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Mother to Mother
a novel, which takes place in 1993 (during Apartheid), in which a black South African
mother dares to explain her son's vio
Mother to Mother
a novel, which takes place in 1993 (during Apartheid), in which a black South African
mother dares to explain her son's vio
Mother to Mother
a novel, which takes place in 1993 (during Apartheid), in which a black South African
mother dares to explain her son's vio
Mother to Mother
a novel, which takes place in 1993 (during Apartheid), in which a black South African
mother dares to explain her son's vio
Mother to Mother
a novel, which takes place in 1993 (during Apartheid), in which a black South African
mother dares to explain her son's vio

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Mother to Mother a novel, which takes place in 1993 (during Apartheid), in which a black South African mother dares to explain her son's violence to the grieving mother of the white girl he murdered Summary: 1. Mandisa's address to the mother of the Girl 2. the last day of the Girl 3. Mrs. Nelson + schoolchildren's boycott + history of Guguletu 4. Mandisa, neighbour (Skonana) + police reputation 5. relocation from Blouvlei to Guguletu + origin of the hatred towards whites 6. police breaks into Mandisa's home 7. 8. she has never had any control over him. →she isn't shocked Mxolisi killed the Girl 9. 10. Mandisa in Gungululu + pregnancy Marriage + in-law problems + China's missing + Mxolisi stops speaking + Lunga and Siziwe are born moment after the police rushed in Tatomkhulu explains the history + Mandisa meets Mxolisi 11. Mandisa's adress the mother of the Girl 12. the day of the crime Chapter 1: ● Mandisa begins with an address to the Mother of the Girl. → She acknowledges her son, Mxolisi, killed the Mother's daughter. → since the murder, her community has been blaming her for her son's actions, but she argues that → Mandisa asks the Mother why the Girl was in Guguletu, where it is unsafe for white people. She believes that the Girl was naïve in her commitment to helping others (Mandisa suspects that if Mxolisi had...

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killed one of the black women who were accompanying the Girl, there would have been no public outcry, no police involvement, and he likely would've walked free.) → Now that Mxolisi is in jail, he has access to amenities he never had as a free man. She wonders, why is Mxolisi "living a better life, if chained?" → Mandisa ends her address with a plea to God. She says she is “a mother, with a mother's heart," and she is overwhelmed with shame, and the hurt of the Mother. She asks God to forgive Mxolisi for his sin. 1 Chapter 2: Mandisa imagines the Girl's last morning alive. . Although it is a school day, Mandisa knows her children will not be going to school. For Mandisa, this is "burdensome knowledge" that "weighs [her] spirit down," but she cannot do anything about it. She acknowledges she doesn't actually expect them to follow her rules, and doesn't even remember them herself come evening, but she feels its her duty as a mother "to have authority over my children." At university, the Girl sits with a group of friends including three black African women from Guguletu. Everyone is upset the Girl is leaving, and she herself doesn't want to say goodbye quite yet, so she offers to take three of her friends home. They appreciate the gesture but worry about a white woman driving into Guguletu in the late afternoon. Mxolisi's group encounters a burning car. They watch it burn and joke about the fate of the driver, who has either fled or been burned alive. → The sound of police sirens scatters the group • They meet up with their other half, which has salvaged metal from a van → returning home ● Still, the Girl insists and gathers her three friends, plus a young man who lives near her in Mowbray, and begins to drive. ● Chapter 3: Mandisa ("Mandy") is working at the home of her employer, Mrs. Nelson Wednesdays are Mrs. Nelsons day off (even though she doesn't really work in the first place) ● Mandisa knows her own life is harder than that of her mlungu woman (white employer). Mandisa is doing "real and exhausting work," and on her day off she "work[s] the hardest and longest of all week." Mrs. Nelson cuts Mandisa's day short (it's unusual → Mandisa knows something is very wrong) Mrs. Nelson does not drive Mandisa home to Guguletu, as no white people are allowed there, but instead drops her off at a nearby bus station. The bus station is chaotic. ● no one knows what happened→ Mandisa assumes it's another youth riot and is upset by this prospect. (She