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Russell Kaschula Explains the Family History that Led Him to Write Displaced

Displaced “It is about finding commonality between two cultures which did not trust the English at that time, remembering that the Germans and Wends were placed next to the amaXhosa to act as a buffer zone between the English and the amaXhosa”, Russell Kaschula told David Macgregor from The Herald about his book, Displaced.

It was an old family photograph that inspired Kaschula to write the 12 stories that make up the book. He found the photo of his relatives from the 1850s while researching his Wendisch-German roots. His “great, great, great grandparents Matheus and Anna Kaschula – who fought for the English in the Crimean war and were later displaced to the British Cape colony to farm in a buffer zone with the amaXhosa” and then in 1976 Kaschula and his parents were displaced from their farm when the Transkei bantustan was formed. “It is this fruit-salad of continual human displacement that the book tries to unravel and explore”, says Kaschula.

An ancient photograph of long-dead relatives who fled Europe for South Africa in the 1850s, has inspired a Rhodes University language professor to write about life in the Eastern Cape and other parts of the country over the past 150 years.

A fascinating mix of fact and fiction, which Xhosa expert Professor Russell Kaschula calls faction, the 12 short stories in his acclaimed Displaced provide a glimpse into his own gypsy roots and the deep Xhosa spiritual connection he developed growing up in the ’60s and ’70s on isolated farms in Stutterheim and Transkei.

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