Briefing from ROAPE Volume 32 Number 106
Alex La Guma: Twenty Years in Cuban Memories
2005 marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of Alex La Guma, and the 20th anniversary of his death. Both are remembered in Cuba, the country where he lived and produced many works that we continue to locate and collect. &break;Justin Alexander La Guma was born in Cape Town on 20 February 1925, in a working-class family, the son of a well-known South African freedom fighter. He spent his early years in the ‘Sixth District’, a proletarian Coloured neighbourhood that exerted a strong influence on his character (Rixaka, 1986:17). He tried unsuccessfully to fight - at age thirteen - in Spain with the international brigades and, a shortly after, in World War Two (La Guma, 1981b:8). Having spent his adolescence between demonstrations, public protests and reading, he began to work at a factory of predominantly Black workers as a clerk, a labourer and finally a bookkeeper. Here he experienced the economic exploitation that he had read about: he joined the workers’ union and was discharged for organising a strike (Ibid. pp. 8-9). He joined the Communist Youth League in 1947 and the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1948.