It would seem that no matter how many wonderful books are written on the subject of (legal or illegal) immigrants and asylum seekers or anyone else who happens to end up wandering from one place to another, people still don’t understand, and they still persecute those forced to go somewhere they don’t ‘properly belong.’
Surely everyone who reads Michael Williams’ Now Is the Time for Running, will understand why people have to move, and can sympathise? This journey book is as important as many others before it, and it would be good to use this type of story in schools. Maybe it’s impossible to completely stamp out prejudice towards ‘the different’ outsider, but we must try.
Starting in Zimbabwe, the book describes the horrific slaughter of almost a whole village, where only moments earlier the most interesting thing for Deo was to play football. Afterwards he and his brother Innocent have to escape to stay alive, and they slowly make their way to South Africa, the promised land.
Except as with so many stories like theirs, they discover it’s not so promised after all. They are not wanted. More than once Deo wonders why they’d gone through all they did, if this is what it was going to be like.
There are more horrific happenings, and although the book doesn’t end outwardly badly, Michael Williams mentions things in his Author’s Note to make you wonder what really will happen to the displaced in South Africa, and everywhere else.
Football helps Deo, to some extent, but will it be of lasting benefit?
This is such a compelling read, so necessary, and so scary. Journey books have evolved, and don’t always provide completely happy endings for their protagonists.
(When you know what the title stands for, you will love it.)