Book Reviews Nelson Makhubane Tshabalala: Smoke of Forgiveness

Nelson Makhubane Tshabalala: Smoke of Forgiveness


Received from the author
The Story: Smoke Of Forgiveness is a novel set against the flow of history from apartheid South Africa to the current day. It attempts to touch on every aspect of moral choice where the nation still stands divided today in its thinking. This is a novel which dares to enter South African history and interrogate the past, which recasts characters and historical events to create a new and vivid reality about the old and new South Africa. It challenges perceived notions of genre and makes us think again about
just what it is that we are as South Africans and Africans at large.

It lays bare the anguish evoked by atrocities committed against rural farm-workers where beatings and rape were used as punishment and callous disregard for human life by institutions, like when a father dies in a mining disaster. It sweeps across so
many excruciating human experiences, love across the ‘colour-line’, raw racism, suicide, double standards, unfaithfulness in relationships, a response to homosexuality, xenophobia, poverty, homelessness and above all, the true historic events that unfolded in South Africa in the past four decades to date.

The author uses imagery of African doctors inventively, as a metaphor for defense pertaining to the repressive resistance during the beatings and other severe abuses of the farm workers by the farm owners. In addition, such action are further highlighted in some parts of the initial chapters in which a character of Mkhulu’s calibre uses the potent African muthi to send the masters and his family into deranged states of mind as a form of revenge for the cruelty meted out to his family.

Further, this book acknowledges the positive role played by several Christian Groups in furthering the education of previously
disadvantaged people, the belief in the role of the ancestors and the need to guard against African Spirituality being watered down by Christianity.

Cognizance should be taken that Smoke Of Forgiveness also speaks to the hope of reconciliation and the ability of perpetrators to see the error of their ways and change. It’s a sincere attempt to set the stage for South Africa emerging from the baggage of
the past, and this book addresses the issues that are envisaged to bring about real change in the future, which include among other things; a Truth and Reconciliation Commission concept that could still do so much more.

This novel further brings the spiritual dimension into the peacemaking process that can create access to the more deep-seated,
affective base of the parties’ behaviour, enabling to examine critically their own attitudes and actions for peace and reconciliation. Smoke Of Forgiveness provides us with a powerful and hopeful vision of how to transform South Africa and the world at large from a cauldron of racism, violence to a vanguard of peace. Smoke Of Forgiveness is at once an educative book for a major intellectual achievement and may be used as a practical guide for peacemakers, for communities, schools, tertiary institutions, etc as well
as a perspective on politics, justice and social change that everyone needs to read about.

Smoke Of Forgiveness encourages a call to awaken an entrepreneurial spirit that will take the economy of South Africa whether
formal and informal to new levels to meet current challenges as well as a call to generosity on the part of those who succeed so they can ‘give back’ to the needy. Lastly, this novel is an inspirational novel with key ideas communicated, at one point, through the device of the main character doing a motivational speaking tour.

Two months and two weeks since this novel was published (April 2012), the Germany Cultural Institute called Goethe Institute had
contacted the author to discuss the inclusion of this novel for the ‘2012 New South African Voices – Beyond The Cities – The Platteland in South African Literature’.

The said Institute has acknowledged the strength of this novel, as one of the powerful stories ever told in an African literary flair
and was selected for this event last year. Thus, continuing in the model of presenting this novel to the world, Goethe Institute hosted the said event under a theme ‘The Platteland in South Africa’ on 23 October 2012 where the Author, Nelson Makhubane Tshabalala engaged with various personalities and presented his perspectives about rural South Africa.

Smoke Of Forgiveness was nominated to compete for the 2012 Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Section (ENMISA) awards in London, England, being another international literary distinguished book award on international politics. In addition, this novel was also nominated to compete for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. Smoke Of Forgiveness was recently selected for inclusion in the longlist for the 2013 Sunday Times Literary Awards under a fiction prize.

Smoke Of Forgiveness is also nominated for the following Literary Awards for this year:

•     International Book Award, US;
•     Mnet Literary Awards, SA (Best Historical Novel, Best Debut Novel & Film Award)
•     (The Film Award is awarded to a novel with definite filmic potential i.e a strong narrative and South African flavor that could be 
      developed into a television script for any Mnet’s varied local channels);
•     South African Literary Awards; and
•     Dayton Literary Peace Prize, US.

