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Referat: Cry Freedom by John Briley

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Bookreport:“Cry Freedom“ by John Briley

John Briley was born in Kalmzooo, Michigan. After obtaining a BA and MA from the University of Michigan, he studied for a PhD in Elizabethan Drama at the University of Birmingham. There he wrote for television and films for MGM, UK. He also wrote the screenplay of the film "Ghandi". He is married and has four children. Now he lives in Spain.
Date of publication: 1987

Donald Woods: he is a white man in his middle ages and is married with five children. Donald is the editor of the newspaper "Daily Dispatch" and was formerly trained as a lawyer. He gets to know Biko not really voluntary but this event changed his philosophy of life completely. At the beginning he is still against the black population, but his sense for justice forces him to write objective articles too, although they are prohibited. Through various discussions with Biko he lives through a personal development and becomes a passionate fighter for liberation.
Bantu Stephen Biko: he is a thirty-year-old black man, married to Ntsiki and they have a boy. Biko is a serious, well educated man who is the founder and leader of the South African "Black Consciousness" movement. He advocates the non-violent fight for liberty, however he is prosecuted by the police and called the "Black racist" by his enemies.

The story takes place in the 70’s. It’s about the resistance of the blacks to the apartheid legacy in South Africa in the late seventies. Moreover it tells the story of the growing friendship between two men different in race, standard of living and at first even world view.
The story begins with a police raid in a black shantytown of Crossroads outside Cape Town in November 1975.Everywhere are pictures of Steve Biko and the words “Black Consciousness”. The settlers are treated badly. The police punches them, chases them with dogs and they are also using tear gas.
In the Radio they say that illegal settlers were sent back to their respective Homelands and that there was no resistance. The editor of “Daily Dispatch” Donald Woods gets photos of the raid and he decides to print them although the government doesn`t allow to print such photos. He also mentioned Biko in a short article.
The next day Dr Mamphela Ramphele, a close friend of Biko, enters Donald's office and orders Donald to visit Biko because she doesn’t approve to the article. Woods says that he would fight him as long as he sits in his chair.
Some days later Woods meets Stephan Biko in an old church were he wants to make a centre for black people. He listens to Biko`s opinion and Biko also shows Woods a clinic for black people. In the clinic is Doctor Mamphela Ramphele working. Biko invites Woods to come and see how black people in South Africa live. They go there in an old black taxi which is only for black people. In the black township they eat with a black family and Biko tells Woods about the history how the white came to South Africa and how the black people got their bad situation which they have now.
Every meeting Donald Woods gets to know more about the real conditions under which the blacks live and six weeks later the "Daily Dispatch" becomes the first newspaper to employ two black men as reporters. One day Biko gets arrested after a football match where he has held a speech.
He is brought to the police station, where gets beaten by Captain De Wet. But he defends himself and they throw him out of the office. In revenge two policemen enter the church in the night and smash all things of value. Donald is informed but he cannot print any article for fear of the police killing the witness. So Woods flees to the minister of police, an old friend of him, to speak to him about the incident. From this time on Donald is kept under surveillance and his relatives and friends are attacked several times. In the course Mapetla and Tenjy, the two black reporters, are arrested and at least murdered by policemen. Against all warnings Biko drives to Cape Town to take part in an assembly of the "Black Consciousness" movement. On his way the car gets stopped by the police and Biko gets arrested for having left his banning area. Six days later a doctor visits Biko because of his life threatening injuries which he has obviously got from the treating of the police. He is taken to a police hospital which is thousand kilometres away - lying naked on a blank in a car. Biko dies the very next day of his wounds which causes Donald to print the headline "BIKO DIES IN CUSTODY". However the police deny responsibility and declare Woods banned. Somehow Ntsiki succeeds in taking incriminate photos of Biko's corps. Donald feels the need to publish the material but in order to do this he and his family have to flee. They managed to escape and with the passport from the United Nations Donald brings out the whole true story about Biko.One day after Bikos death Ntsiki Woods, the wife of Biko, and Ken, the photograf of “Daily Dispatch” go to the mortuary. As the official leaves the room Ken puts out a small camera and makes photos of Biko`s body.
The funeral is in the stadium and when Woods and his wife arrive thousands of black people with pictures of Biko are there. There would come more black people but the police sent them back. After a speach the crowd begin to sing the African Song which Steven Biko loved. Some white students see how Woods sings and they come to him and ask him if he understands these African words and he starts to sing in English.
Woods wants that other newspapers write about Biko`s death but they are afraid because it is very dangerous. So Woods decides to emigrate to New York. On the airport two soldiers stopp Woods and bring him in an office. There Lieutnant Beukes reads from a warrent to Woods that he becomes a banning person.
Now he starts to write a book about Biko`s life and after speaking with some friends he comes to the decision, if he publishes the book he and his family has to escape if they don`t want to get killed. But also the escape is very dangerous. Woods flight is successful and so his family follows. The family gets passports from the United Nations and flies away. In the plain Woods looks out of the window and in his mind he hears the crowd of thousands singing at Biko`s funeral.

Pesonal Comment:
The book was quite exciting. But there are many words I didn’t know. Now I know I little more about the political situation in South-Africa.
Philipp Pavelka
Nach einer wahren Begebenheit.
Süd-Afrika zur Zeit der Segregation. (1153 Wörter)
von Rapalot
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