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The League of Extraordinary South Africans

December 19, 2014

599ae-the_league_of_extraordinary_gentlemen_1280x1024Back in 1999, a comic book author named Alan Moore created the ultimate literature team-up book with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  The idea was combining some of the greatest heroes of literature into a super team, sort of The Avengers of Victorian England, to work together to fight evil.

The team was assembled by Campion Bond, a made up character that was the grandfather of super-spy James Bond.  With the help of Mina Murray (the heroine of Bram Stoker’s Dracula), the team included Captain Nemo (from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Dr. Jekyll (from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), The Invisible Man (from H.G. Wells story), and Allan Quartermain (from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines).  The series has gone on to include characters from all over literature from Don Quixote to Harry Potter to King Kong to Sherlock Holmes.

It is the ultimate literature mash-up.

That gave me an idea for this month’s online lesson.  Instead of discussing one book, one story, or one poem from South Africa, lets take a look at some of the greatest heroes of South African literature.  Let’s see who might make up a “League of Extraordinary South Africans.”


Allan Quartermain in 1888. Strangely, the muscular comic version of Allan does not match the description of him in the books.

Allan Quartermain

When I was a kid, a movie came out called King Solomon’s Mines, within a few seconds of watching the preview, I was angry, calling the movie a complete Indiana Jones rip-off.  In actuality, something I didn’t realize until very recently, Allan Quartermain, the hero of King Solomon’s Mines (and one of the members of the real League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), had been around for nearly 100 years by that point and was the inspiration for action heroes for decades afterward, including Indiana Jones.

Allan Quartermain first appeared in Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, then in twelve more novels and eight short stories. Quartermain was a British man, who’d grown up in South Africa with his missionary father.  He stayed in South Africa most of his life, preferring the outdoors to the climate and crowds in big English cities, making his living as a hunter and explorer.  He’s a wisecracking jokester at times, making sarcastic jabs about the lifestyles of his English companions, but deadly serious when he needs to be.  Quartermain doesn’t have your classic action hero good looks. He’s small, wiry, and his hair sticks up in funny ways.  However, he’s funny, clever, and there’s no one better than him with a rifle.

Quartermain’s adventures, some of the most fun action stories you’ll ever read, have him pitted against angry tribesmen, witch doctors, jungle sorceresses, wild animals, lake monsters, an evil dwarf wizard, and the rugged terrain of Southern Africa all while trying to find missing people, rescue kidnapped children, unravel mysteries, prevent wars from breaking out, and search for lost treasures.

The stories. which take place in the late 1800s, cover nearly 50 years of his life, from the time he was 18 until he’s in his late 60s.  Considering the time period, you see a different South Africa than today – one where British colonists are seeking to civilize Africa (which Quartermain supports) and few white men support the indigenous peoples’ rights (which Quartermain also supports).  All in all, Quartermain’s adventures are great fun, and they give you insight into life in South Africa in the late 1800s.

If you want, you can even read King Solomon’s Mines or most of the other Quartermain adventures online for free, or you can look around for one of the five King Solomon’s Mines movies that have been made over the years.

Waku, Prince of the Bantu


Waku, wearing every tribe’s favorite outfit –               red shorts/yellow belt.

The first African hero to star in their own comic stories was Waku, a chieftain in an unnamed South African tribe.  Jungle Tales, a monthly comic book by Atlas Comics (which later became Marvel Comics), featured four stories every month.  One of a white girl raised in the jungle, one of a great white hunter, one that starred different animals, and Waku, Prince of the Bantu.

Jungle Tales didn’t last long, just eight issues in 1954 and 1955, but Waku made his mark on the world as the Jackie Robinson of comics.  It was another twelve years before Black Panther, the first African superhero (first superhero, because Waku does not have super powers), made his debut in 1966.  The first African-American (from American with African heritage instead of from Africa like Waku and Black Panther) to get his own comic book was a cowboy named Lobo.  He starred in his own comics starting in 1965, and the first African-American superheroes, The Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1972), didn’t show up until much later.  Waku was a trailblazer.

First off, Bantu is not a specific tribe of people.  It’s a general term given to over 300 different groups of people who speak related languages, called Bantu languages.  Bantu languages can be found in many different countries from central Africa all the way down to Cape Town.  However, Waku was specifically written to be from a tribe hidden in the dark depths of South Africa.

Like the title said, Waku was a prince of his people.   His father, Kaba, was the tribe’s chief, but in the first story, Kaba died of a sudden illness.  As he died, he asked Waku to pledge that he’d never lead their people through violent means, instead be a peaceful and enlightened chieftain.  However, according to the tribe’s traditions, before Waku could become chief, he’d have to defeat the strongest men in the tribe in single combat to prove his worth.  To honor his promise to his father, Waku refused to fight.

Mabu, Waku’s nemesis, took advantage of this, fought the strong men and lied about killing a rampaging elephant (which Waku actually killed), to gain the support of the people and become chieftain.  Mabu had a plan in place to work for white hunters gathering valuable hides and ivory.  He enslaved his people to become wealthy.  Mabu was kind of a giant jerk face.

Eventually, the people of the tribe came to understand Waku’s promise to his father, they rose up to fight Mabu, and Waku jumped into the fray, defeating Mabu and freeing his people.  He felt he’d broken his oath, so he was about to kill himself, but his father’s spirit appeared to him and said it was okay, he should lead his people instead of jumping into a pit of fire.  That’s just good fatherly advice.

In later stories, Waku, armed only with his spear and shield, along with his combat skills and knowledge of jungle survival, fought witch doctors, an army of zombies, saved his lady love from evil kidnappers, and saved his people from an angry volcano.  He went on to successfully lead his people for years (but not really, because the comic only lasted eight issues).  If you really want to read Waku’s adventures, you can find all of his adventures (plus the rest of the Jungle Tales) pretty cheap for used copies on Amazon.


Muscular and lean, Jock looks ready to fight a baboon, a leopard, or maybe The Rock.  Jock vs. Rock would make a good movie, I think.

Jock of the Bushveld

In 1907, Percy Fitzgerald published a novel that told the story of his life in the Bushveld as a transport driver during the Gold Rush of the 1880s.  His companion for many of these adventures was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Jock.  To this day, Jock is one of the most beloved characters in South African Literature.  Statues and plaques mark the paths of where the real Jock was during his adventures with Percy.

