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Author Stephanie Kemp


About the author - Stephanie Kemp

Stephanie Kemp was born in the Karoo in 1941 and grew up with her two sisters in Malmesbury in the Swartland. The town was dominated by the Dutch Reformed Church, and therefore her upbringing was dominated by Afrikaans traditions. Her father who was  deeply committed to Afrikaner nationalism arsing from the family's experiences in the South African War, worked as a principal of the Swartland Laerskool. Her cousins were members of the Afrikaner Broederbond. Her mother came from a Methodist missionary tradition.

After completing her matric in Port Elizabeth, Kemp went on to study Physiotherapy at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1960. Political turmoil in the country, particularly the Sharpeville Massacre, compelled Kemp to search for a political identity. She joined the Defence and Aid Fund in the Cape where she worked with Dora Alexander, Ray Edwards, Albie Sachs' mother, and Sarah Carneson among others. She was subsequently recruited into the South African Communist Party (SACP). Through her interaction with SACP members and its ideology she became radicalised. Most importantly, through the experience of Cape Town she became resistant to Afrikaans and subsequently refused to speak it anymore.

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About  the book - Through an Unforgettable Storm: The Forging of a Loyal Cadre

3D cover Stephanie Kemp

The Struggle against Apartheid South Africa is vividly reflected in this personal memoir of a white South African.  

Stephanie Kemp traces her origins in South Africa back to the 17th Century. She grew up in a conservative white Afrikaner family and small town community.  Despite this environment, she became aware of the discrimination against black South Africans even before she started school. She entered the University of Cape Town in 1960, a year of great upheaval in South Africa.  The year of the Sharpeville Massacre, a rural uprising in Mpondoland and the first attempt to assassinate the architect of Apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd.

When she was 20 years old she was recruited into the clandestine South African Communist Party that had been outlawed in 1950, more than ten years earlier.

She also became part of the African Resistance Movement sabotage organisation. For this she was detained in solitary confinement, beaten up, charged and remained in prison for a year and a half.  Much of this time she was the only white woman political prisoner.  

She left South Africa becoming stateless. In London she married lawyer Albie Sachs. Over the 24 years of her exile from her homeland, she remained involved in the underground work of the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress.  She worked closely with Joe Slovo and Dr. Yusuf Dadoo both icons of the liberation struggle.

She returned to South Africa in 1990 and participated in the excitement of the years to the ANC's victory in the first democratic elections of 1994.  She has also lived through the disappointment of the Jacob Zuma presidency and the response across wide sectors of the South African population  to the corrupt capture of the state he leads.



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