Author: Kagiso Madibana
Historically, African stories and knowledge were inticit, libraries as elders, shared verbally between mouths and ears. When elders passed, libraries of stories left with them, slowly killing our culture. Taking a stance of rectifying this err, African writers have taken a course to tell their own stories on any platforms accessible, including story telling.
However, certain stories are muffled based on a cultural practice. There is a constant notion that problems in the homestead cannot be taken to the public eye, which leads to behaving as if certain issues found in our society were non-existent or a problem caused by Western influence.
This is however, unapologetically countered in Kagiso Madibana’s well-crafted novel. The book illustrates a tale of a young boy, Baareng, mistreated by life through death of his loved ones, introducing him to a childhood of abuse from his step mother along with basic human rights stolen from him. While he could have worn a cloak of his childhood experiences to life a purposeless life, but the bits and pieces of love scattered in between his life availed him an opportunity to change the direction of his own life, further changing the lives of others.
Written in simplistic diction, Baareng’s journey dismantles all ideas that stories must be told through verbose illustrations to bring it to life. Kagiso’s straight-to-the-point story telling counters not only makes the book an easy read, but further allows all age groups to develop immediate emotions on the reality of child abuse, the importance of education and seizing any opportunity availed ti you.
I must admit, my only wish is that there was more expansion to detail on various characters towards the book’s close. The conclusion felt abrupt, contrary to the intricate detailing of Baareng’s childhood. One can argue that it was intentional as there is room for more stories to be told, perhaps this time around Baareng’s little brother Pule, who faced a different facet of trials.
In a nutshell, the book doesn’t only serve as a good read, but serves as a confrontation to our own society, if we are raising our children in love, or fear, and if we really are practicing the spirit of botho we tend to pride ourselves in. It serves as a lesson, just as folk-tale, to remind ourselves of the results of love and fear, being human and being vile, challenging adversities against focusing on being troubled.