In the 1950s a routine underground inspection in a gold mine turns into a horrifying experience for a South African mining engineer.
In the 1970s a young woman decides to hike the Fish River Canyon in Namibia; and an American Catholic priest journeys to Soweto to care for abused women and children.
These seemingly unrelated strands form the foundation of a family’s journey to a day that would forever change them – and the country in which they live. Wednesday 16 June 1976, the day on which high school pupils in Soweto organised a riot to protest against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of education, marked a clear watershed for South Africa.
Soweto Burning, is part factual history and part fictional novel, portrays the parallel journey of a family and a country to a crescendo that rocked the world. It starkly illustrates how this dramatic turning point, and the policy of racial segregation through Apartheid, affected one white family and the country as a whole; how our actions impact on others, and how even one courageous decision can change countless lives.
Donald Emby was born in 1949 in Durban, South Africa. He attended Potchefstroom High School for Boys and after matriculating in 1966, spent a year in the Air Force Gymnasium. In 1968 he entered Medical School at the University of the Witwatersrand; doing much of his clinical training at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. He graduated at the end of 1973 and after four years in general medicine, he specialised in Radiology, obtaining his Fellowship in 1982. For the last twenty-five years of his career, he served as a Consultant Radiologist to the South African mining industry.
He played rugby at school and at university and then spent ten years as a student of the martial arts. In later life he developed a keen interest in nature conservation and birding. During the course of a medical career that spanned forty years he had more than twenty articles accepted for publication in peer reviewed medical journals. Following his retirement from full time Radiological Practice in 2012, he turned his hand to non-medical writing. He lives in Clarens, is married and has a son and a daughter.
‘Having written extensively on the history of South Africa, I found Soweto Burning a vivid and pleasurable read. It is a well-executed blend of South Africa’s complex past, the country and the region’s natural beauty, and the lives of the small group of individuals representing the many white South Africans who recognised the deplorable truth about Apartheid. The absorbing, well researched narrative and varied components, makes it a page-turner and at the same time a valuable learning experience.’ Anné Mariè du Preez Bezdrob
‘This book is billed as fiction, but it is set in a historical context, which makes it a documentary, a history lesson, an action-adventure and a love story rolled into one. Meticulously researched, historically and geographically it establishes the background for the 1976 Soweto Riots, objectively sketching in the events and attitudes that led to the anger and intransigence that sparked so much suffering and death. Flames run through the narrative, from the foreboding created in the prologue, set in 1990, to the pall of smoke that hung over Soweto in 1976.’ Jenny de Klerk, Saturday Star Review, 03 May 2014