I am Gecko, a Yankee Zulu who runs away from the South African army to be a refugee in London, an illegal alien in the land of his forefathers. I am Jerusalem, a half-Jew, half-Moslem who reads Garcia Marquez and dreams of being a poet…but ends up running a market stall in the Cape with a Tanzanian refugee boy as his sidekick. I am Jabulani, a Zimbabwean teacher of Hemingway who loses his post after cracking a jibe at Mugabe and flees south over the Limpopo to seek a life beyond fear. I am Pagan Angel, a freedom fighter who feels shortchanged by the freedom Mandela yearned so long for…by the way it has been hijacked by ANC hotshots zooming along in their flashy motorcars, cocking a finger at the poor.
I write for Sugar, a vinyl guru in Cape Town who loves Jesus Rodriquez. I write for Joshua Sternlicht, a New York filmmaker in Manila who loves indie folk. I write for a wayfarer and stringer called La France who brews beer and dreams in Palmer, Alaska. I write for my son Finn born in Frankfurt who plucks his reggae guitar in Hanoi. I write for my daughter Mia born in Vienna who plays I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee on her clarinet. And for my other daughter Asia born in Singapore who learnt to count by counting monkeys in Bali. And I write for me (teaching in this existential limbo called Luxembourg), the guy with a South African passport, a UK driving license, a German residence visa and a mad heart.
–Troy Blacklaws was born in 1965 in Natal, South Africa. At 14 he discovered South Africa was a world pariah and that black men were shot in their struggle for freedom. He studied at Rhodes University and then spent two bitter years as a conscript in the army, where he refused to carry a gun. His books include Cruel Crazy Beautiful World, Blood Orange, Bafana Bafana: A Story of Soccer, Magic and Mandela, and Karoo Boy.
2paragraphs gives special thanks to Anderson Tepper for curating our International Writers Interviews. Mr. Tepper is on the staff of Vanity Fair and is a Contributing Editor at Words Without Borders.