What happened in chapter 8 of Journey to Jo'Burg by Beverley Naidoo ?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Journey to Jo'burg by Beverley Naidoo was published in 1985 but only released for publication in South Africa after it was unbanned in the early 1990s. During Apartheid, it was common practice for black parents from rural areas to leave their small children in the care of relatives, often aging grandparents. The parents then sought work in the major cities such as Johannesburg, in order to earn sufficient money to send home for the children and other family members who were without work. Naledi and Tiro's mother works in Johannesburg and, although the children know it's far away, they have no concept of the real distance.  

The children do make it to Johannesburg and find their mother but they are unable to stay with her overnight due to the strict laws and an apparently, unfriendly "Madam," the home owner for whom the children's mother works. They will stay with Grace, a woman who saw that they needed some help to negotiate Johannesburg's unjust and unfamiliar laws governing who can get on which train. Grace knows that it is unlikely that they will be able to stay with their mother in Parktown. 

In chapter 8, the children are with Grace, on the way to Soweto, (the word Soweto is an acronym for South Western Township),an area where black people are allowed to live because they are not allowed, without a "pass book," to stay in the "white" suburbs. As anticipated, they cannot stay overnight with their mother, before starting the journey home the next day. The train is packed and the children get separated from Grace and, in the push they end up on the train platform as the train pulls away from the station while Grace is still on the train. As the children consider what they should do, there is a "pass raid" and people are running, some searching for the required pass books which give them permission to be in this neighborhood and others just running scared.

The children watch in horror as the police will not accept the claims of one man that he has left his book, mistakenly, at home.  "Hou jou bek," (shut up) is all the policeman will say. As the children are under sixteen, they are waved through by the police and decide to go to the home of the man who forgot his pass book as they heard him say it is very close by. However, they, and the man's son who runs back with his father's pass book, are too late. 

Grace is now back at the station, looking for the children and the three are reunited. Tiro is anxious to tell Grace all about what they have just witnessed.  

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Journey to Jo'burg

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