Sho! It is shocking, it is real, it is painful and it is brutally honest. I guess when one comes from a family with a loving mother and father one can’t really relate to struggles faced by others in their journey towards identity. I am very proud of and equally shocked by how raw and gutsy the book is. Thuli spared no punches in telling her distressing story in her own voice. There are dialogues I read in pain and some with cringe but life has taught me that we are all on a journey and as such we are to tell our stories the best way we know how. The level of depth and revelations in this book is blatant. I thought I was bare in my story telling – hello! Nothing quite like this. I’m left wondering how her family / extended relatives have treated her since the release of the book but then again, ‘family’ according to the experiences in this book is not quite like most of us envision.
In sum, this book is about a young girl growing up in Tsebe, close to my hometown, Phasha in a family where she was made to feel like a misfit. The details are gut wrenching, painful and at times even unbelievable. Most of her life is lived in thought of and search for her biological father. She outlines a timeline from childhood until adulthood, chronicling her complex relationship with her mother and other adults in her life, her relationships with guys, excelling in school, the constant void of a father she can’t pin down because adults in her life were not honest about the truth and finally a glimpse of the woman she’s become despite it all. The search for the truth behind her father’s identity pendulums between hope and despair as clues and subsequent inquiries meet disappointing responses.
I recently learnt that a friend who’s 42, just got to know who his father was a few months before he died and I found myself wondering why there are so many of these stories in our communities. I mean why is it considered ‘unAfrican’ to talk about these matters? It is said secrets are kept to protect children but is it really protecting or harming them in the long run? Gosh man. People, let us tell the truth. It is unfair for children to go through life not knowing who their parents are because one way or another, sooner or later, we tend to look at where we come from to help us form an identity as we chart a way forward. Haai man!