Book Review – Hamba Sugar Daddy

by Nape ’a Motana (Jacana) ISBN: 9781431424221

I was looking forward to reading this novel by the author of Fanie Fourie’s Labola. But I didn’t love it. The author tackles an important subject in contemporary South African society, the issue of ‘sugar Daddies’, better known as “blessers”: rich, older men who provide expensive gifts and favours in return for sex with much younger women or teenagers.

Motana has created some interesting and fun characters, but most of them come across as shallow stereotypes. There’s lots of dialogue and it is played for comedy, but somehow lacks the depth that would make it really hit home. It felt to me as though this story started life as a play, but that the transition to a novel was problematical.

The lead character, Rolivhuwa Ramabulana, becomes a blessee when she sees one of her friends reaping the so-called benefits of having a Sugar Daddy. Before long, she’s locked into an unhappy, abusive relationship, which even her own mother wants to keep going, with disastrous consequences. How she overcomes these problems, and becomes a heroine in her community, leading an anti-blesser protest and becoming a motivational actress and speaker forms the rest of this cautionary tale.

It felt more textbook than novel, and lacked emotional depth – but it pulls into focus a serious social problem that definitely needs a few more strong young women like Rolivhuwa.

Judy Ward

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Posted on: 6th April 2017