Jock was the runt of the litter, and would have been drowned, but Fitzpatrick selected Jock over all the bigger, healthier pups.  Jock was loyal to his master from day one.  They had many adventures together transporting goods across the Transvaal region of South Africa.  Not only did Jock protect Fitzpatrick and their oxen, he once fought and killed a baboon used in “dog” fights for gamblers, tracked and killed a leopard that was terrorizing a village, saved his crew from a wild fire, fought off wild dogs, and even hunted a crocodile.

Jock’s adventures were based on true stories that Fitzpatrick told his kids at bedtime.  His friend, another famous author, Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book) convinced him to write and publish a book of Jock’s heroics.  The real Jock was deafened by a kick to the head by a kudu, and since life for a deaf dog on the trail would be dangerous, Fitzpatrick left Jock with a friend, so Jock could enjoy retirement on a farm. Even Jock’s last acts were heroic.  On the farm, a wild dog had been killing the farmer’s chickens.  Jock managed to kill the wild dog, but in the confusion, Jock was shot by the farmer confusing Jock for the stray.  A sad ending, but going down in a heroic moment, in a blaze of glory is a fitting end for a dog like Jock.

If you want to read Jock of the Bushveld, it can be found online for free.

Mighty Man


He’s not really a criminal, Mighty Man just punched him for wearing an orange suit.  Mr. Purple Jacket back there is next.

Under the Apartheid laws, the South African government controlled and regulated just about everything, even TV, movies, and comic books.  Most of the comic stories you could get in South Africa were either photo comics (actors set up in the right poses to tell a comic story, but with real photographs instead of drawings) or reprintings of American comics like Spider-man, Superman, or Batman.  Mighty Man was one of the first to change that.

Released in 1975, Mighty Man was a superhero for the Black Africans living in the poor townships like Soweto.  He was supposed to be their Superman.  He was one of them, a police officer sworn to uphold law and order in the township.  Only, as we look back, we know that the bad guys of that time period were the government upholding the Apartheid laws.  Mighty Man did not fight those bad guys – come on, do you really think that the government would allow comics that painted the government in a negative light to be produced?

Before he was Mighty Man, he was Danny Ndhlomo, a police officer in Soweto shot in the line of duty during a grocery store robbery.  He may have died that day, but strange creatures from an unknown race took Danny to their underground lair and gave him the super powers that allowed him to be Mighty Man: The Human Law Enforcing Dynamo (that’s really what the subtitle of the comic was).  With superhuman strength, Mighty Man fought against his arch enemy One-Eyed Johnny, local tsotsis (gangsters), dagga merchants (drug dealers), and even communists.  All to bring safety and order to the streets of Soweto.

Strangely, the “communists” Mighty Man was fighting were thinly veiled references to the ANC (African National Congress – Nelson Mandela’s group, fighting for the freedoms of the very township people Mighty Man was protecting).  Priced very low and with it’s messages carefully controlled, Mighty Man was likely a government attempt to keep the townships happy and compliant.  Ironically enough, Mighty Man stopped publishing in 1977, when student led riots in the streets of Soweto led to newsstands carrying the comic being burned to the ground.  The people he was supposed to be protecting killed him.  I’m guessing those students didn’t buy into Mighty Man’s anti-violence, law & order message.


There’s got to be some Velcro involved in this image.

Martine Allen

On Martine Allen’s 11th birthday, her whole world was turned upside down.  Her home in rural England burned to the ground, killing both of her parents.  If that weren’t enough, Martine is sent to live with her grandmother, who she’d never even met, on a game reserve in South Africa.  While there, she began to hear stories of a mythical white giraffe that may live nearby, only no one really believed the creature was real.

The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John was published in 2006 and tells the story of Martine coming to grips with these traumatic events by first searching for, then befriending the rare white giraffe.  Martine forms a special bond with the animal, even getting to ride it.  Throughout the course of the series (which will reach five books early in 2015), Martine finds that she has something in common with Luke Skywalker, Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter – she is “THE ONE!”  (There sure are a lot of The Ones in literature).

Martine has a unique gift, the ability to heal animals.  She learns about these powers and some of their history from a mysterious woman from a local tribe, all while fighting off poachers who see the white giraffe as a valuable prize.  Throughout the rest of the series, Martine uses her gifts to protect the environment, survive on a desert island, save rare animals, and protect the people (and giraffes) she loves.

The White Giraffe was a pretty popular book when it was released a few years ago.  It should be available at just about any public library.

Freedom Beast

Because the world seems to work perfectly sometimes, Freedom Beast is talking to another foreign superhero, Crimson Fox – a French hero, who will very likely be on this list next year when we make a “League of Extraordinary French Folks.”

DC Comics, home of Batman and Superman, decided to add a South African character to their roster in 1989.  Dominic Mndawe was a South African photographer arrested for taking pictures of white Afrikaner police officers abusing a black suspect.  He was imprisoned and about to be killed when Animal Man (from America) and B’Wana Beast (from Tanzania), two DC superheroes that I’d never heard of, burst into the jail and rescued him.

Soon after, B’Wana Beast decides that Dominic should join them in their fight against bad people, and give him a magical potion and helmet that gives him super powers like super strength, super healing, the ability to control minds, and the really weird ability to fuse any two animals together to form a powerful combination.  These are the same powers B’Wana Beast has, but the newly named Freedom Beast wants to use his powers a bit differently than B’Wana Beast.

Since this was an American comic book, Freedom Beast isn’t really a character from South African literature, but he’s worth talking about, because DC Comics was able to add in political elements that Mighty Man wouldn’t get near.  Freedom Beast wanted to use his new powers to fight the oppressive government and Apartheid, but B’Wana Beast said that the powers were not to be used for political means, but to fight evil.  Yeah, that’s confusing, especially when you think about some evil politicians like Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Un, or… I don’t know… The South African government in 1989?

The two Beasts argued, but Freedom Beast won, and the two heroes stopped a group of Afrikaner policemen from massacring a bunch of peaceful protestors.

