Sue Nyathi: The Gold Diggers

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“Every morning Portia paraded down Pritchard Street to the offices where she worked on the corner of Market Street and Von Brandis Street. Even though her shoes squashed her corns and made her feet swell she bit down the pain and soldiered on. She practiced walking in her heels diligently in her apartment. Many times before she had fallen flat on her face leaving her son reeling with laughter. However, Portia was determined to master the art of walking in high heels like her work colleagues at Hulisani, Hirsch, Hlomani and Associates” – Sue Nyathi

Sue Nyathi was born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and resides in Johannesburg. She is debut novel The Polygamist was self-published in 2012, which will be adapted into a film in 2019.

The year 2008 was an important for both Zimbabwe and South Africa. This year saw Zimbabwe in a crisis, the economic meltdown caused havoc in Zimbabwe. This led to a surge of moves from Zimbabwe to South Africa. The Gold Diggers, Sue’s second novel, explores the effect of the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.

This meltdown introduces us to a group of people huddled in a taxi journeying into the city of Gold: Johannesburg. The book narrates the story of Portia, Dumisani, Chamunorwa, Chenai, Nkosi, a mother and her son and Gugulethu. These characters feel so similar that they become your friends and their lives become yours. This book skillfully tells the lives of this various people in a humane and respectful, it provides a powerful narrative about the effect of migration and starting over.

This episode commences with Sue reading from the book, then immediately we delve into various themes that emerge of the telling of the various people’s story. We talk about tribalism and later xenophobic in South Africa. Sue explains the process of writing the book and how it converged with her own move to South Africa. We discuss privilege and education and how these locations allow people to navigate the precarious Johannesburg. We also talk about the power of language in dehumanizing people and how patriarchy remains harmful.

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