Fiela's Child

Fiela's Child Study Guide

Fiela’s Child is a 1985 novel by the South African writer Dalene Matthee. It tells the story of Fiela Komoetie, a black woman in 19th-century South Africa who finds a white toddler at her doorstep. She takes him in, names him Benjamin, and raises him alongside her other four children. At 12 years old, Benjamin is suddenly taken away when his original family, the forest-dwelling van Rooyens, claims that he is their long-lost son, Lukas, who disappeared nine years earlier. Benjamin’s transition from family to family and Fiela's tireless quest to get him home bring to light questions of identity as well as 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.