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Cloud Cuckoo Land

Louise Stradling

In 1985, the injustices of apartheid in South Africa, bubbling beneath the surface for over forty years, broke cover to unleash a storm.

The storm broke in a little backwater dorp called Uitenhage. On a hot, windy March day, the blood of innocent black people soaked into the orange clay-nothing would ever be the same. That day would change the face of South Africa.

Winston is a young Xhosa man attempting to rebuild his life in the township of Langa. Kobus Jonker is his white counterpart who cannot free himself from the yoke of apartheid. The two men share a catastrophe that threatens to destroy them both.

The story explodes onto the international stage, starting the slow death knell of white rule and apartheid.

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I grew up in the Elands River Valley, Eastern Cape, South Africa and in many ways, I had a magical childhood where I had freedom to be a child against the backdrop of apartheid. My father and mother were British ex-pats who were appalled by apartheid.

While working in Uitenhage after matriculating, thinking about my future, I became aware of gunshots and wounded and screaming people streaming past the shop where I worked. That was the day of those terrible killings in Langa.

Since then, Langa has niggled and nudged at me for over thirty years. Now living in the shadow of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, I finally feel able to tell this story. As I walk and roam through Wiltshire, even here in the lush green countryside, I hear them beg me to tell their story.