A Darker Shade of Pale

A Darker Shade of Pale tells the story of life as a person of mixed race in apartheid South Africa.

After the National Party gained power in South Africa in 1948, the all-white government took control by legislating their policies of racial segregation under a system called apartheid.

Forced to live among the sand dunes and narrow streets of Council housing estates, through her mixed ancestry Beryl was classified as Coloured, not white enough or not black enough. This allowed the government to shape her life, where she was allowed to live, to attend school, to sit on the train, to work, and who she could marry.

Growing up in council housing estates on the Cape Flats in the 1960s and early 1970s it wasn’t until reaching high school that she discovered a richer life on the other side of the tracks for those classified as white. The stark reality of the inequality towards her skin colour made her question her ancestry and her parents’ acceptance of their classification. She was drawn to joining rallies to fight the government but at home any such discussions were strongly dismissed.

It is a remarkable story of the resilience of her parents, particularly her mother Sarah who recognised that the future for her children was through education. Sarah, faced with many challenges – the death of a young child, a husband suffering ill-health, five children to feed and to keep a roof over their head powered the way forward to increase their chances of a better life should apartheid crumble.

A Darker Shade of Pale is a moving account of Beryl’s family and community life in segregated South Africa – the injustices, humiliation and challenges and finally finding acceptance when she moved to Australia in the 1980s.

Release date: 17 April 2018

7 thoughts on “A Darker Shade of Pale”

  1. Nice to meet you. Congrats on your upcoming release–so exciting. I write a blog on Women of Courage. Might you or your mother consider a feature? I had numerous female mentors who guided me through a violent childhood; my blog is meant to be inspirational and to give back. You can find it at LaughingAtTheSky.blog. You can learn more and/or contact me through the About page. Thanks.

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  2. Hi Beryl, there is undoubtedly high praise , indeed from South African whom I respect tremendously, namely Jonathan Jansen. I actually first heard about your book when I read your interview with GS – editor of The Southern Cross Catholic newspaper. I think that you used your talent to write this novel in good faith. However. I always experience an uncomfortable niggle when stories are written and published by people who left South Africa for greener pastures – people who left to escape Apartheid. As family and friends we share these stories all the time and we laugh till the tears roll and it’s effects are cathartic. You left this country many years ago and your stories of Beryl, nostalgia appeal to many, but it ends there. There were millions of us who remained, continued to fight and die for our liberation and yes, the struggle continues. Please let the South African stories be told by South Africans who stayed, struggled and fought for our freedom. When authors like yourself write nostalgic stories it just smacks of opportunism. My question to you is when South Africa held its first democratic election in 1994, what stopped you and others from returning to the country of your birth. I’m sorry ma’am, but you can’t have your cake and eat it. We deserve far greater respect than that. We need people who are committed to making this country great, by God’s infinite grace and mercy, even though our situation seems desperate right now. Not persons who are profiting looking from the outside, eloquently spewing forth sentimentality from yesteryear.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to write to me. Can I presume that you did not read my book? If you did you would know firstly that I am a writer and can choose any topic to write about and secondly, my book is a memoir. That is something that cannot be taken away from me—my memories. My book was written with the intended audience being our future generations who will know why we are in Australia, what made us leave the country of our birth to start a new life somewhere else. Our memories continue no matter where we live. Not you or anyone else can take that away from me or indeed anyone else. If you think I am profiting, then you know nothing about writing. I wish you well.

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      1. Yes ma’am you’re a published writer. Sincerely – good for you. I’m not a published writer, but I have been a teacher of English and Afrikaans for more 30 years. My impact, which I hope has been positive for the most part, has been at grassroots level – teaching in some of Cape Town’s most dangerous townships. In my early twenties as a young teacher, I lost three much loved students who despite their trying behaviour, crept deep into my heart and they were murdered because of their gang affiliations. Me and so many of my fellow South Africans have countless stories to tell, but we’re just so busy working hard at making this country better against immeasurable odds. We love this country . We stayed here and we continue to commit daily, with God’s grace to do our best for this land we love AND Ms Crosher-Segers, for the whole of Africa. By the way, why not answer my question as to why you didn’t return? Your biggest criticism is that I know nothing about writing – you’re probably right, but I have lots of real
        living to do. Of course you’re entitled to your memories . It would absurd to suggest otherwise. My suggestion to you however is, enjoy your success, write your memoirs and then move on. We need people in South Africa who are willing to work hard to bring about lasting change. Relive your memories, but guess what? You’ve missed so much of the story. It continued without you and will continue to do so. Be happy in your new home land and write those stories.

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      2. I know I should not be taken aback but such open dislike by a fellow human being but for some reason I am. I am happy, I am contented and I write about all kinds of subjects. Whether we live in SA or abroad pur memories cannot be erased. You are entitled to your opinion and your view of me. We did not return to SA because our life is here now. We have had a crazy adventure, living and settling in a new country. We are firmly set here with four generations firmly rooted here. That does not mean that you or anyone else can attack me and others for settling in another country. I hope you teach your students to treat everyone with dignity and respect even if their decisions and opinions are different to theirs. What a wonderful world this will be if teachers of today were the teachers of olde. Once again thank you for your contribution.

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  3. Dear Ms Crosher-Segers, I would like to thank you for acknowledging and putting some thought into my comments. I’m sorry that you think I dislike you. That would be evidence of an immature spirit. My comments to you have been an expression of righteous indignation. In fact, this is the first time I have openly raised concerns to a public figure and newspaper. I feel that strongly about this. People of South Africa need to make their voices heard, especially if it’s about a subject that cuts right to the heart of its nation. You’ve asked that I teach my students to treat all people with dignity. Please God I hope I do. Here’s one thing with which you are out of touch. The legacy of Apartheid makes it imperative for us as parents and teachers to first teach our struggling youth that they HAVE dignity – yes 24 years still post democracy. I ask you to respect that. I ask you to honour the strength of a people who didn’t leave, couldn’t leave or chose to stay and one day, by God’s infinite mercy and grace, make this the great nation that Our Lord would have us be. May you and your extended family be blessed.

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  4. Well done! Writing is not easy, and getting published even harder – and you did it! I look forward to reading your book! Please keep blogging – the story never ends! Oh, and fix those Aussies while you’re there, wouldya?

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