Imaginings of Sand by Andre Brink

Imaginings of Sand by André Brink is, simply put, a masterpiece. Not only does it bring convincing characters to life, flesh out the history of a people, portray the fortunes of a family coping with imposed and unwanted change, it also addresses one of the main political events of the late twentieth century. And André Brink´s novel does all this without the slightest recourse to polemic or posturing. Its themes and statements emerge from the shared lives of its characters. This is subtle authorship at its most accomplished. How many novels might aspire even to one of these achievements?We are, as in many works by André Brink, not only in South Africa, but also within the Afrikaner community. We see things through the eyes of Kristien, who is clearly named after her grandmother, the dying Ouma, who is called Kistina. The difference between the names is both slight and significant. They may be separated by time and by political difference, but by the time history has had a chance to view them both, they may be much more similar than first sight might suggest. They are undoubtedly cast in different landscapes, not only in time, but also in terms of the landmarks that might endow their individual sense of permanence. Not only do their values seem different, surely they conflict, given their different politics and ages. Mid-thirties Kristien, of course, has been politically active, while her grandmother has lived on an Afrikaner farm all her life.

Imaginings of Sand begins with Kristien being summoned back to South Africa, because her grandmother is dying. In London, Kristien has had ties with the African National Congress and has campaigned against Apartheid. Her family, with roots stretching back to the original Voortrekkers are, on the face of things, conventional Afrikaner farmers, complete with black servants and employees alongside attitudes that accept without question the supremacy of the Dutch Reform Church, allied to supreme white skin and thus Apartheid.The message to Kristien in London arrives as South Africa faces change, just before its first multi-radial elections. Apartheid is already a thing of the past, but not yet officially. Political transition is feared by the Afrikaners and there has been much talk of feared violence, even of bloodbath. Kristien´s family house has been attacked and set on fire. Ouma was very old and perhaps frailer than she liked to admit, but now trauma has taken her close to death. Her doctors expect it to be just a few days hence. Her granddaughter insists she should die at home. She has the place cleaned up and made habitable enough for herself and her grandmother, plus, of course, the servant family.Once home, Ouma Kristina begins to tell her granddaughter the family history and her own life story. How much of it is truth neither Kristien nor we will ever know. Whatever racial or cultural purity the family in theory might claim, Ouma´s history of their ancestry identifies the inevitable complexity. But a thread that runs throughout is the central vulnerability of women. Sweet children, then playthings and finally enforced child-bearers seems to be the repeated and indeed only pattern. Any deviation assumes a break from both culture and identity, but it is a break that anyone from an Afrikaner community finds almost impossible to accomplish. Publicly condemned for any expression of independence, women are equally damned for any sign of disloyalty to community or family or husband, no matter how inconsiderate, lascivious or even violent he may be. For the first time, Kristien comes to terms with the life her own mother led before she died all too young.

History seems to have repeated itself a number of times. Anna, Kristien´s sister, seems to be respectably but unhappily married to Casper, who is both Boer and boor. When he is not chasing a woman´s tail, he is busy organising what can only be described as a vigilante force to anticipate problems of majority rule. They seem determined to get their retaliation in first.And so the tale of family and national history unfolds. The politics of state, community, family and sex develop and intertwine. Race, gender and class play their roles as well. But yet this novel never descends into polemic. It is never less than credible, never less than real. Its style, indeed, in often an African variety of magical realism that both amplifies and enlivens the already fantastical stories of Ouma Kristina. The plot always surprises, even to the very end, but none of these events, however, bizarre, is anything less than credible, From the start, it is a masterpiece.

Growing Your Online Social Community Effectively

Social communities are all around you and the chances are very good that you are a part of at least a few online social communities for your business. However, did you ever think about building your own online community and populating it with the people who you feel will be most effective? There are easy ways to accomplish that and before you know it, you will have created an amazing online social community of your own.

