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
Series symbols =
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 English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew Icelandic and Sinhalese, among others.

The story is set in the forests of Knysna, 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 her 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 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 that he is not actually her son and he returns to Fiela and her family, whom he chooses as his own.


Set in nineteenth-century rural South Africa. Fiela's Child tells the 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 Benjamin to be their son. What follows is Benjamin's search for his identity and the fundamental changes affecting the white and Coloured families who claimed him..

The aspect of liminality[edit]

In the novel by Dalene Matthee the aspect of liminality, in which a person is able to decide who and what to be, plays a major role. In the novel, Benjamin is in the liminal stage, and is unaware of his true identity. Also, the setting is described to be in the liminal stage hence it takes place on both sides of a mountain[ambiguous].


The book was made into a film in 1988 and starred Shaleen Surtie-Richards as Fiela. [1]