Freedom Beast appears a few more times over the years, joining the Global Guardians (very different from the Guardians of the Galaxy),  teaming up with Animal Man, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow.  Maybe he’ll show up again someday on the television show Arrow.  


Somehow her cool, intense glare would work better if she had a dog, a lion, or a shark as her animal. I just can’t seem to find that sloth intimidating.

Zinzi December

Some of the folks on this list have had some pretty cool powers, but Zinzi December from Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City has got to be one of the best.  Zinzi lives in a not-so-distant future version of Johannessburg, where there’s a whole new type of social segregation.  In this world, anyone who commits a crime is magically attached to an animal.  In Zinzi’s case, she’s stuck with a sloth named Sloth.  Zinzi has not had an easy life.  She’s a recovering drug addict, deeply in debt, and caught up with a bad crowd.  Not to mention the whole, she’s got a sloth with her, so everyone knows she’s committed some sort of horrible crime.  Everyone in the story who’s been “animalled” is outcast from society, living by whatever means they can, in a terrible, dangerous section of Jo’burg.

However, getting stuck with a spirit animal isn’t all bad.  Everyone who is “animalled” also winds up with some sort of special powers – perhaps one that can help them make amends for their crimes.  Zinzi has the ability to see psychic connections between people and their belongings, like some sort of invisible string that can help you find what you’re looking for.  In the story, though, Zinzi finds herself working for a shady record producer looking for a lost person.  Zinzi’s powers don’t quite work that way, but she needs to try in order to get her life back together.

While set in the future, and containing many parallels to dispossessed and mistreated people in the real South Africa, the story often feels like a pulp detective story from the 1940s, like The Maltese Falcon or The Big SleepZoo City is also available at many public libraries, but it’s a book written for grown people, and I have not read the whole thing yet, so I can’t be sure the entire thing is young people appropriate.

So there you have them, seven unique and interesting heroes from all different types of South African literature – historical fiction, adventure stories, children’s books, science fiction, and even comics.  These aren’t the only great heroic characters in South African stories, just a few to get you thinking about all sorts of important issues from South Africa’s past and present – Apartheid, colonization, social segregation, and even poaching.

Now for the fun part.  Like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which is a mash up of great characters from different literary classics, we want you to create a story that incorporates two, three, four, or even all seven of these characters.

Right here in the comments section of this page, submit the first part (it can be a few paragraphs, a page, or even a chapter) of your “League of Extraordinary South Africans” story.  You can set your League of Extraordinary South Africans story in any time period you want.  Should they be exploring the deepest, darkest reaches of Africa? That would be fun.  You want them in an untamed town during the gold rush, go for it.  You want them fighting in the Boers War, that would be interesting.  You want them there for the violent Apartheid era in the 1970s and 80s – that will work too.  Stopping poachers in a modern Africa – perfect.

Once you’ve submitted your story, you’re not done yet.  Come back and see someone else’s beginning, then add to it.  Maybe they’ll add to yours too, and if all goes well, we’ll have several awesome stories about our super-South African team!

Create your story in any style you want.  Write the first chapter of a novel.  Craft an epic poem.  Come up with lyrics for a rap song about their adventures.  Draft a movie script.  Do it in comic book format.  Film a movie trailer with your friends.  Use your art skills to design a book cover or movie poster.  Whatever works best for you.

So, to clarify:

  1. Write the beginning (not just a few sentences, but a solid start to a story) of a “League of Extraordinary South Africans” story.  Set it in any time period you want, and give them whatever South African problem you’d like them to solve.
  2. Submit your work in the comments section here on this post.  Any products involving art work or video will not be able to be submitted via the comments.  You’ll have to email those to us, and we’ll put them online.
  3. Come back and read someone else’s story.
  4. Write the next part of their story and submit it by replying directly to their comment.
  5. Do this many more times so we have a whole book of adventures.

If you are a student traveling with us in 2016 (or from the past or further in the future), you are welcome to play along too, but what we’d love from you is any suggestions you have for awesome heroic literary characters from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, or the Netherlands.  Be sure to tell us the name of the character, the author, and what book/story they appeared in.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. December 24, 2014 4:31 pm

    Since posting this article, I finished reading both The White Giraffe and King Solomon’s Mines.
    The White Giraffe is good. It’s not a great piece of literature, but it’s a fun story written at a young enough grade level that most TAP kids would be able to read it in just a few weeks. Definitely worth reading before we go to South Africa.
    King Solomon’s Mines is a little more difficult. It was written in the 1880s, so the language is kind of tough sometimes, but it’s not hard work like reading Shakespeare or something.. It’s a pretty straightforward adventure story and is actually a fun enough read that I’m going to read the next one too.
    If anyone reads either book, let us know what you think.

  2. December 31, 2014 10:43 am

    Just finished reading Zoo City. It’s a really good book with a very interesting premise, but there are a few parts that are not entirely kid friendly. Swear words, drug use, and a few adult situations. All in all, a very cool character, but I can’t recommend this one to our younger members. Perhaps it’s appropriate for some of the older kids or adults.

  3. Emily Blenck permalink
    January 1, 2015 4:01 pm

    Is there any limit on how long this has to be?

    • January 1, 2015 5:20 pm

      An English teacher’s least favorite question… It needs to be as long as you need to it be. I would say that two paragraphs is too short to establish character and begin a story. I would say that 10 pages is too long (unless you’re having fun and get into your story, then maybe it’s not).

  4. Kelsie Stanley permalink
    January 4, 2015 10:30 am

    Another clear morning began when the shining sun rose over this rowdy gold rush town. I, Allen Quartermain, was loading up my small wagon for a trip to the next town over. Today was going to be long; the trip usually takes three days, but there was a storm coming and I needed to get there sooner. I had just finished tying down the last crate when I felt a light tug on the hem of my shirt. I turned, finding myself facing a young girl who introduced herself as Martine Allen. We exchanged greetings and she asked where I was headed. I explained my situation and the rush I was in. To my surprise, Martine asked to join me on the trip. I thought about the risks, the weather, her curiosity, and most of all, whether or not she had permission from her parents for something like this. She seemed to sense my thoughts and her expression warned me not to ask about her family or her life for that matter. Politely, I turned her down due to the limited amount of supplies available and the fact that she was a stranger to me. Martine’s eyes dropped and she looked very disappointed. She turned and began sulking away when I made an impulsive decision. I called her back over and she looked so hopeful that I just had to let her join me. Martine jumped for joy and retrieved her small sack of belongings. We agreed on some ground rules including one that required her to remain on the wagon with my dog Jock during travel. She was not to wander off the campsite in the evenings or do so much as to lay a finger on my rifle. With some simple understandings in place, we began our journey.
    A few hours into the trip, I asked Martine why she wanted to come along. She sat thinking for a moment before explaining that the wildlife fascinated her and she wanted to see it all. There was something different about Martine that struck me when she talked about the animals. The trip was quiet; neither of us spoke again until we reached a place to camp for the night. We both settled in and I fell asleep quickly.
    Later in the night, I awoke with a start only to find that Martine was missing.

