South Africans were taken by a surprise when the legendary and award-winning actor, Dr Jerry Mofokeng suddenly used the double-barrel surname- Mofokeng Wa Makhetha.
Many speculated about the sudden added surname Makhetha, while others thought the award-winning actor was reinventing himself- as artists often do.
Well, worry not as Ntate Jerry has finally decided to take the whole world in his confidence to openly talk about this personal issue in his new memoir in his quest to separate speculations from facts.
In his provocatively titled memoir, I Am A Man, Ntate Jerry recounts events that led him to find his true identity after 58 years of not knowing who his real father was.
Perusing through the pages of this book, I was taken not only back to where it all started for this legendary artist, but I was also exposed to his searing vulnerability to know his true identity through his father’s family- the Makhethas.
Because often our personal stories connect with other people’s lives, I liked how the scribe narrates his story with a very cautious mind to protect those that might be affected or be humiliated in the process of him sharing this important fact of his identity, particularly his mother.
As a reader, I got the sense that there are too many people he could easily blame for hiding such an important part of his life( I know I would). But it is in telling this story that you cannot help, but appreciate the kind of man that is Ntate Jerry: a man who will protect his loved ones no matter the cost.
I Am A Man is a ground-breaking memoir which does not aim to open old wounds, but one that encourages everyone- both men and women to always fight to find their true identity and healing in the process.
The written text will also encourage many men out there, who have abandoned their children to go and look for them.
This is a book that will evoke deep emotions from male readers, as the scribe laid bare some of his failures as a man, father, and husband, which many men will easily relate to.
I think where I disagree with the scribe, and that also in a way speaks to immediate discomfort with the title, is in his assertion that because he does not beat his wife nor sleep around with girls, he does not consider himself to be trash as South African men are known to be.
What he misses is the fact that men being trash is not just about men who commit all those things that he does not do, but the fact that men in South Africa continue to do as little to call those men who commit such acts to stop. So, for as long as there are still men who commit such heinous acts to women and children in our society, and we do not do anything to stop their behavior, we are all trash like them Ntate Jerry.
Besides, this is a brave, honest, and courageous read that will help many to find their true identity and healing.