Sindiwe Magona's 'When the Village Sleeps' is an ode to the complex strengths of SA women

23 April 2021 - 09:27
Sindiwe Magona's 'When the Village Sleeps' is a visionary novel about what the loss of identity and dignity do to a people afflicted by decades of brokenness.
Sindiwe Magona's 'When the Village Sleeps' is a visionary novel about what the loss of identity and dignity do to a people afflicted by decades of brokenness.
Image: Bjorn Rudner

“Timely and truthful, this novel is vintage Sindiwe Magona, one of our wisest voices. Few capture the contemporary black SA female experience with such power and resonance. The voices of her protagonists linger in one’s mind long after the reading of this book.” — Elinor Sisulu

When the Village Sleeps is a visionary novel about what the loss of identity and dignity do to a people afflicted by decades of brokenness. Told through the lives and spirits of four generations of amaTolo women, including The Old, who speak wisdom with ever-increasing urgency, it moves between the bustling township setting of Kwanele and the different rhythms of rural village life.

It recalls the sweeping sagas of the great A.C. Jordan and the Dhlomo brothers and invokes the poetry of S.E.K. Mqhayi, while boldly exploring urgent and contemporary issues.

An ode to the complex strengths of SA women, When the Village Sleeps is also a powerful call to respect the earth that nurtures human life, and to live in self-sufficiency and harmony with the environment and each other.

“All the way to school, and all day long, the same thought kept turning and turning in Busi’s mind. 

“He will not forget my birthday. It is also his. No way could he forget his own birthday. Surely he remembers he shares it with me, his beloved daughter. We spoke about it during our weekly 'visits', as he calls our scheduled Sunday afternoon telephone talks. And today is not any old ordinary birthday, either. THIRTEEN! I am a teenager at last. Certified, verified, glorified. Should I call him? No, it is a special day for me: he must call first! Thina sobabini? We two? We jive!

“Except, that whol long day, no call came from her father.”

Dr Sindiwe Magona is an author, storyteller, motivational speaker, poet, playwright and actor. She has received numerous literary awards as well as awards in recognition of her work around women’s issues, the plight of children, and the fight against apartheid and racism. Dr Magona recently received the Ellen Kuzwayo Award as well as her third honorary doctorate, from the Nelson Mandela University.


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