    • January 4, 2015 1:59 pm

      Awesome start! Now someone needs to continue the story.

    • Brian Cottingim permalink
      January 11, 2015 2:44 pm

      It was the dark, and I did not have the eyes of an eagle. I shouted her name, no answer. After multiple repetitions of carelessness I left my cozy dent in the combination of dirt and sand, and searched in circles. There was no sign of Martine 100 yards away from the campsite. I walked down a steep, shallow escarpment near the campsite finding Martine passed out between two umbrella thorn trees. I picked up her seemingly lifeless body and found a shallow slope nearby to carry her up to the campsite. I gently set her on top of her blanket and collapsed walking back to my unappealing refuge. The next morning I was woken up my Martine. I explained the situation last night, she has no memory of that eventuality. But she did explain that she sometimes sleepwalks. I groaned at this new obtained knowledge, knowing that this would be a rough journey with this…hiccup. She reassured me that it doesn’t happen often. She pulls out a fresh peice of bread out of her knapsack and scarfs down her throat.
      “Ever seen food before?”
      “Nope,” she says sarcastically. Before long we are back on the road again.We pass many villagers going town from town, we wave, maybe stop and say hello but then we leave and go our separate ways. It was getting dark and it started to rain when we passed a woman crying over what seems to be a dead animal. Martine demanded me to stop. I complied because I was also heartbroken looking at the woman. Martine immediately runs to the animal not say anything to the owner and finds whats wrong with the mysterious creature. I was not close enough to see what kind of animal it was but it was probably a house pet. While Martine was doing something with the pet, I was comforting the large woman crying on my shoulder. Suddenly a white glow emerged from the pet and disappeared immediately, I hear the pet meow, now knowing its a cat, and Martine pets it for awhile and leaves not saying anything to the owner again. The owner thanks although Martine says nothing back. She jumps in the wagon and says, “Let’s go.” I try to talk to her about what happened but she immediately shuts me out, “Don’t want to talk about it…”

  5. January 5, 2015 5:47 pm

    Dominic Mndwae really didn’t deserve to get in trouble for taking those pictures. It was his job to take photos, after all, so why should it matter if he had chosen a few racist policemen as his subject? After all, everyone living in the slums of New Johannesburg knew of the wrongdoings of the Apartheid government. Oppression is usually pretty obvious, especially when it only applies to a certain group of people. In any case, Dominic was in the backseat of a police cruiser on his way to the police Johannesburg. Somehow, he wasn’t too upset, which was surprising because the penalty for these kinds of things was a marking. This was odd, and Dominic decided he could use some of his time on the drive to think about what had caused him to end up in this position. The law had been that way ever since the creation of New Johannesburg. Racism had been very prevalent in the first Johannesburg, but it was even worse now. As there had only been five years between the destruction of the first city and the creation of the second one (things moved quickly with forced labor), Dominic could still remember what it had been like in the original Johannesburg. Unfortunately, he couldn’t even visit his old apartment in the city, as the entire of Johannesburg had been overrun by gangsters and rebels long ago. Dominic was jolted from his thoughts as something leapt at the window of the car.
    He recoiled as a fit tan bulldog struck the window with his front paws, cracking the glass. Quickly, it turned away and tried to run, but a man in a blue uniform darted forward and snatched the dog’s collar. It turned around and tried to bite the man, but he expertly pinched its neck, and it fell to the ground and stayed motionless, unconscious. Draping it over his shoulder, the man, who Dominic now knew was an animal control officer, strode over to the police cruiser. Grinning, the policeman rolled down the window of the car.
    “What’s up, Thomas?” , the animal control officer asked casually.
    “Not much, John. Just taking this delinquent to his marking.” Thomas responded.
    “Oh, great,” John seemed genuinely relieved. He lowered his voice, “Hey, would you mind taking this thing to the marking ceremony? I’m really not in the mood to do any paperwork today, so just say he attacked you and they’ll take your word for it.”
    “I’ve got you, but you owe me now.” The corrupt police officer took the dog as John strode away. Keeping his handgun trained on Dominic, he opened the back of the car and placed the dog next to Dominic. Back in the comfort of the front seat of the cruiser, he spoke with the odd accent most white South African citizens possessed.
    “You’d better get to know this dog. After all, you’ll spend the rest of your life with him.” Thomas said with a wolf like grin. Dominic turned and looked at the dog, and, as a flood of sympathy filled him, pulled it into his lap. Curious, Dominic looked closely at the collar the bulldog was wearing. It was a red collar, but that wasn’t what interested Dominic. On the collar was a golden name tag, which only had one word: “Jock.”
    “That dog’s got a story, it does. John and I were talking about it earlier; I never thought I’d actually see it. ” Thomas said as he drove, speaking more to himself than Dominic. “He’s known as Jock of the Bushveld, his owner was a transport driver, using a ship to transport goods between here and some of the townships. Jock was his dog and was always getting into trouble.” Dominic nodded absentmindedly, thinking. Transport driver was a danger but rewarding position. On one hand, you got to see some beautiful South African scenery. On the other, some of the Tsotsitaal-speaking gangsters in the townships would, and often did, kill for some of the things in that hovership. Then Dominic caught something the chatty policeman had said.
    “Was?” Dominic questioned.
    “Yep. Was,” Thomas answered. Despite his original appearance as rude, the officer was proving to be rather friendly. “He was trying to arm rebellious gangsters in the townships. When the police caught him, he and Jock attacked them. Jock’s owner was shot, and, well, Jock is here. Speaking of which, we’re at the marking facility.” The officer turned around at this point, and Dominic could see the sadness and regret in his eyes. “Time to go.”
    The marking facility was relatively new, as was marking itself. Marking was a process which involved a convicted criminal and an animal that also had been a problem. The two were physically attached to each other. This resulted in a harder life for both of them, and showed to the world that they had committed a crime. After the marking ceremony, the pair was cast out into Tambak, a particularly horrible township on the outskirts of Johannesburg. At this point, the marking was just insult added to injury, as the human of the pair had to provide food and such for both of them. Quite often, the marking was a death sentence. However, there was an upside to this, provided the two, known as an “animaller” survived. The human could gain some sort of power. Rumored powers ranged from something as small as enhanced smell to something as big as actual flight.
    Needless to say, Dominic was frightened. Besides him, there were only two people in the cavernous waiting room before the marking ceremony. Both were teenage girls. One had a small afro held back by a headband and clutched a sloth in her arms and glared around the room suspiciously. The other had lighter skin and was sitting next to what appeared to be a small, silver giraffe. None of them said anything for the longest time. The sloth girl’s voice was quiet but commanding.
    “So do you guys have names? I’m Zinzi.” Dominic and the other girl, who was named Martine, then introduced themselves. After a few awkward moments, they all began discussing how they had ended up at the marking facility. Zinzi had been arrested for being a drug addict, and Martine was simply a displaced traveler from England who had nowhere to go. Dominic was just beginning to feel comfortable with them when an alarm sounded and two policemen stepped into the room. It was time for the marking ceremony.

