Fiela's Child Background

Fiela's Child Background

Dalene Matthee is a South African novelist born on October 13, 1938 in Riversdale, Western Cape. As a child, she was always an avid reader, signaling her future career as a successful author. After graduating from Langenhoven High School, she pursued music at a local conservatory and wrote prose during her free time. Her foray into the literary scene began with the publication of her first book, The Twelve-O'Clock Stick, in 1970.

In 1985, Matthee released a novel entitled Fiela’s Child, which tells the story of Fiela, a black woman in 19th century South Africa who finds a white baby at her doorstep. She takes him in as one of her own and names him Benjamin, but when he is a teenager, his original family reclaims him. Benjamin’s transition from family-to-family will highlight the unconditional love of Fiela and emphasize what it truly means to be a mother.

Upon its publication, Fiela’s Child garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics for its heartwarming portrayal of a boy torn between two worlds. It was ultimately adapted into a film of the same name in 1988, directed by Katinka Heyns and starring Shaleen Surtie-Richards, André Rossouw, and Lida Botha. Matthee's illustrious writing career was unfortunately cut short when she died on February 20, 2005 at age 66.

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