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Swimming with Cobras

by Rosemary Smith

Swimming with Cobras is a memoir about a journey to find a foothold in a foreign land grappling with its own identity, offering rare and important insight into a corner of South Africa's past. Rosemary Smith's life as an activist in the Eastern Cape began when she moved from England with her South African born husband in the mid-1960s. They made their home in Grahamstown where they raised four children. As a member of the Black Sash she participated in events spanning three decades in an intensely politicised and oppressed province. Through her involvement she made the transition to full integration in a country that at first struck her as alien and strange.

ISBN 9781920397371 | 186 pages | 229 x 152 mm | 2012 | Modjaji Books, South Africa | Paperback


eBook ISBN: 9781920590215


“In providing a vivid, and highly personalised account of the activities of a few extraordinary, white, middle class women in the small towns of apartheid South Africa, this book provides a new understanding of the anti-apartheid struggle.”

Jacklyn Cock, Professor Emeritus, University of the Witwatersrand

“The Eastern Cape, for all its rugged landscape and cruel apartheid divisions, worked its way into the heart and head of a young English social worker. Facing its challenges, she nurtured her family, threw herself into working for justice and peace, and found herself dealing with forced removals, detentions of political activists and the viciousness of the state security system. Smith’s book reveals her as a woman of warmth, courage and strength.”

Mary Burton, National President of the Black Sash 1985–1990 and TRC Commissioner

“A biography of socialisation and struggle on South Africa’s ever-troubled Eastern Cape Frontier…written with both candour and courage…the finest modern book written about Grahamstown…”

Peter Vale



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