  6. Emily Blenck permalink
    January 11, 2015 2:01 pm

    How they came together was somewhat of a mystery, a jigsaw-ed blur of hushed candlelight tales and pages occupied with miles of faded ink. When dusk hours began seeping through the grumbling city of Soweto, the children of dark skins would scurry out of cracked windows and sealed doors to meet each other in the pale moonlight. While there, they would do nothing but share stories and dreams of how they thought The Six had formed.
    Youngest to oldest they would go. The simplest of tales transforming into such beautiful complications that it seemed as if the stories had been occurring right in front of their awe struck eyes. After hours upon hours of laughing, arguing, and dreaming, the children would scamper back into their homes, dreading the daylight that was soon to arrive at their doorsteps.
    Most of the families living in Orlando West knew of the children’s late night endeavors. The children themselves seemed to think they were a lot quieter than they actually were. Yet, none of the parents seemed to care much about the story telling festivals that would occur on their front lawns. They all knew how much The League mattered to all of the children, they were hope in the form of exciting characters, faith itself captured in the hearts of fictional beings. But hope was always a very dangerous thing for the people of Soweto. Although mothers and fathers let the children’s imaginations dance and soar in the freedom of the night, during the daytime all of the tales were to be muted down to a silence.
    Hector was much like the other children that lived around him. He would listen to his father curse about twisted politicians, complain about being told to wash the dishes, and tease his sister at any moment he was given. Crime swirled around him like smoke curled above a fire, but his mother always made sure to keep him in line.
    Like the other boys that lived on his street, Hector’s favorite of The Six was Waku, Prince of the Bantu. His reasoning was that through everything, Waku stayed true to himself and his father’s promises while still attempting to be a good leader to his people. The other boys fancied him more for his combat skills and physical strength.
    The Pieterson family was also much like the other families living in Orlando West, Soweto. It was hard not to take after all of the people that populated the area around them, the houses were stacked together so tightly that sometimes it was a struggle to breathe. Like most families, they had changed their native names in order to pass as colored instead of black. Both ethnicities were still under the cruel laws of apartheid, but at least colored folks had more privileges than the black ones.
    While Mr. Pieterson would grumble and groan about waking up at ungodly hours in the morning to go to work, Mrs. Pieterson would grumble and groan right along with him about getting the children up for school. The couple was passionate about their human rights as most of the other families were, though of course, they weren’t too loud about it. Being loud about it would just get them thrown into a cell right next door to Mr. Mandela’s.
    School for the black children of Orlando West was a disaster within itself. Fights would break out spontaneously, yet quickly. A blare of shouting and the beating of skin would fill the hallways of the run down school, only to be silenced moments later. While the teachers would dash to break up the fighting, the other students would chatter and whisper about new thrilling stories they had came up with about The League. Although they had been nagged over and over by their parents about the impossible factor of a beast, a dog, a prince, a hunter, and two girls with weird animal companions possibly coming together, the children still found some truth in the tales.
    And that was simply how most school days went. Show up, learn, listen to fights, and try to avoid as many thugs as you could on the walk back home. But as the month of April slowly rolled its course into the township of Soweto, things began to change. Like the sun had begun to peek out from the shelter of the clouds, oppression began to blindingly reappear from its place in the shadows.
    On April 29, 1974, Hector Pieterson found his desk and waited for his teacher to show up in the classroom. Last night’s story telling lacked it’s usual friendly and comforting feel. For one of the younger children mentioned the “fallen member” of The League, which created a discomforting silence throughout the course of all of the other tales. Nothing compared to the hurt all of the children felt when they had come to find out Mighty Man was a result of the oppressors, but none of them liked to talk about it much. It was as if one of their heroes had betrayed them and left them for dead.
    The slamming of the classroom door was enough to break Hector out of his thoughts and back into reality. As the teacher walked to her desk, Hector could already sense something was not right. Ms. Mimbu was a frail woman, her body resembled a toothpick, and her nose was something else completely. The students joked that a bird might mistake it for a branch if she stood outside for too long, which was cruel to say but funny nonetheless.
    But that day was different, the tiny woman managed to slam the door so hard that the building shook right along with it. Her footsteps sounded like miniature storms booming along with her strides. When Ms. Mimbu reached her desk she immediately turned to the class and took a deep breath before she began to speak.
    “As I’m sure you’ve all heard, the use of Afrikaans has been highly encouraged to be taught in all schools regardless of skin color.” A few mutters were heard from around the room. All of the children had gone through this ramble before. Ms. Mimbu and all of the other teachers were required to keep the option open, but not one person without white skin was motivated to learn a single letter of that language. It was the language of the oppressor.
    “New sets of laws have been passed making the teaching of Afrikaans a requirement. Today we will begin studies on the language.” For a split second, everything seemed to stop. The clock ticking on the wall freezed in its place, the student’s eyes remained opened with the inability to blink.
    Suddenly, a burst of laughter erupted from the back of the classroom. All of the students turned to find Mbuyisa Makhubo, the oldest boy in the classroom, stuck in a fit of tears from his booming laughter. Ms. Mimbu coughed as if she wanted an explanation for Mbuyisa’s inappropriate behavior.
    “What? It’s hilarious that you guys seem so surprised by this. They strip away our rights, shove us in tiny villages, treat us like animals, and you guys are shocked that they went further?” Mbuyisa chuckled. Not even Ms. Mimbu had anything to say to that. Hector and all of the other students looked up to Mbuyisa almost as much as they looked up to The Six, everything he said they took straight to their hearts. His word was golden.
