‘African Assignment’ by Theo Engela – edited by Christina Engela


This past week, ‘African Assignment‘, my dad’s collection of short stories, was released via LightBearer Publishing – which is based in Johannesburg, South Africa – now available via Amazon.

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African Assignment – edited by Christina Engela

Although my dad carried the heavy burden of a long traditional family name – namely ‘Theodorus Cornelius Landman Engela’, he preferred to go by ‘Theo Engela’.  A humble and cultured man from humble but honorable beginnings, over his lifetime (1930-1985), he became fairly well-known (locally) as a South African author. During the 1960’s and 70’s, numerous short stories written by him appeared in radio dramatizations on Springbok Radio (SABC) produced by Michael Mc Cabe, with numerous mentions in the radio news publications and local newspapers over the years.

Dad died at the age of 55, when I was 12 – and over the years since his death, I’ve been privileged to hear from older people who remembered his name and his stories which they heard dramatized and broadcast on Springbok Radio! Most recently, the lady at LightBearer called me from her grandma’s house to tell me that her grandma didn’t believe her when she said she was currently formatting the collection of ‘that‘ Theo Engela’s short stories! She made a special request for me to send her the only digitized audio copy of one of Dad’s short stories I had – which was recorded back in the 1970’s off a Springbok Radio broadcast – for her to listen to!

It’s been a privilege for me to edit my dad’s work to be part of this collection – taken directly from scans of his original typed manuscripts in his archive. He was an insightful man, ahead of his time in a lot of ways – and since he died when I was very young, it has helped me to get to know him a little better.

A lot of Theo Engela’s stories were set in the South African bushveld and in popular society of the 1950’s and 60’s. Some of them have a hint or feel of Hitchcock. Dad used to write ordinary South African characters, and going against the trend of his day, he wrote about native South Africans and their cultures with an almost anthropological admiration and respect.

On the back cover of ‘African Assignment‘:

“Theo Engela’s short stories were written during the 1950’s and 60’s, and set in the South African bushveld and society of the day, providing a fresh look at a world now long vanished. Using imagery and place names unfamiliar to folk living in the 21st century, the author shows us a simpler, less complicated world filled with wonder and mystery, where crime could still be perfect and the world lived fearfully under the ever-present threat of the Cold War. Mesmerizing African folklore and almost-vanished cultures stand side by side. Rounded off in his own unique style, he displays a biting sense of humor and irony in his work, which would probably not seem out of place in a Hitchcock serial or even in the Twilight Zone.”

More about Theo Engela

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