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Born in Chains

Category: Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN:   9781868428762
Publisher:  Jonathan Ball Publishers
On sale: May 2018
List price: R210
Format: Paperback
eBook ISBN
9781868428779 

Born in Chains: The Diary of an Angry ‘Born Free


Clinton Chauke


What is it like to be born dirt-poor in South Africa? Clinton Chauke knows, having been raised alongside his two sisters in a remote village bordering the Kruger National Park and a squatter camp outside Pretoria.

Clinton is a young village boy when awareness dawns of how poor his family really is: there’s no theft in the village because there’s absolutely nothing to steal. But fire destroys the family hut, and they decide to move back to the city. There he is forced to confront the rough-and-tumble of urban life as a ‘bumpkin’. He is Venda, whereas most of his classmates speak Zulu or Tswana and he has to face their ridicule while trying to pick up two or more languages as fast as possible.

With great self-awareness, Clinton negotiates the pitfalls and lifelines of a young life: crime and drugs, football, religion, friendship, school, circumcision and, ultimately, becoming a man. Throughout it all, he displays determination as well as a self-deprecating humour that will keep you turning the pages till the end.

Clinton’s story is one that will give you hope that even in a sea of poverty there are those that refuse to give up and, ultimately, succeed.


Clinton Chauke is a social critic, a fierce debater and a Pan-Africanist at heart. He is currently working as a junior mining technician at Solar Mining Services, one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of explosives in the world. He can be described in many words, but one label he flatly rejects is that of ‘born-free’ – surprising, considering he was born in 1994. Clinton argues that neither he nor the people born in and after 1994 are truly free.

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