Personal tools
You are here: Home Books Bhlawa’s Inconsolable Spirits

Bhlawa’s Inconsolable Spirits

by Mxolisi Nyezwa

Bhlawa’s Inconsolable Spirits is startling, often humorous, always graphic. Determined to understand everything, the young Nyezwa turns to writing to “train himself to see”.  In Nyezwa’s vision no boundaries exist between imagination, day-to-day survival, spiritual reality, and economic violence: “What everyone saw up there at night in Bhlawa, and called the moon, was just the hungry face of God.”

Excerpt from the book:

"From quite an early age I could never forgive the earth for planting a fidgety tree of imagination and questions inside my head. My first despair came with the sad realization that nothing grew in our home back garden. The weary maize plants that my father planted petered out swiftly without yield.

Before I could even complete kindergarten, the chessboard of all the rooks, pawns, bishops, knights, kings and queens that would eventually impact my life was introduced to me. What happens to you later in life is merely a reminder or replay of what you went through or experienced, which was shown to you earlier by the birds. You were alive in your infancy. The world doesn’t tell you that. But the birds know. All planets wake up each morning like the red sun from a galaxy of weary stars and journey to us. Our adult lives are terrible dreams. At Kama Lower Primary school where my parents first sent me to learn about the things of the world, I met everyone who I was going to meet in my
life, saw everything else that was going to happen to me.

I am now convinced that the little that I remember, which isn’t even a quarter of my childhood, is the significant portion of a life that I must always remember. The blurred snapshots my memory has erased, or kept so far back that I can no longer retrieve them, will perhaps become significant in another life that I will live somewhere far away, in another world.

My parents told me that when they first arrived in Bhlawa there were no street lights or water in the taps. Uko, the crying spirit, roamed the streets during the freezing nights. Township people followed the dusty streets right to where they disappeared on the horizon. They called the end of their world eMpelazwe. Beyond that invisible demarcation line of apartheid lay the white man’s vast empire, the big city of Port Elizabeth, with its defiant statue of an English woman, Queen Victoria, overlooking the dizzy waters of the sleeping bay. From another angle she is turning her back against the Main Library building that stands packed with jobless black students and workers reading the Evening Post, always on the look out for jobs in the bone-dry economy of the city.

Bhlawa people were poor. The streets were a thousand prisons that were laughing at our poverty. The cramped buildings that lined these opaque streets were orange or green in colour like hospitals. Melancholy surrounded the churches. Old women carried their poor men’s overalls with exaggerated fury. In the 80’s the township was a sanctuary for the comrades who crept in under the dark blanket of night to prepare the way for an insurrection against the illegitimate white government. The National Party government put into law midnight curfews, the state
of emergency and other diabolical laws that restricted the movement of the poor residents. South Africa was being led off to its place of execution by a small group of frightened white men. I felt confident that gradually sanity would set in, and over time South Africa’s history would
be washed clean of arsenal blood. I had seen enough of the brutality of life. All of us continued the dazzling dream of an impostor, pretending that history or fate would atone for our crimes. The government repaid by killing more freedom fighters.

I emerged from our dark and unpainted bedrooms in Madala Street at night and entered our living room with its one centre-light in the ceiling doggedly brightening up the space. On the walls the photos of our dear departed family ancestors were seen more clearly, and the paths and reasons for the lives we lived were openly revealed and became understood. I was slowly seeing with innocent eyes that in the bigger scheme of things in Bhlawa I was smaller and less significant than a dead flower. Inside the body of the human the spirit of the angel child is blindfolded by unfolding events. Angels are only totally happy outside in the atmosphere like the birds, in a free life away from the
tiring wanderings and conversations of humans. That is when the star angels inside us regain their heavenly powers to foretell the future and live eternally without fears of the sounds of the oceans or drowning."

ISBN 9781928476481 | 162 pages | 198 x 129mm | 2023 | Deep South, South Africa | Paperback


eBook ISBN: 9781928476498



Document Actions