Fiela's Child

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Fiela se Kind
(Fiela's Child)
Fiela's Child.jpg
Author Dalene Matthee
Original title Fiela se Kind
Country South Africa
Language Afrikaans
Genre Drama
Publisher Tafelberg Publishers Ltd
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Hardcover/Movie
Pages 314
ISBN 0-394-55231-8
OCLC 13003348
823 19
LC Class PR9369.3.M376 F5 1986

Fiela's Child is a South African novel written by Dalene Matthee and published in 1985. The book was originally written in Afrikaans under the name Fiela se Kind, and was later translated into not only English, but French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and Icelandic, among others.

The story is set in the forests of Knysna in South Africa in the nineteenth century, and tells the story of a Cape Coloured woman, Fiela, and her family who adopt an abandoned white child. Nine years later the child is taken away from the Fiela and forced to live with a white family of woodcutters who claim he is their lost son. His living conditions with the white people are actually much worse than with his coloured family who are seen as lower class because of their race. The climax of the story unfolds a few years later when the boy forces his "mother's" guilt to confess he is not actually her son and he returns to Fiela and family whom he chooses as his own.


Set in nineteenth-century rural South Africa. Fiela's Child tells the gripping story of Fiela Komoetie and a white, three-year-old child,Benjamin, whom she finds crying on her doorstep. For nine years Fiela raises Benjamin as one of her own children. But When census takers discover Benjamin, they send him to an illiterate white family of woodcutters who claim him as their son. What follows is Benjamin's search for his identity and the fundamental changes affecting the white and black families who claim him.

The aspect of liminality[edit]

In the novel by Dalene Matthee the aspect of liminality plays a major role. Liminality is the stage in which a person could decide what and whom to be. In the liminal stage from the context of the novel, Benjamin is in the liminal stage he does not know and is not aware of his true identity. Also, the setting is described to be in the liminal stage hence it is between to mountains. The aspect therefore plays a major role in the novel.


Dalene Matthee (13 October 1938 – 20 February 2005) was a South African author best known for her four Forest Novels, written in and around the Knysna Forest.Her books have been translated into fourteen languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and Icelandic,and over a million copies have been sold worldwide.


The book was made into a movie in 1988. [1] The ending is changed as Fiela gets her child back.