by Bongani Madondo (Picador Africa), ISBN: 978-1-77010-495-2
Sigh The Beloved Country is a beautiful book of narrative essays that illustrates South Africa’s social complexities.
The book kicks off with an adequately titled Black Eish and White Eina chapter. Madondo pokes fun at the concept of whiteness and the ignorance of white racists. He then humorously turns the table on his reader when tells the story about the time he and his friends, on spotting a white person, would make a show of rolling up their car windows and locking the doors. B
y writing about uncomfortable truths and then poking fun, Madonda is forcing people to question their ideas about racism.
The book further exposes underlying social stereotypes, for example, why did Oscar Pistorius think the ‘intruder’ may have been black and not white. As Madonda writes, “I am actually feeling no mad love for my fellow South Africans as a collective right now, I will never ever have issues with individuals.” This is an important consideration especially in light of Paton’s quote from the book that Madondo has crafted his title: “… one day when they[whites] are turned to loving, they will find we[blacks] are turned to hating.”
There’s a certain type of melancholy in Sigh The Beloved Country, but it is also funny and at the same time serious. Madondo’s reflections are important as South Africans find their space in a diverse country and that is why this book is highly recommended.