The Golddiggers book launch ruffle some feathers

At The Golddiggers book launch- Sue Nyathi conversing with literary critic Karabo Kgoleng. Image Jacob MAWELA.

That’s a  character answering to the identity, Lindani countered to another, going by the name, Margret – a busybody as far as her disdain was concerned, and one who was better off getting on with the purpose of tending to females’ tresses, than to be discouraging her customers as to the choice of suitors they might cast their amorous hook toward.

Elsewhere the following slight sentence variations serve as pontificating preceding incidents of sexual assault upon victims who find themselves in rather vulnerable and compromising situations: “who do you think he will believe?” or “who do you think she would believe?”

The owners of those utterances are opportunists who had incidentally found themselves in the presence of women and deviously decided there and then that there was pound in flesh to pay their urges.

Those scenarios play out in investment analyst by day and storyteller by night Sue Nyathi’s novel, The Golddiggers. 

It is a midweek, early Winter evening at a packed, mellow ambience Exclusive Books store in Rosebank and as appear to be the wont at such occasions, the three pillars of dining render the tables of an in-store coffee shop invitingly laden!  All around glimpses of snuggly dressed ladies -accessorizing clear glasses of white, golden and red hued wine move around bookshelves, dining tables and an impressive count of seats assembled around an elevated platform bedecked with gold banners.

The platform supports the weight of two ladies holding microphones in their hands and deep in banter which range from animated to junctures of deadpan.

One is bespectacled and wears dreadlocks whilst the other, whose demeanour betrays a status of being hosted, also spots dreadlocks whilst clad in power dressing fabric!

The lady who appears to being hosted, Nyathi, put it to her facilitator, familiar literary critic, Karabo Kgoleng: “I’ve always been a writer!”  Their good-natured exchanges are in flow at the launch of the Bulawayo-born writer’s second novel.

The Golddiggers follow on the author’s first offering – 2012’s The Polygamist. Also the screenwriter of the award-winning series, Matatiele – Nyathi pointed out that since she can’t earn a living from writing – she did it to escape the reality of financial markets and economic shop talk.

Earlier on ahead of her engagement with Kgoleng, Nyathi had been kept busy by some members of the audience who beat enthusiastic paths to her location at one of the coffee shop’s tables, with copies of both books spotted under arms and in hands – for signings and selfies with her.

Gobsmacked fans they clearly appeared.  Economics propelled by fiction – a brand of wand for imaginations which per-adventure seek episodes of escapism from concrete jungle’s stark realities!

Written in gold, the back of the paperback declares: we all know our final destination but we have no idea what will cross our path as we journey there.

The Johannesburg resident spoke of different waves of migration. The Golddiggers, she asserted, is the figment of her imagination – even though eerily, the circumstances and very biographies-in-motion of her characters resonate with those of contemporary lives.

It’s 2008 and the height of Zimbabwe’s economic demise. A group of passengers is huddled in a Toyota Quantum about to embark on a treacherous expedition to the City of Gold. Amongst them is Gugulethu, who is hoping to be reconciled with her mother; Dumisani, an ambitious young man who believes he will strike it rich, Chamunorwa and Chenai, twins running from their troubled past; and Portia and Nkosi, a mother and son desperate to be reunited with a husband and father they see once a year.

They have paid a high price for the dangerous passage to what they believe is a better life; an escape from the vicious vagaries of their present life in Bulawayo. In their minds, the streets of Johannesburg are paved with gold but they will have to dig deep to get close to any gold, dirtying themselves in the process.

Told with brave honesty and bold description, the stories of the individual immigrants are simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming.

Nyathi’s character developments are stooped in familiar reality.  Hypocrites, who masquerade as friends such as Givemore, breathe the same air as Melusi, the Toyota Quantum driver who just want to survive through a Zimbabwean economic meltdown.  Tales of misplaced trust abound.

For the twin Chenai, Life’s unfairness seems to mete her domino effect of blows.  She is abused by men she was meant to look up to.  After the abomination visited upon her by her very own flesh and blood [in the form of her father] another misfortune follows her – once presumably safe across the Beit Bridge border.

Her employer’s husband Danie van Tonder, decides to yield in to opportunistic libido and help himself to her, upon catching her in a compromising conduct inside the madam’s bedroom.

Sex courses between the chapters.  From border bandits who appropriate unto themselves a young woman hoping to cross over into the ‘Canaan’ South Africa represented to, to a lusty nurse at a hospital whose wiliness derails the principles of a male with looks which seemingly render females to gnaw the backs of their hands – the carnal act stains the pages of the novel in laissez faire dollops!

The Golddiggers harks back to the Apartheid-era, rural-to-urban to-and-fro migration labour existence foisted upon Africans – only, now in Nyathi’s flight of imagination, foisted onto a citizenry by the foibles of Robert Mugabe’s misgovernance!

Nyathi’s son’s hammer, stirrup and anvil – is all the wealthier in his development as an individual, for the storytelling she lulls him to sleep through.

Nyathi’s must be a master pen since her initial effort, The Polygamist is being turned into a film due out sometime in 2019.

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