Alan Paton’s 115th birthday – “Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear.”
South African author and activist Alan Paton introduced the world to life in pre-Apartheid South Africa, fearlessly speaking out against racial segregation in person and through his books, and propagating universal franchise and non-violence.
Born in the Natal province (present day KwaZulu-Natal), the young Paton was subjected to extensive corporal punishment, which led to his lifelong opposition to any form of authoritarianism and physical punishment. Later, as administrator of the Diepkloof Reformatory for young black African offenders, he developed a controversial but compassionate system of reform that included open dormitories, work outside the prison walls, and home visitations.
After the Second World War, Paton toured correctional reform facilities across the world, during which time he started to write Cry, the Beloved Country. The book was published in 1948 — ironically the very year in which apartheid was formally institutionalized, beginning four decades of racial segregation in South Africa. His magnum opus is a moving tale of racial injustice, human suffering, and redemption, as two fathers come to terms with the loss of their sons — one an accidental murder and the other, his unfortunate victim.
Today’s Doodle depicts Paton on a train ride (on which he allegedly gained inspiration to write Cry, the Beloved Country) and celebrates the 115th birthday of a visionary who did much to fight for basic human principles of love, non-violence, and equality.
Happy Birthday, Alan Paton!
You can find more about Alan Paton’s 115th birthday on the official Google Doodle Page