The Longest March – Fred Khumalo


This novel is based on actual events. On the eve of the Anglo-Boer War, seven thousand black men find themselves marooned in Johannesburg when the gold mines are shut down and the workers dismissed.

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Many of them came from distant parts of the country and now they have no choice but to trek home on foot, as the trains have stopped running. The workers brave perilous terrain, wild animals and hostile farmers to make the laborious journey to Natal on foot. This is a tale of hardship, but also of an unusual romance.

Among the refugees are Philippa (a white woman forced to disguise her identity) and her fiancé Nduku, a Zulu miner whom she followed to the goldmines. The arduous voyage home prompts within them an inevitable introspection and, with each passing kilometre, they venture further into each other’s personal histories, their hopes and fears. It seems that happiness may be within their grasp, but their relationship is complicated by a third party – a fellow marcher with their own claims to love – and none of them is guaranteed to survive. 


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