The Africa Book Club, being one of the international leading magazine and club chose Nelson Makhubane Tshabalala as the African Author of the Week and Month (September 2012), respectively, primarily on the basis of the strength of his novel, Smoke Of Forgiveness. Smoke Of Forgiveness is available at a retail price of R180.00 and/or less at the following book stores and online:

-     Exclusive Books;  -     www.exclus1ves.co.za;   www.kalahari.comwww.amazon.com; ww2.onthedot.co.za;      www.loot.co.zawww.bookshelf.co.zawww.aimtoinspire.com; etc.

Lastly, below are self-explanatory extracts about the few selected book reviews received from various readers for information only: 
“Dear Nelson,I have read your book through, SMOKE OF FORGIVENESS. Congratulations! It is well written. I get the impression that it is you who got the stories from Mkhulu not Zweli! You are a great story teller. The plot is thick – fiction or non-fiction. Its
suspense is bewitching. It is an educative book all round. It is a book that transforms and decolonizes minds that are so enchained by colonialism that people have forgotten God and are worshipping the demi-gods of Europe. In life, discovering one’s vision and
focussing on it, is the key to success. If we are not prepared to pay the transport fare to our destination, we shall not find a vehicle to take us there. I know from my experience that the worst things that happened to us in life are an airoplane to hurl to the skies. Liberation of the mind is critical. The mind is the engine that drives our lives combined with our spirituality.

A book like this must be read by all the children of Africa whose minds have been poisoned and damaged by colonialism and racism. This book is the medicine for them.
Once again, congratulations Mshengu for a great work of art.” - Dr Motsoko Pheko

* * *

“Dear Nelson,
Firstly, we would like to thank you for your book and wish you tremendous success. I started reading it on the train to Cape Town and could not put it down. I could not wait to finish eating and return to the story.
I did not know how badly farmworkers were treated. One heard stories but I never thought they were treated as stated in your story, you certainly opened my eyes. I loved the fact that "Zweli" could rise above all adversity and achieve what he did. Your story certainly is an inspiration to all races. It is a pity that all of us cannot just treat each other as equals, what a different country we would have. I cannot wait to read your next book...........PLEASE, don't take too long to write another one and when you
do, be sure to put me on the top of your list.  Many thanks once again. 
Regards" – Doreen Heather

* * *

“Bhuti Nelson,
I’ve just finished reading your novel, ‘Smoke Of Forgiveness’! I think you’re the one we’ve been waiting for. I like how it’s written, you’re a true African author. Smoke Of Forgiveness is an eye opener and inspiration to us all.It unleashes the potential within and teaches us perseverance, forgiveness,love and mostly humanity. I can’t wait to read more from you. At first, I thought it be like any other apartheid books that I had read, but it proved to be totally different. Everything is reality”. – Abongile Ndamase

* * *

“I have read the book, and appreciate the inspirational message of a contemporary South African voice. While I was in South Africa recently, Nelson showed me the domestics' quarters where he temporarily lived behind the house where his mother worked when he was a boy. He and his family now live just down the street. Just twenty-five years ago such a reality would have seemed a ridiculous fantasy. Nelson himself is an inspiring individual and has lived through the transition from apartheid to the present. South Africa's transition continues to demand the optimism, forgiveness and faith in humankind regardless of complexion that is conveyed in this book; a lesson valuable to all struggles where understanding seems elusive. Thank you”. - Lisa Cafferty, US.

* * *

“Shooo! What an incredible masterpiece. The book reallyreflected for me all the accounts that took place during apartheid and more importantly, from all the walks of life: religiously, politically, racially and even the level on enlightenment, even ignorance from our fellow brothers. I even "feel" some of the accounts and personally relate to them! (Yes, I am that old"). Besides the remembrance through the historical accounts, the book also through Zweli, as the main character, alerts one to be strong and
persevere in everything for achievements, and the value of reconci-liation, which I argue most of us still lack. I am going to keep this master piece for dear daughter to read especially that such stories about the new and old South Africa are not told as clear as in this master piece!!”. – Sarah Mothapo

* * *

“Hi Nelson
I loved reading your book. AWE-INSPIRING!!!!. Your attitude and aptitude far exceeds the limitations that South African people
place on themselves. You are a True Leader when it comes to farming and bridging the gap of real value in our country. You are an inspiration to me and I cannot wait for your next book.  
Inspired. Darren Kruger”

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