feels children have become "power crazed" and tyrannical) Mandisa makes her way onto a bus, densely crowded → the bus driver yells that Guguletu is "completely surrounded" by police. ● they pass the police station, which everyone treats cautiously, as they don't know "what mood the pigs might be in." Even so, "there is always the possibility of sporting with them." Mxolisi and his group of friends are almost home, but they're distracted by a crowd swarming a small car ● the irony of the name Guguletu= "Our Pride," although residents call it Gugulabo = "Their Pride." Mandisa remembers being dumped in Guguletu with her family as a child. She was raised in Blouvlei, but then, like tens of thousands of others, she was relocated from her former home into this enormous city made up of tiny houses • The government underestimated the number of Africans they were relocating, and thus had not built enough houses. → the government claims that the Natives were the problem 2 ● ● there are still to little schools and teachers in Guguletu Mandisa still misses Blouvlei, which, although made up of shacks, was "no pretense," unlike Guguletu, which pretends to be a "civilized" "housing development" → The difference, in her mind, is that living in Blouvlei was a choice the people in the bus speculate what happened at Guguletu (in Section3, where Mandisa lives) turns out a car, which carried UWC students, was "stoned, overturned, and set alight." → Mandisa is worried about her children (expecially Mxolisi) → prays (feels bad about prefering Mx.) • The bus driver kicks off his passengers earlier than usual (it's their own fault for having troublesome children) ● Mandisa is worried about Siziwe (every day there are rapes in Guguletu) → as she arrives Siziwe is fine Chapter 4: Mandisa arrives at home, and asks Siziwe where Mxolisi and Lunga are now that Mandisa knows her daughter is safe, she is concerned for her boys. again realizes the stronger bond between her and Mxolisi (worries most about him) (doesn't know why) ● Lunga is home, but Mxolisi is still missing. → Mandisa is upset that Siziwe is not more concerned by her brother's absence. (her younger children accuse her of favoring Mxolisi) ● Skonana (Mandisa's neighbour) wants to know why Mandisa is limping → Manidsa lies ● ● Sknonana's cousin Mzonke, who is a policeman, told her that a white woman was killed this morning in Guguletu → Mandisa knows that "Guguletu is a violent place," but violence against a white woman will have dangerous repercussions for the black community. The police "are not our friends," and their involvement will only lead to more trouble and "pull this township apart." • with impunity the police killed other people in the past ● Mandisa wonders aloud what is wrong with people, that they commit violence against their neighbors, and now against a white woman. ● Skonana reveals the crime was committed by "schoolchildren"; she is "gloating" because she is childless and therefore blameless. . Annoyed, Mandisa says goodbye, but curious about what happened, opens her door again and reengages her neighbor in conversation. Skonana tells Mandisa the crime happened on their street, and was committed with a knife. Chapter 5: Mandisa begins to address the Mother again: wondering why the Girl was in Guguletu at all, why anyone would come there. ● Mandisa begins to tell the story of how she ended up in the township 3 ● ● ● A bell sounds, announcing a town meeting and the adults leave their homes to gather and discuss the flyers → they come home frustrated (The meeting was full of endless questions, and very few answers); Representatives are sent to the government, but are rejected; even white employers are asked to help, but nothing will change the mind of the government and its officials. ● The only setback is that the relocation occurs in September, instead of the promised July. • Early in the morning on September 1st, Mandisa and her family wake up to their house burning down → Police cars, bulldozers, and military vehicles surround the township, and white men are destroying homes, forcing the residents to relocate → Families try to salvage what they can from their homes, pulling the structures down themselves to save building materials Arriving in Guguletu, Mandisa observes, "everybody changed."