The Miracle of Crocodile Flats

Jenny Hobbs

Random House Struik

R180

Billed as an affectionate satire, this is a hoot of a book, warm, witty with a gentle chuckle of recognition and humour on just about every page. It’s a feel-good tale with an ending you only wish could be true. No matter, it will brighten up your day.

At first sight there is not much room for laughter in Crocodile Flats. It’s the town that everyone, including the government, forgot. One piece of tar road, a few run-down buildings, a failed hotel, a shanty town, a remnant of poor whites, a few struggling churches – and a Boer homeland that nobody bothers to challenge.

Then Sweetness Moloi, aged 14, saw a vision on her way home from school.

She saw Ma-Jesu, Mary, the Mother of God, in all her brown African perfection.

The news spread, the world erupted, the world descended, the world changed… and so did Crocodile Flats and all its wry, funny characters and wry, funny perceptions.

Again and again you stop to laugh as the contradictions and contrasts of this crazy, mixed-up, glorious country of ours are held up in a few well-chosen words.

Characters abound, from feisty Father Liam and his chorus of nuns, to the amaPula and the Van de Lindes, who have more in common than they know, drunken Eddie Drinkwater at the local store, Vigilance the shoemaker, the town intelligencer, Captain Ngobese, trying to keep the peace, the Prophet Hallelujah, milking the situation, and many, many more, all human, funny and believable.

As the foreword says: “The rainbow nation was back in the world news, wearing a halo.”

I laughed my way through this book. It’s an absolute gem. – Jenny de Klerk