Gillian Slovo. Red Dust. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000
Kombi (9, 22, 295) - van or minibus.
Biltong (11) - Dutch: bil ("rump") and tong ("strip" or "tongue"), cured meat, like beef jerky.
"Kwela, kwela" (14) - Zulu: "Get up!"
Shebeen (34) - an unlicensed bar.
Braai (49) - Afrikaans: "roasted meat" - a South African barbecue.
Sjambok (52, 125) - a leather whip (often a synonym for apartheid).
Amandla (55) - Xhosa and Zulu: "power."
Toyi toyi (80) - South African dance imported from Zimbabwe, became familiar part of anti-apartheid protests.
Immorality Act (82) - An early apartheid law, 1950: sex between whites and non-whites forbidden. Repealed in 1985.
Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act (85) - A law enacted in 1995. This act established the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission."
"Môre" (96, 209) - Afrikaans: "Morning!" (short for "Good morning!")
Dassie (96) - an African rodent.
Silkie (97, 272) - a kind of chicken.
Kudu head…kudu bull (103) - a kudu is a kind of antelope.
"Ag" (104) - "Gee!"
Kaffir (106) - ethnic or racial slur used against Black South Africans.
Anglepoise (111) - a type of lamp.
Rooibos (113) - pronounced "roy-bos," Afrikaans: "red bush." Plant used to make tea.
Baas (115) - term of address: "Boss," or"Sir."
Aspidistra (136) - a flowering plant.
Township necklace (151) - Tire doused with gasoline, placed around the neck of someone deemed a sell out or traitor and set on fire.
Secateurs (153) - a type of pruning shear.
Tsotsis (157) - Black urban criminals.
Ag…jirra (160) - "Gee…boy!"
Blerry (162) - Afrikaans: bloody.
DLB (171) - "dead letter box"
"My bra" (203) - Zulu: brother.
Flavescent (204) - yellowish
"A luta continua" (204) - Portuguese: "The struggle continues!"
Doek (214) - rhymes with "book" - a square of cloth worn as a head scarf.
Quiescence (216) - dormancy.
"Kaffir toilet" (234) - A toilet for non-whites only.
Tannie (235) - Afrikaans slang: "Auntie."
Dronkies (238) - people who drink too much.
Dorpie (239) - Afrikaans: "small town."
"Maak gou" (252) - Afrikaans: "Hurry up!"
Lekker (252) - Afrikaans: "nice."
Engelse oorlog (257) - Afrikaans: "the English war."
Probity (307) - integrity, honesty.
Dominee (309) - a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.
Diamanté (316) - rhinestone or some other kind of glittering substance.
Additional Notes (thanks to Louise Schwingel, NMH English Department):
page 8 temerity
p.204 anarchically (refers to the pattern in the Kaffir toilet!)
p.305 indubitably dead
Slovo has made excellent choices of diction, as these words are reflective of many of the themes of the novel as well as being words that frequently appear on SAT word lists.
Please be ready to use them in reference to the novel.
As you read, be sure to consider the question that the epigraph poses "Is not the truth the truth?"
Can "the truth set us free"? How does the idea of truth function in the novel? What about the "rational truth" referred to on page 320, at the end of the novel?
And, consider the statement on page 197: "A good witness learns to winnow the truth"; also, on page 198, "Now history could no longer fit the old truths."
On page 221, Dirk claims, "I am a victim of my own ignorance and the things I thought were true."
Think, too, about the "stunning dislocation" noted on page 8 and one of the themes of the novel.
What about the "composite of fear and shame" noted on page 10 and also a theme.
Also, note the link between fear and hatred noted particularly on page 151, as well as the intimate bonds between the torturer ad the tortured, noted specifically on page 150.
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