→with the better homes some people believed they'd been bettered, and strove hard to live up to that perception. As the men, who typically worked, had the same wages as before, women started going to work to increase the family's income, leaving children home alone to fend for themselves. Back in the present, in 1993, neither Mxolisi, nor Mandisa's husband, Dwadwa, have returned home. → Once again, Mandisa wonders why Mxolisi refuses to listen to her (she remembers how Mxolisi used to be open with her, and would share his secrets. She wonders why he stopped) Dwadwa returns home ● ● ● Mandisa began her life in Blouvlei. She recounts her memories the Friday she first heard rumors of relocation (the removal of all Africans to a common area set aside only for them)→ they first all laughed about the rumour (didn't believe it) + the location eldest (Grandfather Mxube) said that Blouvlei was going nowhere → reassured them → a year later the rumour was forgotten → even by Tat'uSikhwebu, who she has got the rumor from On a Sunday, months later, Mandisa and Khaya (her brother) are playing on a hill nearby her home with their friends, when an airplane appears overhead. It spews pieces of paper, which the children and their parents first mistake for some kind of weapon. Instead, they are flyers full of typos, which translated announce, "ALL BLOUVLEI WILL BE RELOCATED [...] NEXT MONTH." Mandisa is suddenly hit with a "bleak sadness," realizing she'll soon lose the only home she's ever known. ● Mandisa gets ready for bed. She reflects on the violence that has been occurring in her neighborhood for years. Still, this past violence was different than today's murder of a white woman, which was committed "for no reason at all. ● Dwadwa warns Mandisa that he will "bring you big trouble one day." Mandisa explains that schools have gotten worse since her own childhood. Mxolisi is twenty but still in the classes he should've completed at age eleven or twelve. With "boycotts, strikes, and indifference" Mandisa knows her "children have paid the price." To her, it seems children have decided that their parents are stupid, and that it is now the children's job to lead the revolution. They reported to adult leaders who told the children to "make the country ungovernable." At first, Mandisa admits, parents cheered on their children as they stoned white people's cars. Mandisa remembers singing a song about black South Africans murdering a nun in school, but the song took pity on the nun. Now, she explains, children sing “AmaBhulu, azizinja," or "whites are dogs," an idiom learned from their parents who would say it as they returned from work 4 Chapter 6: ● Mandisa wonders what woke her up in the middle of the night, and realizes it was the sound of a car door being quietly shut. → She wonders if Mxolisi has arrived by car. She comforts herself by asserting her son "is not a bad boy," just a student caught up in politics. She reasons that two weeks ago he saved a girl from an attempted rape, proving he's not a bad person. Her house has been surrounded by police officers → demands the family "open up." Mandisa worries about Mxolisi again, but knows the police wouldn't come to announce that something bad happened to him. ● ● Dwadwa goes to open the door, but the police break it down before they have a chance. The police accuse the family of taking too long to open the door because they are hiding something, and retaliate by breaking apart the furniture in the house. (Even as the police destroy Mandisa's home, she is relieved they are really are law enforcement, and not some anonymous mob.) • still, she wonders why they're here. The police don't help black South Africans in Guguletu, and have even been responsible for several deaths. one of the police officers questions her, shouting "where is he?" over and over, finally clarifying he's looking for her son. → Mandisa truthfully explains she doesn't know where Mxolisi is, and the white police officer slaps her. → Mandisa's children's generation got increasingly out of hand → Mandisa recognizes the children "descended into barbarism," losing their humanity. More people were publicly executed, and when questioned, the children said they were "fighting the apartheid government," and explained, "a war was going on." ● As they leave, although they know Lunga is not Mxolisi, they beat him anyway, joking that "you must be your brother's keeper." ● even though the police have left, mandisa knows that she and her family will never be the same Chapter 7: Mandisa briefly address the Mother, explaining that Mxolisi has caused her so much trouble in her life, but he can no longer surprise her, given his surprise conception. She then begins to tell the story of her first pregnancy. Mandisa was only fifteen-still a child-in 1973 when her son was born ● The story begins: in 1972, Mandisa is a star student, and Mama hopes that both Mandisa and Khaya can use "education to free [themselves] from the slavery" ● Mandisa gets her period for the first time in 1971, which brings with it Mama's constant fear that she will get pregnant. ● Mandisa's best friend, Nono, begins dating Mandisa's brother, Khaya. Mandisa cuts off their friendship, upset that Nono initially kept this romance a secret, as she would pretend to visit Mandisa while really visiting her boyfriend. 