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KAZI IKUSASA LISIPHATHELENI (article first published : 2004-01-17)

Published by Gekko Books, Kazi Ikusasa Lisiphatheleni is a well-written Zulu novel by Gladman Ngubo. It brings out the beauty of the culture of ubuntu as well as the pain and suffering that can be brought about by individual greed and power abuse.

The characters are clear and believable and Gladman Ngubo creates scenes that are vivid to the imagination through his rural-based characters. Ubuntu is the core of this community and the elders believe that education and hard work provide the way to success. The central character Sandile is one of the favourable young men in the community. With a love for school and church, he is a respectful youngster with an ambition to become a doctor.

I enjoyed Gladman’s depiction of Sandile’s evil, greedy, lazy and pompous uncle, Magadla who destroys Sandile’s life by not paying his school fees and eventually drives him away from his home.

Magadla misguidedly thinks he is bringing up his son Nkosiphi to be a “real man” but the effect is to the contrary. Nkosiphi ends up with no education, smokes dagga, and resorts to mugging, eventually serving a long-term sentence for attempted murder. Driven by greed and the urge to show-off, Magadla tries to manipulate those around him but in the end he becomes alcoholic and psychotic and dies a gruesome death.

Gladman Ngubo shows that humans are the same, be they in rural or urban areas. He focuses on the important role played by women who care for their families’ physiological needs and instil values and discipline. Another strong message he sends out is that strong religious beliefs lead to stability and success.

Powerful emotions run through the novel such as the parting of Sizwe and Sandile and there is a vivid and beautiful description of the day the Mdunge family meet with the fatal accident. ”It was a fine day with not even a single cloud in the sky”………..

The press release states that the book is for adults and is suitable for high school pupils. I feel this should have been the other way around – as it has strong educational lessons and good life advice. It would make an excellent set-book for high school pupils. However, it is a bit overpriced. If it were to be used in schools it would surely be among the most expensive Zulu novels at R85. I believe a novel is a story and there were just a few times where the writer dwells on giving parenting advice thus repeating exactly what the story is about.

The attractive cover features a painting by Durban artist Nkosinathi Jali and the print quality, binding and layout are of a good standard. I could not find a single spelling mistake; rare for a Zulu book! The idioms used are beautiful and well used through the novel.

The book is a quality novel with a very good story-line and it is obvious that the writer has personal experiences of rural and urban life. The moral of the story is - if you want something you have to work hard and take the knocks and hurdles, focusing on achieving your goals.

As the title suggests: “you never know what tomorrow holds”. - Dumisani Tshabalala




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