There are books that will leave you entertained, informed, and even educate you. However, it is rare to find a book that provides you with answers that you have been seeking all your adult life. And that is what Dr Sindiwe Magona’s new book, When the Village Sleeps has done for me- it has answered all the questions that I have been looking for.
Let me just start by admitting that my mind is still awestruck by Dr Magona’s magic pen.
In When the Village Sleeps, Dr Magona narrates an inspiring story of the four generations of the Mkhonto women. Each is faced with socio-economic issues of their time but are compelled to find solutions together in order to make their family, community, and the entire human race prosper.
Land, agriculture, religion, ancestral beliefs, drugs, teenage pregnancy, motherhood, disability, and child bullying are some of the themes that are weaved together to connect the challenges faced by Khulu, Phyllis, Busisiwe, and Mandlakazi Mkhonto.
Now, going back to my early assertion of how this book answered the questions that I had all my life. When the Village Sleeps provided me with an answer of how we, as black people living in villages and townships can eradicate poverty in our homes and communities- we need to work the land in order to defeat poverty. Agriculture is the answer to ending our village and township poverty -that small land in our yards can give us the food we need.
It is through Khulu- the matriarchy of the family that Dr Magona shows that we do not need to wait on the government’s hand-outs for our own survival, but we can inculcate a culture of growing food in our small gardens to support ourselves and ultimately our community and country as the Mkhonto women have exemplified.
Also, I liked how Dr Magona in a way, through Khulu once again, demonstrated that we can praise and believe in our ancestors, while we still remain true to our Christian beliefs- and that for me was illuminating.
When the Village Sleeps is inspirational, powerful, poignant, and a rare book that will change the lives of many people and their communities. The chapters are short, and end in nail-biting cliffhangers that drive the narrative nicely along.
The only bummer was how the character of Mandlakazi, who carried most of the narrative abruptly died. The abruptness of her death left with me more questions than answers. From her birth, one suspected that she will eventually die, but I believe the scribe failed to find a suitable way- which fits into the book’s narrative to kill off her character.
Besides that, When the Village Sleeps is an ode that reminds us that we should take care of mother earth for our own good and survival.