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.
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