TITLE: Marula Ridge
GENRE: Middle Grade
The bus struggled uphill, belching black smoke with every grinding gear change, carrying Simon on a journey to the top of the escarpment. Never before had he ventured this far from Marula Ridge, the farm where he'd been born.
He'd climbed aboard at dawn, excited to be leaving his old life behind, but already he missed his home, his mother and his little brother, Gideon. He hadn't listened when they begged him not to go. He'd been so eager to follow Nelson Mandela's call to arms; so determined to join the guerrilla movement fighting to free his people.
Now twinges of uncertainty began gnawing at his belly. How could he, a fifteen-year-old farm boy, help overthrow the mighty Apartheid regime? He must have been crazy to believe such a dream.
The old black man sitting next to Simon fished a paper bag from the inside pocket of his jacket. Carefully, he folded back the edges, revealing the neck of a bottle. With shaking hands, he unscrewed the cap and raised the bottle to his lips. The sharp smell of alcohol assaulted Simon's nostrils, overpowering the stench of sweaty bodies and diesel fuel that filled the bus.
Smacking his lips, the man offered the bottle to Simon, but he smiled and shook his head. He must stay alert. When they reached Igoli, he would have to find his way to the address that his friend, Moses, had given him. He tried to imagine what the city would be like - Johannesburg, Igoli, City of Gold.