'Dancing to a Different Rhythm' is the perspective of a wife and mother on life before and after the successful defeat in 1994 of South Africa's white supremacist system of lawful racism - 'apartheid' - by the country's then leading liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC).

Published in 2006 and reprinted in 2010 by Zebra Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House South Africa, this book has been nominated for the Alan Paton Award for nonfiction and also won the Homebru Award celebrating South African writing talent. See an excerpt from it below.

Having sold out the second print run, it's been available on the following e-book platforms too: Kindle at and as an e-book at, Amazon Mobipocket, Baker & Taylor Blio,, Kobo, On The Dot and OverDrive eBooks.

‘This book humanises the struggle against apartheid in a way that no other publication has done to date. It gives us an invaluable insight into the parallel struggle that went on in the family waged by the women and the children. It is beautifully written and makes riveting reading.’ 
– Professor Fatima Meer, Women’s Leader, Sociologist and Author
‘There is an alternative inside history that comes not from historians but from men and women whose lives have been totally dedicated, at great personal risk, to political struggle. The testament of Zarina Maharaj, given eloquently by her in this memoir is brave, and will be controversial.’
Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Laureate of Literature    

‘Just as it used to be illegal to speak the truth in the old dispensation, it should be illegal not to speak the truth in the new era that we are all part of in the New South Africa. Zarina Maharaj’s memoirs, not just of her tortuous years in the struggle with her husband Mac, in exile and during the perilous times back “home”, but also of her early life, complicated racial and religious family dynamics, and a reluctant departure from the Native Land, are compelling, and remind us all that we have a duty to future generations to tell it like it was, and like it is.’
John Matshikiza, Playwright, Actor and Writer

‘A compelling and inspiring story of the life journey of a talented and courageous woman who, with her husband, was victimised but not defeated by political machination and intrigue.’
 – Lord Joel Joffe, Member of the British House of Lords
Sowetan Newspaper, 1 July 2008
‘Dancing to a Different Rhythm’ by Zarina Maharaj is one of the most honest books I have ever read. Very rarely does one come across a memoir so unapologetic.
This is why I loved Maharaj’s book about her life before and with former transport minister Mac Maharaj. It is an honest tale of a life hard fought and well lived.

The book captures also the story of Jo (Zarina’s mother) who was unwilling to see her children grow up without options and possibilities of a better life. After a failed marriage she sells off what little she has and moves with her five children to England, and shows an unfailing resilience and determination to give her children a chance at a good education, a resilience and determination clearly passed on to Zarina.

A fitting and compelling tribute to her mother, Zarina captures also the soul of her siblings, children and husband, telling the story of the South African struggle in such a personal way it is breathtaking.

As a newly-wed what moved me most was Maharaj’s commitment to her husband and two children. She was the sole breadwinner until 1994, when Mac became minister of transport. All of us so-called modern women could learn a thing or two from a woman who was always 'modern' in attitude and one of the finest mathematicians of our time.

The most heartbreaking part for me was how selflessly and painfully Maharaj compromised her hunger to fill an official ANC post so as not to be seen to be piggy-backing on Mac's freedom fighter status. She would have made a fine minister, I believe.

I was left in awe, and for me this book is right up there with some of the greatest books I've read that spoke directly to my soul.

More reviews available in the Sunday Independent Group of Newspapers, and on the inside and back covers of the book.


Open / download file   Excerpt from Chapter 1
A sample from the book - Excerpt from Chapter 1. Download or read online, in PDF format.
394_excerpt from chapter 1.pdf  (256 KB)