Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

Thank you programme director.

Good evening ladies and gentleman,

I notice that out of the 4605 facebook friends I have been inviting all week, only 6 managed to come. I guess very few people take me serious or rather most of those facebook friends don’t like books. For those who managed to come, thank you for sacrificing the Lady Gaga show currently underway at FNB Stadium and sacrificing the opening of Skyfall (the new Bond movie).

I am unsure whether the choice of the date and the venue for the launch of this book is pure coincidence or was deliberately planned by the author and Xarra Books.

We are on the 5th day of 16 days of activism against gender violence and child abuse. The launch is taking place at what used to be a women’s prison during apartheid. I encourage those who have not visited Constituion Hill before to return for the tour in this place in order to understand the implicit significance of this place.

Just over 5 years ago, I became a father to a beautiful daughter. Being an introvert that I am, there is very little to go by in a form of social experience particularly relating to women. In an attempt to be a good father to my daughter, I think I should have some clue of women’s experience of life, besides what I know from my mother, my family and the extended family. Hence, I rely, among others, on reading to try to understand what has been the experience of women in a journey of life.

In my reading patterns, I have had to deviate from politics and biographies into fiction, particularly feminine fiction. I am not a literature expert so I don’t know whether calling it that is correct, but you will get the drift as we proceed.

By feminine fiction I do not mean the Wilbur Smith stuff or the 60 Shades of Green. When I was planning the wedding earlier this year, I learned there is a shade of green called jade. I am not sure if it is included in that book. I digress.

The feminine fiction I refer to is African feminine fiction, particularly South African stuff. It is books where you find that the protagonist characters are women. Now is the right time to replace the phrase, “South African feminine fiction” with the word that is correct for it. Certainly Xarra Books will guide us on this.

The last 5 books I have read that are feminine South African fiction are Beauty’s Gift by Sindiwe Magona, Happiness is a Four Letter Word by Cynthia Jele, I Speak to the Silent by Mtutuzeli Nyoka and All in a Galz Life by Gugu Ndima. I am still unsure whether Nyoka’s novel is fiction; pardon me for counting it with fiction if you know better. I have also read non-fiction titled Umama compiled by Marion Keim (a collection of short essays from prominent South Africans about their mothers), which I noticed is for sale here today.

If you have read Beauty’s Gift or Happiness is a Four Letter Word, All in A Galz Life reads like a modernised and better sequel of those books.

Gugu shared the manuscript of her book with me a few weeks ago. She has since ambushed me into previewing All in a Galz Life this evening.

If you are not an academic like I am not, it is difficult to try to preview or review anything, be it a movie or a book. I am tempted to share, in summary, what the book says. But then I want to try to withhold enough such that you will still want to buy and read the book.

As I attempt to preview All in a Galz Life, I need to disclose that I know the author personally. On a scale of close friend to complete stranger, Gugu is somewhere between acquaintance and friend. Now that she is a published author, I will openly admit to being her close friend so I can name drop with authority. Being close friends with her will make it easy for me to buy copies of her book in bulk, get her to autograph them and then give them out to family and friends as Christmas gifts.

I got to know her through her work as a Spokesperson of the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA). I have read a lot of articles she has written and know that she is a brilliant writer, though I don’t always agree with her ideas.

I was pleased, though, to learn that her book has nothing to do with politics. It is refreshing to read something from her outside the realm of politics. Her writing talent is too good to be reserved for politicians only.

I understand writing a book must be difficult, especially if it will be your first book to be published. It probably requires lots of inspiration, good time management, rigid discipline to adhere to the commitment to finish it and persistence to find a publisher willing to publish it. I am certain that I speak for all her friends, family and comrades when I say we are proud of her.

I hope this is the first of her many books she is going to write in future.

One of the things that stand out about All in a Galz Life is that it is particularly short. It has seven short chapters. As you read it, you would realize it is short because you would keep wishing it would go on. Maybe that I am used to reading long boring documents contributes to my perspective of the book’s length.

With the emerging twitter generation who read no more than 140 characters per tweet, it might be a good thing that the book is not very long.

All in a Galz Life is a book about 5 young women who are friends. They are a blend of varying characters from different backgrounds that are a circle of friends who support each other in a journey of life.

Some of them fall in and out of love with some of the characters that men would easily relate to. A man who reads the book will get insight of what some women think of their characters. It would be like over hearing a gossip about you.

If I was a character in the book, I would have loved to date Mandisa. As I read the book, it felt a bit like cheating because of how I fell in love with her. Chapter One in the book gives a brief description of who Mandisa is, along with the other four main characters. Let me stop talking about her before I get carried away.

In the book, Gugu exposes how some of the cultural stereotypes impact certain decisions in our lives. She does this so brilliantly that it does not amount to disrespecting or belittling any of the cultural backgrounds of her characters.

All in a Galz Life is a story of survival, with some of the women having been to hell and back. It demonstrates how the past you want to forget may come back to haunt you no matter how long it takes, yet present that horrible past as not insurmountable.

It tells you that as you inherit or achieve a particular social standing in society and insulate yourself from the rest, you could be missing out on the pleasures you didn’t know you desired. It tells this reality through a character who has to shed off her prejudice about a man she dates.

If you have experienced true love, you will relate to the story the book tells.

If you have been cheated and hurt, you will relate to the story.

If you think men are dogs who don’t deserve the love they get from some of the sisters, you will relate to the story.

If you know that there is one person that you love the most but cannot be with due to circumstances outside your control, you will relate to the story.

If you have had to deal with the fear of being rejected by your partner’s family, you will relate to the story.

If you have true friends who never judge you, yet they are honest and frank to you, you will relate to the story.

The five friends are women of faith, who stand together through difficult times. They share the joy and the agony.

All in a Galz Life mostly tells a story of all that happens in a girl’s life.

Thank you.

NB: The book is available for R200-00 at all good book stores.

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