‘Striving to get hold of fleeting memories and slippery images of the past’ – Ronnie Kasrils on the writing of his book Catching Tadpoles
More about the book!
In Catching Tadpoles: The Shaping of a Young Rebel Ronnie Kasrils answers the question that he has been asked innumerable times: ‘What made a young white boy give up privilege and join the liberation struggle?’
Kasrils takes the reader on a rambunctious ride through his childhood set against the backdrop of apartheid South Africa. His family is warm and supportive and teach him to be sensitive to injustice. At the age of 21 he gives up a life of privilege for one of danger and sacrifice, including 27 years living in exile while working for the ANC. He was also one of the founding members of Umkhonto we Sizwe in Natal in 1961.
The pages burst with anecdotal stories that are not only enjoyable to read and connect together like a racy novel but can teach old and young, black and white much about inclusiveness and bringing hope for all South Africans.
‘I had a vivid recall for the key turning points of my life and no sooner was the suggestion made by my publisher that I respond to the challenge than I began to plunge into the task before me.
‘Plunge being the operative term for in fact I took to it like a duck to water, as I enjoy passing time in a swimming pool, where meditation comes very easily to me. It was there that the metaphor of catching tadpoles came to mind, not only because of my childhood fascination with the impish creatures, but because in the environment of the pool I found that striving to get hold of fleeting memories and slippery images of the past was akin to catching those eccentric amphibians-to-be with one’s bare hands.
‘I rely heavily on memory, backed up by research where possible, to enable me to be sure of certain times, places and events. I haven’t been challenged in the other three books as to the fallibility or otherwise of my memory, which is surprising since memory is notoriously unreliable.’
Kasrils is author of the bestselling memoir Armed and Dangerous, which has been translated into German, Russian and Spanish, A Simple Man and the Alan Paton Award-winning The Unlikely Secret Agent, which has been translated into French. A commander in Umkhonto weSizwe from its inception in 1961 until 1990, he served in government from 1994 to his resignation as minister for intelligence in 2008. He describes himself as a social activist and lives in Johannesburg.