Book Review – Nwelezelanga: The Star Child

by Unathi Magubeni (Jacana) ISBN: 9781928337249

Nwelezelanga The Star Child is such an interesting book. Nwelezelanga is born an albino and rejected by her birth-mother. Convinced by the midwife to kill her, Nwelezelanga mother places her in a river to drown. However fate has other plans for Nwelezelanga and she is rescued and raised by Nomkhubulwana a traditional healer.

Nwelezelanga is an old soul with mystic abilities and her story unfolds as she lives a rural life, connected to the earth and ancient rituals. It is a fascinating view of a life very few of us are exposed to, and the writing is magical and filled with poetry. Do not be deceived by the size of this book. It is only 128 pages, but what powerful pages they are.

This is a wonderful story about the human condition, and I found it best to read in small doses and allow myself to fully absorb the lessons contained in the beautiful prose. If you are looking for an alternative read, consider this book. 

Merissa Himraj

Nwelezelanga: The Star Child begins with the birth of a girl in a village. She is an albino. The midwife tells her mother to ‘get rid of this thing! It is a bad omen.’ She finally convinces the mother that they will go to the Umfolozi river and drown the baby. A middle aged woman who is a sangoma finds the baby and saves her.

The author is a sangoma, trainee herbalist and poet. This is his first novel. His writing has a distinctly poetic quality that facilitates the telling of the story, which is about philosophy of the ancestral spirits. The sangoma has a specific calling which must be obeyed. It includes connection to the spiritual realm, and ability to see other dimensions. They are able to assist people by reading their psyche to see which remedy they will prescribe.

The book is fascinating, moving and offers an understanding of this philosophy and belief system which seems to correlate with other ancient philosophies.
Dawn Blankfield

Posted on: 5th June 2016