An unbelievable, heart-wrenching true story. This is how I can describe McIntosh Polela’s memoir.
My Father My Monster covers ministerial spokesperson McIntosh Polela’s life up to his mid-thirties.
It all went downhill from 1982. At age five, without prior notification, McIntosh and his sister Zinhle are sent to live with extended family in Pevensey village in KwaZulu Natal. Both their biological parents “vanish” from their lives, only for the one parent to reappear 26 years later.
The story demonstrates in a horrendous fashion how violence begets violence. How it is mostly defenceless women and children who are on the receiving end.
Parents can make or break their children. McIntosh’s dad was a consistent and unrepentant breaker, physically and emotionally, and inflicting pain at his family was his sport. A monster with a capital M who should have been languishing in jail.
Also, this is a story of love, resilience and perseverance. The McNamaras, sister Von Ohr, Mrs Wood, father Madela, teacher Khathi were good Samaritans, earth angels whose assistance, selflessness and interventions were pivotal in McIntosh’s metamorphosis into a radio and TV personality. McIntosh’s stepmother, his dad’s first wife was ubuntu personified.
Having finally read the book, I can now attest to why the book lingered on my mind for more than a decade. Without sounding masochistic, what does not kill us definitely make us stronger.