    “Soon they gonna start painting white just so they don’t have to look at our skin no more. Learning their language is just the first step.” Hector swore that he could see smoke curling out of Ms. Mimbu’s ears.
    “And please, Mr. Makhubo, tell me what you would like me to do about this?” asked Ms. Mimbu, her words shooting out like sharp pellets. Mbuyisa just smirked.
    “ I don’t expect you to do anything ma’am, you work for them.” Hector and the other students gasped at Mbuyisa’s disobedience towards their teacher. Ms. Mimbu muttered something about having to go to the restroom and was out of the classroom before any other insults could be thrown at her.
    “Brothers, we have suffered under these laws for far too long. The treat us like garbage and now want us to learn the language that has been spoke against us.” The children stared as he spoke, his words leaving imprints on their hearts.
    All of the children knew that they were treated like garbage compared to the white people that lived around them. Hector had seen all of the signs, blaring the message “NO BLACKS ALLOWED” as if they were all diseased. He knew he should be used to it. He knew that the unsettling feeling of anger shouldn’t boil in the depths of his belly whenever he saw a white folk or saw one of those hurtful signs. But boy it did. Hector wanted to somehow make a difference, but he had been told by his parents that the whites would torture him until he couldn’t speak anymore if he were to say something against it. Hector’s father would pat him on the shoulder and softly tell him how it wasn’t his place to demand for rights.
    Mbuyisa seemed to read his mind as those thoughts flowed through his head. “We have been told over and over again how we are too small to make a difference in this world, that we were born to be below the laws of the white man,” Mbuyisa stared at Hector as he went on. “But if we make it clear that we are done with being treated like animals, maybe, just maybe, they’ll give us the rights we deserve!”
    A chorus of cheering was scattered across the room from the children who were brave enough to shout. Mbuyisa continued his war cry. “That’s why I say we strike! We tell the government that they give us our rights or we give them a war! On behalf of all the children being forced to learn the language of the oppressor, I beg you, to join me.”
    It was almost as a current of bravery rippled throughout the students. Shouts of agreements echoed throughout the air. Hector could feel waves of fear and excitement rattle underneath his skin, he felt like he was finally apart of something that could make a difference.
    “ Tonight during the story telling we must come up with a plan for our rebellion!” Mbuyisa shouted with pride.
    The children all chanted the word “strike” on the walk back home from school, Mbuyisa leading them. Hector couldn’t help but feel powerful as he shouted along with his peers.
    When he finally reached his home, Hector ran in his house and rushed to tell his sister the exciting news, he knew that his father and mother would be angry to hear of his plans, but he felt as if Antoinette understood him better than anyone ever could. As he told his sister the news, he couldn’t help but talk loudly about all of Mbuyisa’s inspirational words and ideas.
    What he didn’t know was that his father had come early from work that day and was lounging in the small room right next to his sisters. As soon as Hector was finished telling Antoinette his father met him in his room and told him to sit on his bed. A long lecture of shouting and anti rebellious ideas soon filled the Pieterson home.
    Mr. Pieterson knew that the strike meant everything to his son, but out of fear and the risk of it all he didn’t have the heart to let Hector join the strike. And that was that.
    By the time Hector’s father left the room it was time for him to go to bed. After hours of staring at his ceiling, the pitter-pattering of footsteps played like a song in Hector’s ears. He knew what the noise meant. Knew that all of the children were gathering together to talk about the strike, to talk about their very own rebellion. His heart ached as he thought of his father’s words. “You’ll make no difference if you’re locked up in a cell, boy, “ Rang over and over in Hector’s head. Out of curiosity, he peeked out of his window to see how many of he children gathered up for the special meeting. Strangely enough, the only thing his eyes were greeted with was the vacant space in front of his home.
    Hector quickly dismissed the thought and lay back down on his bed trying to think of anything but the strike. He wondered if the white men could find a way to control his mind, the only thing in his life that they hadn’t took over yet. Maybe it would be easier not having independent thoughts when all they’re good for is getting you thrown in jail.
    He thought of Zinzi and Allan Quartermain, both two of the fiercest members of The League. Would they want him to march? Or would they have him stand his ground? What about the rest of the Six? Hector forced his eyes shut as more questions crammed their way into his mind, making his head throb.
    Hector jolted out of his thoughts when a small whimpering sound coming right outside his room filled his ears. Puzzled, the boy crept his way to his window and peeked over the edge, only to see a dog. The darkness of the sky only allowed Hector to see the outline of the animal.
    “What are you doing here, boy?” he whispered to the pup. The dog stepped forward into the moonlight, only to reveal his lean and muscular figure. Hector gasped. He looked so similar to-
    “Jock? Why are you waiting outside?” Hector nearly fell from his stance when he heard an unfamiliar voice coming from the other side of his room. He turned to see no one but Martine Allan, bright eyes and all.
    Hector couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His mouth fell open at the sight of one of the members of The League. He almost had a hold on his words when another voice came booming over the sound of his racing thoughts.
    “You might want to close your mouth, my boy. Wouldn’t want any flies crawling in there.” Chuckled Allan Quartermain, THE Allan Quartermain, famous hunter and explorer.
    “Stop playing with the kid, let’s just cut down to the chase.” Snapped another League member. It was no huge surprise when Zinzi December, along with her spirit animal stepped out of the shadows, a look of determination smeared across her face.
    “I agree. We don’t have a lot of time.” Chipped in the voice of none other Waku, Prince of the Banku, aside him stood The Freedom Beast, muscles and all.
    Hector nearly cried out in a fit of joy and confusion, but found that he could barley even open his mouth. All of his heroes, the heroes that he was told repeatedly were just fictional characters, were all standing around him in his bedroom. But why?
    “W-what are you guys doing here?” Hector stammered.
    “Ha, the explanation is easy,” said Zinzi as she stepped closer to Hector. “We’re here to help you strike.”

