Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

A Burning Hunger
One Family’s Struggle Against Apartheid

By Lynda Schuster

“A major contribution to the history of the struggle era, giving a human face to a family that was idolized by black South Africans and demonized in white South Africa.”

Business Day

“A compelling story of a South African family that became deeply involved in this deadly, seemingly unending battle between black Africans and whites…. the accounts impressively combine to form one intensely felt narrative of life in apartheid South Africa.”

The Historian

A Burning Hunger is a vital reminder of one of the most intense political struggles in living memory. It's fascinating, triumphant and ultimately very sad.”

Time Out

“Of all the valuable books I have read, Schuster’s was the first to draw me so close that I could smell the burning tyres that barricaded Soweto streets that week; I could smell the thick smoke of burning shops and police vehicles—all coupled with a family's burning hunger for survival.”


If the Mandelas were the generals in the fight for black liberation, the Mashininis were the foot soldiers. Theirs is a story of exile, imprisonment, torture, and loss, but also of dignity, courage, and strength in the face of appalling adversity. Originally published in Great Britain to critical acclaim, A Burning Hunger: One Family’s Struggle Against Apartheid tells a deeply moving human story and is one of the seminal books about the struggle against apartheid.

This family, Joseph and Nomkhitha Mashinini and their thirteen children, became immersed in almost every facet of the liberation struggle—from guerrilla warfare to urban insurrection. Although Joseph and Nomkhitha were peaceful citizens who had never been involved in politics, five of their sons became leaders in the antiapartheid movement. When the students of Soweto rose up in 1976 to protest a new rule making Afrikaans the language of instruction, they were led by charismatic young Tsietsi Mashinini. Scores of students were shot down and hundreds were injured. Tsietsi’s actions on that day set in motion a chain of events that would forever change South Africa, define his family, and transform their lives.

A Burning Hunger shows the human catastrophe that plagued generations of black Africans in the powerful story of one religious and law-abiding Soweto family. Basing her narrative on extensive research and interviews, Lynda Schuster richly portrays this remarkable family and in so doing reveals black South Africa during a time of momentous change.

Lynda Schuster worked as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor in Africa, Central and South America, and the Middle East. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Utne, and the Atlantic Monthly. She now lives in Gainesville, Florida.   More info →

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Additional Praise for A Burning Hunger

“This is modern history written for a broad readership, and not necessarily an African one.”

Sunday Independent

A Burning Hunger is the history of a South African family that suffered, resisted and finally triumphed over apartheid: a book that is as fascinating as the best novels.”

Mario Vargas Llosa

“This is an earnest and passionate historical account, crafted from meticulous research and study. It is a narrative made for captivating reading and painful reminder of the brutality of the apartheid system. The book is a welcome addition to a much needed but historically neglected genre of struggle biography.”

Reverend Frank Chikane

“It is strange that no South African writer has thought of doing what Lynda Schuster, an American journalist, has done so well in this book—follow through the history of a black family in the context of the anti-apartheid struggle.”

The Sunday Times

“The great strength of the book is its narrative line…. Shuster did almost one hundred interviews and one feels as if one is seeing exile through the eyes of Tsietsi, Rocks, and Dee, and the emerging South Africa via Mpho and Tshepiso…. In this, she has given us a remarkable sense—national, international, and personal—of late apartheid era South Africa and its exiles.”

International Journal of African Historical Studies

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