Book Presentation: ‘On est foutu’
by Matthews Mngadi
As part of the Francophonie celebrations
31 March, Johannesburg | 1 April, Pretoria
Free | Bookings
Recently South African author Matthews Mngadi took part in the 18th Time of The Writer Festival to talk about literature. He will be visiting Johannesburg and Pretoria to talk more specifically about his book "On est foutu". Set in 1980s Apartheid-era, the story relates the challenging journey of a South African Zulu family who has to move to Durban to survive.
His book written in Zulu was translated in French by French linguist Michel Lafon and his team. It is one of the first books to be translated directly from Zulu to French.
Learn more about the novel and the process of translating with Matthews Mngadi and Michel Lafon.
31 March at 19h30
Alliance française of Johannesburg, 17 Lower Park Drive, Corner Kerry Road, Parkview
1 April at 18h30
Alliance française of Pretoria, 99 Rivier Street, Sunnyside
Asikho ndawo bakithi, we are no where, by M.J. Mngadi
Life under stress. The consequences of the dire lack of accomodation
During apartheid, like so many others, the Dubazana - husband, wife, 2 children - set foot in Durban where Dubazana has found employment. They settle in Mlazi, Durban’s main township. However they cannot find a house and have to sublet.
The book opens when they are removed from a room, the landlady accusing Mrs Dubazana of seducing her husband. From then on, they go from bad to worse. In a shebeen where they rent one visitor makes an attempt on Dubazana’s daughter. They have to go again. They come to a gangster’s house who sends his thugs to steal Dubazana ‘s money after pay-day and rape his wife. Afraid that worse is yet to come, they run for their life. Next step down takes them to a squatter camp marred by violence. The children are abducted. Dubazana’s daughter is raped, and, as we learn later, infected with HIV and impregnated.
After such harrowing times, some reprieve when they meet the Thabekhulu, a well-to-do family who takes pity on them and offers accomodation in their decent house. This is not to last. As Dubazana, scared that his wife is infected, stays away from her, she seeks confort with the landlord. Both organize for Dubazana to get arrested on trumped up charges. Suspicious Mrs Thabekhulu leaves and moves back to her sister’s over-crowded matchbox. Her two children also fell prey to the circumstances. Thabekhulu and Dubazana’s wife try to amend through charity work. Dubazana’s daughter gives birth and campaigns for the acceptance of AIDS sufferers. Dubazana’s wife has found decent employment. But a dark cloud hangs over them. Upon Dubazana’s unexpected return, out of guilt his wife helps her lover to kill him. Dubazana’s son who overheard the fight escapes. He joins the youth roaming the streets, eventually becoming their inflamed leader. In the last scene, the wild youth seize Thabekhulu and burn him alive. Dubazana’s wife is the only one who can, seemingly, look to a brighter future.