    (Just some information: All of the characters I used in the story except for Ms. Mimbu and The League are actual people. Hector Pieterson was one of the first children to die in the Soweto Student Uprising and has been a South African symbol ever since. Mbuyisa was one of the older children in the uprising who carried Hector to the hospital after he had been shot by a police officer. My writing kinda started to get bad near the ending, so I apologize for that)

    • January 11, 2015 4:37 pm

      This definitely shows that you’ve learned a ton about South Africa so far, Emily. Great work! Who’s going to keep this one going???

  7. Brian Cottingim permalink
    February 2, 2015 9:52 am

    I have worked and worked to get my life back together again. I earned enough money to go into rehab. And I stay on friendly terms with my old dealer. I’ve payed my debts and I am working to destroy the void between animalled and non-animalled people. I have moved a couple blocks over to Evergreen St. filled with people with positive attitude about the future. People like me that have done horrible crimes but want to become better people. I love the street with all my heart. Although the streets are run down, the people here give me a better view of life. An old man named Finnegan lets me live in the basement of his house. Although I have to share it with his monkey, I’m grateful. I’m self employed finding lost objects. I make a steady income, but it’s not much. I’ve began to like my little sloth. One day coming home from a clients home, I hear screaming, shouting, and yelling from a couple blocks over. I run as fast as I can, worrying it’s one of my old friends. As I run into the middle of my old block I see bodies being ripped to shreds. I scream as other families come to mourn for their loved ones. I look around at the victims of this unknown act of violence and see if they are any of my friends. Although none were my friends, I was still sad. But who would do this? “The people without animals! They are rioting!”, A man says on the other side of the street.

    • Cameron Smith permalink
      February 8, 2015 12:30 pm

      I was extremely confused and scared their the people without animals they may not like us but they still haven’t done anything like this before. I knew what I had to do I would gather up people with the biggest menacing animals in the world and then scare of the people in the riot. So I went from house to house gathering up people with all kinds of scary animals lions,tigers,bears, and even an elaphant. We eventually created a massive wall of animals that would scare of the people. As the riot approached the people and animals prepared for a fight if necessary. Some people ran away at the sight of the animals and when they ran away it scared more people then they ran away. The rest of the people were the bravest of them all. Then we ordered all our animals to roar and make loud noises. The remainder of the riot quickly fled. “They shouldn’t be coming back now” said one of the men. This was a relief to hear. We then started repairing any damage that was caused by the riot and people went back to their homes.

      • Brian Cottingim permalink
        February 19, 2015 1:07 pm

        There was three people on the ground after the riot, some of my neighbors recognized these people and dragged them into our homes.But they were not recognized for a goods thing, they killed OUR people, the people that were shot, my “ex-neighbors.” One of the “shooters” was wearing a grey cotton suit with a red tie and a white under-shirt. He was unconscious. I wanted to question him but obviously could not. I asked the old lady caring for him to tell me when he wakes up. I run diagonally across the street to find another killer. As I dodge blocks of concrete on the pavement I still hear people mourning their loved ones. I run inside my best-friend’s house, and the shooter is conscious, I shake the man on the floor,”What were you thinking?! Do you know how many lives you ruined…” I say a couple hurtful words.
        All the unknown guy could say is,”Sorry.”
        I tried to settle down and ask him nicely why he did it, but I could not ask nicely, I cried,”You disgust me! Why would you even do this?” He explained to me that he was forced to by his two older brothers, they were against animalled people, they though we should die for your sins.
        At that single moment, I noticed that the boy was probably only twelve years old.

        • cj moody permalink
          February 21, 2015 11:24 pm

          I then asked the boys name, he replied with a shaky voice “Rembi… My name is rembi. Please let me go sir.” I looked around for my friend, and as I’m looking around his house, i find i picture of us laying on his desk, with what seems to be a letter. The letter was addressed to his mother and father, whom he hadn’t seen in years, and he talks about how I saved his life years back. As i read the letter, i start to tear up and tremble. I stomp into the other room and pin the boy up against the wall. He starts to cry, and i look into his eyes and he does a sinister laugh and grin. I cuff him and lay him on his stomach and turn to look who was behind me. Happy to see that he survived the shot in the shoulder, i hug my best-friend. He looks at me and thanks me for what I’ve saved him from.

