The manuscript of Legacy of the Rain Queen-The Eagles Martial won the third prize in the 2019 Dinaane debut fiction award. It is the first of a three-book series.
The Eagles Martial, as a subtitle, is symbolic in a narration where an eagle is a totem and features prominently as an integral part of the story.
The novel relates to the encounter between a lecturer, Nolwazi Rahlaga and corporate lawyer and divorcee, Mohale Motlalepula. They meet in a post-democratic South Africa. Their love is special. A reincarnation of a union that played out in the 17th century between a warrior and a descendant of a rain queen.
The novel is reflective, entertaining, educational, political and spiritual. It serves us the history of Southern Africa from the perspective of the hunted. It is a long-overdue tribute to the Balobedi tribe. More importantly, it is a narration that affirms the new generation in African spirituality.
Karabo skillfully and seamlessly puts fictional characters in real historical settings. The characters take us on a magical tour of Modjadjiskloof, Letaba, Magoebaskloof, Blyde river canyon, Hazyview, Hoedspruit Bushbuckridge and all the way to Zimbabwe.
The reader gets to experience the richness of the culture and heritage of the Balobedu people, in song, food, medicine, education, skills transfer, sexual fluidity, and marriage. The Balobedu and baVenda are the descendants of Bokalanga kingdom. Dialogues in Khelobedu are not in italics or brackets but are used as part of the main text, untranslated.
It is liberating and authentic how English is not made superior to the indigenous language. There is a full poem titled ‘Serekedi wee.
” On page 53 Mohale reflects that Democracy is a foreign system, not native to our culture. Our people are wired to our monarchic way of doing things. It worked for us in aeons. Democracy is not natural. Naturally, if you force a system of government on a people who aren’t ready for it, things tend to fall apart.”
We meet a kaleidoscope of characters. Millisuthando, Nolizwe’s friend a highly networked and astute restauranteur. Abe is a Malawian married to a South African. MaSithole is from Zimbabwe and practised and grooms initiate in Diepsloot. There is Mohale’s annoying, philandering, and corrupt businessman, Paul. There are two Duncans in the book.
I have often witnessed misplaced scoff regarding the fact that many youngsters are becoming sangomas as if it is fashion. Such youngsters are actually to be commended. They are going back to our roots, to us, and embracing African spirituality. They are our ‘rainmakers. They must take their rightful place, for they are the ones who will be entrusted with the knowledge by the spirit.
An important body of work on life in pre-colonial Africa. It speaks against the narrative that Southern Africa and its inhabitants were ‘discovered in 1652. A prerequisite for political context in present Africa for purposes of mapping the future. The likes of Ntate Credo Mutwa would be super proud of the highly nuanced, well researched and layered offering, by a spiritual initiate and author Karabo Finger.
This is a book worthy to be part of the university curriculum.