Final-year Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting student, Mr Sifundokuhle Kweyama’s novel Ubumnyama Bemisebe Yelanga (the darkness of the sun’s rays) aims to warn communities, especially women, about the practice of ukuthwala for riches.
The Zulu fiction novel, which was edited by UKZN’s Microcobiology PhD student, Mr Sphelele Jeza, takes place in the rural area of eMzumbe, KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, which is Kweyama’s birth place. The story also takes place at a university setting and at a student residence. It explores the dangers and disadvantages of the practice of ukuthwala (mostly human sacrifice) for riches. This often brutal practice involves a person consulting a witch doctor who will make them rich but for a hefty price which often requires human organs or life.
Kweyama, who spent much time conducting research into this area by consulting traditional healers to get better informed about the said practice, said he was inspired to write this book because of the many media reports of people being arrested for possessing human body parts, especially female genital mutilation. The rife attacks of people with albinism for their body parts used in witchcraft was another reason for the book.
‘These things are happening and are more prevalent now because people nowadays really like the notion of making easy money. The book has been launched in Port Shepstone, Clemornt and Westville. The dialogue and engagement that have come from the community has been interesting as people confirm that they know of people who have accumulated wealth in this evil manner. The most interesting discussions has been with traditional healers who feel that such practices are tarnishing their reputation and the biggest worry is that women are the ones most targeted,’ said Kweyama.
This is not Kweyama’s first self-published work as he has two poetry books entitled Silence is no longer Golden, a combination of poems which advocate for women to not suffer in silence about issues of gender-based violence and domestic abuse. Flowers of Africa, a volume of poems based on his life experiences as a young South African, is also one of Kweyama’s first self-published works.
‘I am very passionate about protecting women because they play a big role in our lives and yet they deal with the worse abuse from their partners such as rape and even femicide. I also want students to be aware about the environment they are living in and that not everything is about wealth. Through my work, I also hope to inspire young people to go back to telling stories of indigenous and traditional origin to keep the African legacy going,’ he said.
Kweyama is encouraging those who wish to express their views about this novel or wish to know about it to contact him on 071 101 2433 or email Sifundoh.firstname.lastname@example.org
Words and photograph: Thandiwe Jumo