Did you know?
Cry, the Beloved Country has been made into 2 films, one in 1951 and again in 1995.
The South African author, Alan Paton, was born in Pietermaritzburg, shortly after the Anglo-Boer War. Despite the animosity between Boer and Brit, his English parents held liberal political views. His education at Natal University was important in more than one way – not only did he obtain a degree in maths and physics; he also gained a better understanding of the different cultural and racial groups in South Africa.
He taught at 2 high schools, in Ixopo and Pietermaritzburg, before he suffered a terrible typhoid attack and decided to concentrate his efforts on making a real difference at grassroots level. He asked the advice of ministers Jan Hofmeyr and Jan Smuts who urged him to apply for the position of warden at 3 new state reformatories. He got the job at Diepkloof, where Alan Paton had the chance to change the lives of black juvenile delinquents. He transformed Diepkloof from a joyless place to an institution where the boys felt they were able to create a future for themselves.
After 13 years at Diepkloof, the South African writer, Alan Paton, took a study trip abroad and started writing Cry, the Beloved Country. The novel concerns the tragic plight of black people living in a white-controlled country. After the ascent of the Nationalist Party in 1948 with their apartheid policies, Paton founded the non-racial Liberal Party in 1953, but government forced its disbandment in 1968 - whereafter Alan Paton directed his efforts towards writing political plays with multiracial casts for multiracial audiences to challenge the regime of his day.
On asking what Alan Paton’s dream for South Africa was, he answered:
'I envision someday a great, peaceful South Africa in which the world will take pride, a nation in which each of many different groups will be making its own creative contribution.'