  8. Maddy Trouvais permalink
    February 5, 2015 9:27 pm

    They’re gone. That night, the night I turned 11, was the night my life changed forever. It happened so suddenly, that I couldn’t comprehend what was happening to them. I didn’t know what was happening at all, actually. I was in my room playing with the toys I just received nearly 30 minutes before all this happened and I smelled the sulfur in the air and knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I opened the door to my room to get out, and a wave of smoke poured onto me and into my room like a wave on the shores of a beach. It knocked me off my feet. I was coughing, and I couldn’t breathe. I had to get out of there. My eyes were stinging from the smoke. I couldn’t get back on my feet. So, I crawled to the door and opened the door and ran about 10 feet away from my house. The sight I saw was horrifying. My house was engulfed in flames, charred and no color left on it. I knew that my parents couldn’t make it out in time because they weren’t around. The car was still in the driveway and there wasn’t any sign that they did make it out. No footprints in the sand, nothing. I turned away from that sight, tears in my eyes, and ran. I ran towards the police station, because I knew they could help me. The police station took a very long time to get to, about 40 minutes, we didn’t live very close to it, or anyone really. But, I had to go to see what they could do. Once I arrived, there was a very nice man who approached me right away and asked me what I was doing there so late at night. So, I explained to him what had happened. He brought me to this room with a chair in it and he asked for my name. I told him it was Martine. Martine Allen. He looked at me kind of funny and said he would be right back. I don’t know why he looked at me like he did, but it made me nervous. So, I just sat down to wait for him to get back. He came back with a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, because my clothes were ruined. He told me to change, and when I came back from changing he asked me a whole bunch of questions about my family. The only family I knew of was my mom and dad. I didn’t know I had anyone else. He yet again said he would be right back and left. This time he was gone longer than before. And I wasn’t sure what he was doing. He came back into the room and told me to follow him. He brought me to this phone on the wall and I wasn’t sure why. He dialed a weird looking number with long numbers and called someone. He explained to whoever was on the other line that I was his/her granddaughter and that I didn’t have anyone else to take care of me but that person. Then he hung up the phone and told me that I would be going to Africa to live with my grandmother. I didn’t even know that I had one of those. He said that my flight was to be at 5 in the morning the next day and that she would meet me at the airport in Africa. I was nervous, as I should’ve been, but then I figured how much worse this could be than what had already happened to me that night.
    The next day wasn’t all that bad. It was mostly filled with traveling. I got on the plane and once I got to Africa, I was glad that I was there. I could finally meet my grandmother. Once we met, I saw that it wasn’t all that bad. I found out that she was my dad’s mom. She looked too young to be a grandmother, but she was. And I asked her why she moved to Africa. She told me that this is where she was born and that she never moved away. My dad moved away from Africa to start his new life. That was confusing at first but I understood it after a while.
    Once I got settled in Africa, about a month later, I kept hearing these stories around my town about this white giraffe. They didn’t think it was real but they still told the stories to each other. Entertainment I guess? I’m not really sure but I was fascinated. I wondered what this story meant and I believed it was true.

  9. Cameron Smith permalink
    February 8, 2015 12:37 pm

    It was late at night and jock was sleeping peacefully at his masters home when all of sudden jock smelled something very familiar coming from the kitchen. he got up and went to investigate. When he got to the kitchen he found a massive fire erupting in the kitchen. The fire began to spread quickly. Jock knew he had to wake up bushveld so he ran up stairs to his masters room barely evading fire. But when he got to his room he didn’t find bushveld instead there was some strange man he has never seen before.

    • cj moody permalink
      February 21, 2015 11:09 pm

      The man had a mask on, with a gun on his back. He didn’t see Jock, at the time he was looking out the window. Jock bolted towards the man and gave a fierce bark. The man jumped back and reached for his gun. Jock latched on to the mans leg and shook until the man started to bleed. Jock then ran to the bathroom to find percy in the bathtub, unconscious. He then dragged Percy down the stairs and out the door. The mystery man came outside and Mighty Man slid behind him quietly. “Say nothing fool” he said, slipping a rope around his hands and legs. As Mighty pulled off the mans mask, he realized it was…

  10. cj moody permalink
    February 21, 2015 9:27 pm

    “NO sudden movements!” said Mighty Man. In the darkness they searched, and weren’t very successful. Within the trees they heard a slow scratch and crunch on the high branches. As they looked up, Zinzi quietly joined the group, with a whisper “Sorry Im late.” Sloth slid down the tree and climbed up on Zinzi’s back. In the distance the sound of a gunshot echoed, ringing in their ears. Not only were they there to protect animals, but worried for the white giraffe that Martine had been been with for a while after her 11th birthday. After the shot sounded, they moved in through the brush and found a freshly killed rhino. With a shaky voice Martine said “No Horn?! Already?!” “How can they do it so fast and get away?”. Right as she said that, a man ran past them and dropped a small bag. The group approached the small bag as it started to move.

    • February 21, 2015 9:35 pm

      I see that the rhino poaching videos had an impact on you.

      • cj moody permalink
        February 21, 2015 10:59 pm

        They did, and i really enjoyed seeing the training too because it showsd that its not just the ‘average joe doing the job of protecting.

  11. Stephanie Melendez permalink
    February 23, 2015 4:21 pm

    It was June 7, 2017, a dark misty night in South Africa, the night my life almost changed forever. As I was walking the trails of the open plains doing my duty to save the animals from the poachers, I could see a fury little animal walking in the distance. As I got closer and closer I noticed that the animal was a dog. In my head I thought that that was quite unusual. What would a dog be doing out here all alone. I couldn’t just let this dog stay out here all alone and get eaten by a wild animal. So I decided that I would bring him along with me for the rest of my shift. The dog’s name was Jock, he seemed like a very strong and powerful animal. As jock and I were strolling along, I had seen the most amazing animal tracks in the dirt. They almost looked like the prints of a White Giraffe. How could that be? These giraffes are very rare. The only person to ever find one was Martine. She is legendary now. Track after track, Jock and I followed until we approached the most amazing creature that I have ever seen in my whole entire life. The White Giraffe was right before our eyes! I felt very suspicious about the atmosphere it was very quiet, too quiet. Right then and there poachers were jumping out of trees and bushes left and right. As II went to grab my weapon to stop these poachers, I saw a bullet coming right for me.

  12. Dylan Blough permalink
    March 12, 2015 12:44 am

    It was a cold rainy night, I was walking to my house from the market, when I witnessed a horrible crime. A man masked by night slaughtered a rhino in cold blood. I hid in a roadside ditch, being forced to hear the saw carve through the horn of an innocent rhino. When the sawing stopped, I heard the sound of sprinting footsteps coming my way. The footsteps got louder as I attempted to devise a plan. Minutes felt like hours, as he got closer. He walked up and looked down at me with his cold eyes.

    “Get up!” he shouted at me.

    I stood with no hesitation. He looked at me and put the horn into a bag that was slung across his back.

    “Ahhhh, another loose end. I don’t like loose ends, they cause problems.” said the man in a relaxed voice.

    I just stood there waiting for his next move. It was only a few seconds later that he was getting ready to “get rid” of me. He raised a fist into the air, when just then a man swung from the sky and landed on the man. He then picked the man up and placed him in handcuffs.

    All he said was “ Another one for Freedom Beast!”, before he flew away……..


  1. Sarafina!- TAP’s Movie of the Month for January 2015 | Minooka TAP

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