Candy, a 16-yewar-old daughter of a well-off British family living in South Africa at the time of apartheid, has entered a friendship with a balck girl (Becky) from Soweto.
The two girls from completely different worlds try to understand each other. As Candy can't visit Becky's family in Soweto, they come up with the idea of both visiting Becky's relatives in Swaziland across the border.
After very controversial discussions with her parents as to whether they would allow her to go, Candy can eventually convince her mother that she 'has' to go to Swaziland together with Becky to better understand the people from the 'other side of the fence'.
`Mum ... I can't not go to Swaziland. I'm sorry, but I can't.... Please believe me, I'm not trying to be a rebel. I don't want to defy you and Dad. But I must have this holiday with Becky. I wish I could make you understand. It's not only that I want it — it's much, much more important than that. I need it, to help me find out what I really think and feel, for myself. Can you understand that? ... It's ... Oh hell .. . Look, do you remember that day when Becky came to borrow money from me, and I talked to you about her afterwards?'
Her mother stepped back and frowned at the half-filled vase. She turned it round and studied it again, before saying frostily, `Well go on then.'
`I told you, didn't I, what she said? — that I sit here seeing nothing I don't want to ... That really shook me, you know.' There was no response.
Candy clasped her hands in her lap to steady them and continued, `But that's not all there is to it. I've been realizing a lot of things lately. Like how conditioned I am by my own immediate environment. Boy . . .' She grinned faintly. `That's the biggest shock of all, that is — when you start to discover how much of what you think and feel and say is simply what you've been taught to think and feel and say. That's why I've got to get away. I've got to get out of all this for a bit. I'm feeling so stifled, so ... Oh, I don't know.' She jumped up and went to stand on the edge of the steps leading down into the garden.
`Do you realize,' she said over her shoulder, `that I've known Becky for nearly a year now? Nearly one whole year. Maybe that's not such a long time. But it feels like a long time — perhaps because so much has happened. God, when I think what I was like before I met her ...' She paused to reflect bitterly.
Then she swung round to face her mother and went on passionately, `Becky's become my closest friend, you know — at least as far as feelings are concerned. She means more to me than all my other friends put together. And yet I can't ring her up and go and visit her whenever I feel like it. I can't go and visit her at all, ever. That's another reason why this holiday means so much to me. Staying with Becky's relations won't be the same as visiting her own house, but it will be the next best thing. And most important of all, we'll be able to go out together, do things, enjoy ourselves. It'll be two weeks of fantastic freedom. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that.'
Her mother put down the secateurs*. `That's all very well,' she said. `But have you thought, really thought, what it might be like living with people who have a very different culture from your own? You might find it all very uncomfortable — even horrible, once you get there. What then?'
`I'm sure it won't be that bad.' Candy smiled. `And it won't do me any harm to have to live more basically for a short while. It'll be good for me, and probably quite healthy too. Especially if Becky's relations live in a rural area.'
`I don't know how you can be so certain. Just say you were to become ill. That wouldn't be so funny, would it.'
`No.' Candy hesitated. `... But if anything like that happened, I could always get in touch with Uncle Jack. He'd only be a few miles away. That's why I thought that if you knew he was going, you would . . .' She stopped.
Her mother had snatched up the vase and was walking off. Without looking back she disappeared through the french windows into the dining-room. Before Candy could recover and decide what to do, she reappeared and began clearing up the mess on the table. Candy studied her face despondently.
After a short silence, she braced herself and demanded, `Aren't you going to say anything, Mum?'
Her mother met her eye coldly. `What's there to say? You already know how I feel about it all. However . . .' She shrugged. `As you're obviously still so determined to go, I don't suppose I can stop you.'
They looked at each other across the distance of a few feet. Instinctively, Candy took a step forward.
`I do love you, you know,' she said hoarsely, and she put both her arms round her mother.
From: Go Well - Stay Well by Toeckey Jones, Heinemann New Windmills, 1987, pp. 189-191
* Swaziland - South Africa held Swaziland as a protectorate from 1894 to 1899, but after the Boer War, in 1902, Swaziland was transferred to British administration. The paramount chief was recognized as the native authority in 1941. In 1963, the territory was constituted a protectorate, and on Sept. 6, 1968, it became the independent nation of Swaziland.
Since 1986, King Mswati III has ruled as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned and the king appoints 10 of the 65 members of parliament as well as the prime minister. King Mswati can veto any law passed by the legislature and frequently rules by decree.
* secateurs - Gartenschere
1. Candy explains to her mother why she desperately wants to go to Swaziland together with Becky, her black girlfriend. The phrases: "...that I sit here seeing nothing I don't want to..." and "...how conditioned I am by my own immediate environment" suggest her reasons why she wants to go.
Explain in more detail what these reasons are.
2. Imagine what difficulties there might have occured for a girl like Candy being friendly with a balck girl from Soweto at the time of apartheid?
3. What reservations might Candy's parents have put forward in order to dissuade her from visiting Becky's relatives in Swaziland?
4. Candy has obviously succeeded in getting her own way by convincing her mother. Do you think that most people of your own age solve problems in such a way?
5. Describe the sitaution in South Africa after apartheid was abolished in 1994. Has the situation for blacks improved since that time?