Page count: 138
Imagery: Full colour and black and white photographs and illustrations
Publication date: February 2021
Born in 1941 in Bizana in the former Transkei, Marjorie Nomasomali Goniwe Nkomo seems to have lived many lives – Before apartheid, During apartheid and After apartheid. In just 138 pages, the author presents her history with the touch of a master storyteller and the universal voice of grandmothers everywhere. From the first line, we are engaged with her back in time at the homestead and the fields and the hearth, where meals are made and stories are brewed, along with the tea.
Divided into three Parts – Before, During, After – the story moves from the innocence of the homestead and tales of growing up among a community of nurturing adults to Nomasomali’s rise to adulthood, marriage, family and the ravages of apartheid. Part 3, ‘After’, is a bittersweet reflection on what has become of our country since South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994. It is a short but powerful section that starts with Vangile Gantsho’s angry voice of feminine disappointment in her poem, ‘I Expect More From You’. This closing section is a lament in which potholes symbolise the fruits of the struggle and the town of Bizana, the land of O. R. Tambo, is a shadow of its former self. One is left in catharsis, wishing for a return to the innocence of a bygone era but knowing it is gone forever. A sad fact that makes stories like this one such treasures.