Down 2nd Avenue by Es'kia Mphahlele
Picador Africa; New Ed edition (2004)
Soft Cover, 211 pages
First published in 1959, Down Second Avenue is Nobel Prize nominee Es'kia Mphahlele's autobiography of his South African childhood and his struggle against discrimination. The memoir tells of Es'kia's childhood in Maupaneng, a small village outside Pietersburg, and Marabastad, a location in Pretoria. Here he showed academic promise. This resulted in a career as a teacher. After a number of years, though, he was barred from teaching because of his vocal opposition to the segregation and discrimination occurring in schools. Mphahlele then worked for Drum magazine in various capacities. The biography culminates in his exile from South Africa in 1957. Down Second Avenue is Mphahlele's personal account of his struggle for identity and dignity in the face of the growing discriminatory policies of the South African government. It is a compelling mix of humour and pathos. Es'ka Mphahlele was born in 1919. He qualified as a teacher at Adam's College in Natal, and from 1945-1952 taught at Orlando High School. He later joined the staff of Drum magazine. Meanwhile, he continued to study part-time and in 1956 was awarded his master's degree by the University of South Africa. In 1957 he left South Africa and would remain in exile until 1977. He lived in Nigeria, Paris and the USA and lectured at various universities as well as serving as director of Congress of Cultural Freedom in Paris. He received a Ph.D. at the University of Denver. After returning to South Africa, Mphahlele joined the University of the Witwatersrand as professor of African Literature. He retired in 1987. Mphahlele was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel "The Wanderers" (1968).