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The Native Commissioner Essay Topics

As a Native Commissioner through the 1940's to 1960's, George Jameson was responsible for the welfare of the natives' in his appointed region. He prided himself on furthering relations between communities, speaking several tribal languages fluently and developing a reputation as a man to be trusted and sought after for help and advice. With a thriving young family, a devotAs a Native Commissioner through the 1940's to 1960's, George Jameson was responsible for the welfare of the natives' in his appointed region. He prided himself on furthering relations between communities, speaking several tribal languages fluently and developing a reputation as a man to be trusted and sought after for help and advice. With a thriving young family, a devoted wife and a quick succession of promotions, George is proud of everything he has achieved so far, in particular the understanding he is fostering between whites and blacks. Then, in the wake of the 1948 elections, George feels a shift in the Native Affairs Department's agenda. As he is shunted from one outpost to another, his role becoming ever more hopeless, his place in South Africa's future increasingly hazy, he feels the weight of his powerlessness and finds himself fighting off a crippling depression. "The Native Commissioner" is a heart-wrenching portrayal of a kind and conscientious man who felt himself cast adrift under the weight of South African apartheid....more

Hardcover, 244 pages

Published August 9th 2007 by Not Avail (first published January 28th 2004)

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Book Review: The Native Commissioner by Shaun Johnson


Abstract


Throughout the human cultural history, art has been used to expose the disparities of the society, as well as ponder the array of possible solutions to these deficiencies. The purpose of art has gone beyond aesthetic amusement, to serve the greater social function. Literature is perhaps the best art form fulfilling this function as it presents different worldviews embodied in living characters. This element is best depicted in the book The Native Commissioner by Shaun Johnson. This paper presents a brief review of the book.

Book Review: The Native Commissioner by Shaun Johnson


The Native Commissione

r revisits the harrowing history of South Africa through an ordinary character full of idealistic doctrines and values. It represents the issues that are pertinent to the present day nation of South Africa which is still harassed by the realities of a young democracy. On another level, the book is the story of the family struggles with a real, but often misjudged illness called depression.

The main character in the book is a man troubled with the guilt of being a part of a distasteful system that controls his actions and makes it impossible for him to follow is natural predispositions to be human and humane. The man, unable to reconcile the dichotomy of his existence, becomes schizophrenic. This man is George Jameson, the Native Commissioner. After an excellent school career, in which he learns the local Zulu and Xhosa languages, George enters government service, marries, and is promoted to commissioner responsible for the administration and welfare of the natives.

After several years of service, the government undergoes the ugliest of transformations. The National Party is elected in 1948 and introduces full-scale apartheid. The young idealist who envisaged racial integration is forced into the supremacist world signing racist policies. Perturbed by his own oppressive systems, George becomes oppressed, and depressed. He feels alienated from himself and begins withdrawing from his family. The illness ultimately costs his life.

At the time, his youngest son, Sam Jameson, is too small to comprehend the contradiction in their lives, and adores his father wholeheartedly. Many years later, Sam, with the support of his wife and family will dig into the mystery of his father’s depression to establish an understanding of his unhappy reality. In the process, Sam develops a better grasp of his own life. This book is a product of the details of Sam’s exploration.

Shaun Johnson, the author of the book, writes in such a nonchalant, matter-of-fact style that makes the book feel more of a documentary than fiction. But this very literary limitation offers authority to the narrative. Johnson, a distinguished South African journalist, has shed captivating light on the sad and often mystified history of his country. The Native Commissioner is an award winning literary work of great sensitivity that also assumes the serious role of social mirror.

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