978-1-928337-24-9 | R220 | Available at all good bookstores nationwide
Nwelezelanga, The Star Child travels a magical and spiritual journey that merges the ancestral realms with contemporary realities. It is a story of an ancestral spirit that is born through Nwelezelanga, who is tasked with the purpose to pass messages from beyond; a divine responsibility to children of the star.
The birth of Nwelezelanga was foreseen by the wise ones of the tribes and hidden in folktales and abstract proverbs. However, forces of black magic and the underworld had clandestine intentions to interfere with her divine destiny and will undignified death upon her birth.
‘Absolute-truth’ reveals that there is birth within death.The story explores how forces of the upper- and underworld, light and darkness, the known and the unknown unravel to determine her destiny.
‘Magubeni handles the sacred subject in a way that neither slants nor meddles. For this reason, when African traditionalists learn of Magubeni’s book they will be nervously curious but will discover that they needn’t have been. It will be a rare gift for the scholars, and we ordinary readers will not remember our lives before Magubeni happened.’ – Thando Mgqolozana, author of A Man Who is Not a Man, Unimportance and Hear Me Alone
With a rich vocabulary that is poetic and uncluttered, this debut novel is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is both a well-written and philosophical book. The story begins with Nokwakha giving birth at her village home, and when it is discovered that the child is an albino the midwife convinces her that it is a curse and she should snuff the life out of it before it takes another breath. The dreadful deed is done by the river, but the ‘all-knowing one’ has other plans …
With an assured voice and eloquent prose, Magubeni invites us into the life of this extraordinary being, Nwelezelanga, the child who should not have been, contrasting the themes of darkness and light, embracing the unknown and unseen in a way no one else has – or can.
I have many names; my mother calls me ‘Nwelezelanga’ because of my golden hair. Some call me ‘Mhlophe’ because of my fair, almost-ginger skin. One wise old woman of the tribe calls me ‘Mehlomadala’ because of my big round eyes that reflect oceans of untold stories. The village girls who like to taut me just call me ‘that albino girl’.
I’m thirteen years old, however that’s a distortion on its own. I’m young yet old; I’ve experienced the cycle of birth and death many more times than I care to count. I’ve donned and shredded many skin colours in my lifetime. I’ve lived the lives of many; the lives of the poor and the healers of Bantu and served the divine purpose in countless ways. I have also visited this world before as a baobab tree and stood tall for over a hundred years exuding all the wisdom in the known world. I’ve made short visits sometimes as a carefree butterfly showing off the innocence from beyond. One of my favourite incarnations was when I was a bird and would cross the oceans with my own kind, reflecting the endurance of the immortals. On occasion, I have visited this world in less glamorous roles such as in the form of a worker bee and worked all my waking life giving the world the sweet honey of my hard labour.
I spend most of my time suspended in the hills of my humble village. I watch the clouds looking for messages from beyond. I watch them morph into countless symbols speaking the language of the gods. I struggle to decode some of the messages. I have to be patient; there are hidden secrets in the eternal knot of existence. Many think I’m crazy and find my favourite pastime an excuse for being lazy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Unathi Magubeni is an Eastern Cape-based writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist, who left the corporate world in 2009. His first book, a collection of poetry called Food For Thought was published in 2003. Nwelezelanga, The Star Child is his debut novel.