A rondavel in rural Mahlubini seemed an unlikely venue for first time author Aviwe Gudula, to read from her book, ‘Journey of her Scars to Womanhood’. Yet the intimate setting yielded a unique experience for the youth at Mahlubini Community Reading Club, in the town of Cofimvaba, in the Eastern Cape. In the final days of Women’s Month, Nal’ibali literacy mentor, Asiphe Mkumbuzi, invited local woman author, Aviwe Gudula to read a chapter from her book, and to inspire young readers (not just girls) to reach their full potential.
Every month, Nal’ibali, a reading for enjoyment campaign, sets a unique challenge to Nal'ibali reading clubs to invite a special person to their club or to take part in a special activity, so as to spark creativity and enjoy a new experience in the literacy world. This month, in celebration of Women’s Month, Nal’ibali reading clubs were challenged to acknowledge and celebrate local women authors, especially those who write in their mother tongue. Although women’s issues are on the South African agenda, very little has changed in the lives of women with regards to their health, education and safety (domestic violence remains a key social ill for many South African women). Too many of our women simply do not have the voice to talk openly about their lives and the challenges they face, the opportunity to network with other women in similar circumstances, or access to basic care facilities. The death of local women authors, especially those who write in indigenous South African languages, is testament to that. However, there are many young South African women and girls who have the potential to become writers, to untangle the day to day realities of South African women and reweave them into stories as bright or as dark as the author chooses.
Aviwe Gudula, a lecturer at Eastern Cape College and a young girl’s coach, says that she was driven to write her novel after a recent spate of femicide in the media. “I saw a trend of men abusing and killing us as women,” says Gudula. She says even though she always wanted to write this book, it took her months to write and publish it. Her book, ‘Journey of her Scars to Womanhood’, tells the story of a young woman, Yolanda, who was conceived through rape and who’s existence is begrudged by her mother because of what happened to her as a young woman. The story covers systematic child abuse, the heartache, and the cycle of rape and rejection that Yolanda experienced throughout her life until she reached adulthood and could change her narrative.
Gudula says that it was difficult to find a part of the book to read to the children, but that she read from the chapter that retells Yolanda’s life as a child. She then spoke to the children about her recipe of life which includes a Love of God, love and respect for parents, and education as the main ingredients. Literacy mentor, Asiphe Mkumbuzi, says that the information the children received was invaluable. “They were so inspired,” she says.
Gudula says she was lucky to grow up in a balanced home. “My mother was a domestic worker and my father worked with scrap metal, so we grew up with lots of love but no material things.” Gudula is a self-published author and has been amazed at the support and interest in her book. She is currently writing her next book, which will fictionalise the day to day life of people living around her.
If you or someone you know has suffered from the violation and injustice of rape please reach out to Rape Crisis on 021 447 9762, the TEARS Foundation on *134*7355#, LifeLine on 0861 322 322, Stop Gender Violence on 0800 150 150 or Childline South Africa on 08000 55 555.
For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit www.nalibali.org. Network with likeminded people in the chatroom of the FUNda Sonke loyalty programme at www.nalibali.mobi. You can also find Nal’ibali on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.