Choosing the right theme and the right people
When it comes to growing a social community online, there are certain important things that you will want to consider so that your community is really effective and it really accomplishes the goals that you have set up to accomplish over time.

Once you have been able to build your social community, you will need to grow that community and continue to populate it with the most appropriate people so that the discussions that occur help the community to flourish. That means that you not only need to work the community once you have attracted the initial number of people but that you also need to continue to attract the right kind of people so that your community can grow and grow in the right way.

At this point, you are probably wondering exactly you should go about establishing and growing your social community and you should understand that it is not as intimidating or difficult as you may think it is.

  • Recognize that establishing and growing your online social community is a really good thing: There are several positive aspects of this. First of all, if the community belongs to you, you have control over who you admit and who you don’t admit. You can choose to put limits on the types of discussions that occur or to let the people who are interacting to have a tremendous amount of freedom with the discussions that they are having. It is totally your call. Of course, the other people have free will. They can choose to be a part of your community or not. If they choose to leave, so be it. On the other hand, if they find your community to be valuable and to support their values and what they are trying to accomplish with their own businesses, they will probably be with you for quite a while. Another thing that is totally under your control is the types of people you want to have in your community. You can promote the community in different ways and you can customize your promotion to appeal to the people you want to have around you. You should remember that if you populate your community with the right people, the quality of the interactions that you share with the community members will be very high.
  • Do it for the right reasons: If you are going to go through the effort and time to establish your community and then to populate it with cherry-picked members, you need to make sure that the commitment that you are making to the community is for the right reasons. Your community is a reflection of you and of the members of your community. That means that you will express your values and anyone who is involved with your community will understand your position on a whole bunch of issues, not to mention that your core values and your mission will be apparent as well. Just as is the case with the other communities (belonging to other people) of which you are a member, you will need to revolve around top-quality, relevant, valuable content that allows the community to grow in the right direction. It is important to remain well aware of the fact that your community is made up of human beings. That means that you all interact on an emotional level. That fact alone will allow you to grow the groups successfully because the relationships that you share with the other group members will become deeper and more meaningful over time.
  • Choose the right members: In addition to establishing your social community for the right reasons, you also need to choose the right people with whom to populate your community. Without them, your community will not be successful. You will want to be very careful about the demographics that you choose. Considering that it is an online community, geography may not play an extremely important role. However, each community is different and your community may end up being a combination of online and in-person. That is entirely up to you. Whatever demographic aspects you choose, you will want to make sure that the people who possess those features actually enhance your community.
  • Ensure that your community experience is valuable to your members: The truth is that there is a lot of information out there and, let’s be honest, a lot of garbage out there as well. The fact is that, once you establish your community, you have a responsibility to the members of that community. You should make certain decisions right at the beginning, as you are building the foundation of your community. It is important to remember that your social community is not just for your benefit. The members of the community deserve just as much as you do. The only difference between you is that you are in a position in which you can make decisions. In your quest to attract the most appropriate people, you will need to make a tremendous effort to let those people know that not only is your community worthwhile for them but that you will also do your best to make them want to stick around for a long time. Smoke and mirrors can be very impressive; however, if you have not substance or real meaning to your community, what is the point?
  • The people are what is important: The reality is that you will need to tell the right people about your community; however, the promotion of the community is not nearly as important as the people themselves. Your community is a democracy (to a great extent). That means that your members have opinions, thoughts, and feelings that matter to you and that matter to the community as a whole. You must always make the community members understand that you are not in it by yourself. Without them, there would be no community. Human beings love to be valued and they love to feel that there needs and want are important.

Your online social community can really do a lot of great work. Your online social community will increase your business’ visibility and your credibility will increase. The people in your community will take you a very long way if you choose them appropriately. For that reason, you will want to take your time and choose them carefully. If you combine the right people (who have all sorts of amazing ideas) with the right information (content that is on target and extremely effective), you have a winning combination that will be a raging success.