Thando Mgqolozana: A Man Who is Not a Man

Fiction Local Podcast Write Up

“This is the story of how I came to have an abnormal penis. So there you have it: my genital organ is not the normal type.” And so begins Thando Mgqolozana’s brave and poignant ‘A man who is not a man’.

Every year during the winter season, we are inundated with reports of the deaths of young men who succumb to cold, dehydration and sepsis in their quest to attain manhood. But what of the young men who don’t die? Who are left to function, disfigured and changed in unimaginable ways by the horrors of botched circumcisions?

‘A man who is not a man’ is a powerful account from one such initiate. Told with such honesty and poignancy, it was impossible for us not sit and unpack the themes of manhood, patriarchy and culture explored in this novel.

The Cheeky Natives aims to be archivists of black literature and so who better to interview than the co-founder of ‘Abantu Book Festival’, a festival for black writers and readers set in Soweto. A festival for the celebration and recording of black stories outside of the white gaze and the performative expectations accompanying this. Thando Mgqolozana has always broken frontiers, confronting the difficult and uncomfortable. Be it in writing or the practice of taking uncomfortable decisions to celebrate and give platforms to black literature unapologetically.

Chinua Achebe says: “until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” How fitting then that on this episode, as literary archivists we have the inimitable Thando Mgqolozana. Award winning author of three novels, ‘ A man who is not a man’, ‘Unimportance’ and ‘Hear me alone’, Mandela Rhodes Scholar, literary decolonist and all round black boy magic. This episode is a celebration of the power of black literature is the project of redefining ourselves.

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