thebola,Patricia n belinda Gal(Eliza)

  29. ubiey pompeo says:

    The good one,infact you find realities in it and easy to understand.


  30. this is the best book i hav eva read in my life. l love this book so much that i read it more than five times

  31. BEMBA KAYE says:

    This is a great book. We loved back in 1977 and i still care about rereading this book. Peter Abrahams is a great writer. I am going to read this book again and if u have it please send it to me. U can e-mail me for my address @ bembakaye@aol.com or call/text @ 704-600-7239. Thanks.


  32. i like Abraham’s work; through it i experience the mines

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