5 ● ● ● ● ● Soon after cutting things off with Nono, Mandisa runs into an old school friend, Stella Stella shares gossip with Mandisa, telling her that a girl they knew from Blouvlei is pregnant, and another has been married off to an old man. A new boy begins at Mandisa's school. His name is China, and he and Mandisa begin to date. Mandisa keeps it secret from Mama, who has warned her to never let a boy touch her, lest she get pregnant. Mandisa heeds Mama's warnings, and for months doesn't touch any boys, including Khaya. Finally, Nono explains what Mama means, and what kind of touching can realistically lead to pregnancy Mama is obsessed with Mandisa's virginity → begins doing vaginal examinations to make sure Mandisa is still a virgin, or, in her terms, "whole" and "unspoilt." ● Mama also knows if Mandisa became pregnant it would embarrass the whole extended family, and bring shame on Mama, who is active in the local church. Mama insists it is the duty of mothers to "ensure the health of their daughters." That March, Ribba, a girl only a few years older than Mandisa, dies during a botched abortion. Mandisa and China begin to become physically intimate, but they never have penetrative sex, and therefore hope to avoid the risk of pregnancy. Mandisa fears Mama, and China fears his father and respects Mandisa's wishes. Mama begins to suspect Khaya and Nono are dating, and begins to verbally abuse Nono Nono's mother (Manono) comes over to inform Mama that Nono is pregnant and blaims Khaya for being responsible Mama blames Nono, arguing “it is the girl's responsibility [...] to see that boundaries are not crossed," → forbids Mandisa to be in contact with Nano Mandisa begins to refuse Mama's physical virginity checks → Mama is sending Mandisa to Gungululu to live with her grandmother (Makhulu), who she has never met ● Mandisa's lived in Gungululu for the past three months, and genuinely believes that, if not for her love for China, she would've died despite being well looked after by Makhulu, Mandisa feels abandoned and banished, her relationship with Mama forever changed. One afternoon after school, Mandisa picks up the mail. She hopes to hear from China, but finds a letter for Makhulu instead → Mandisa's grandmother cannot read, and so Mandisa reads the note to her. It is from Auntie Funiwe, Mama's sister, and Makhulu's daughter. Funiwe writes that she is going to come visit after the schools close in the fall. She says she is coming to deliver a baby. → Makhulu is confused Auntie Funiwe is going to arrive in two days→ Makhulu is extremely excited At the end of the school term, Mandisa attends a school ceremony in which students are called out according to their class rank. She is not first, and worries for a moment that she will be last, but then is rewarded with second place. She's happy for herself, but also that she can bring the good news back to Makhulu and China. a letter from China arrives ● Funiwe arrives late one night and Mandisa doesn't meet her until the morning (they don't talk) ● Funiwe, with fresh eyes, can see what Makhulu had failed to notice, and Mandisa eavesdrops from outside as Funiwe asks Makhulu if Mandisa is pregnant. 6 ● Mandisa realizes she hasn't had her period in the three months she's been in Gungululu. ● Funiwe and Makhulu call Mandisa inside and begin to question her. She explains she had a boyfriend, China, back in Cape Town, but never had penetrative sex with him. Makhulu verifies that Mandisa has not had a boyfriend in Gungululu, and that when she arrived she was, according to Mama's inspections, still a virgin. The two women send for a midwife from the village. She examines Mandisa, and confirms that she's technically still a virgin, but she is definitely pregnant, exclaiming, "She has been jumped into!" Makhulu and Funiwe call Mama, who arrives two days later. Sobbing, she wonders "what will the church people [will] say" and complains about the shame Mandisa brought to the family. Funiwe tries to explain that Mandisa has brought no shame, and that the whole situation is an unfortunate accident. She also urges Mama to "support and protect" Mandisa. ● Like Mama, Mandisa feels her technical virginity doesn't matter. Meanwhile, despite Funiwe and Makhulu's urging, Mama refuses to see her daughter as “an innocent victim and therefore someone worthy of her sympathy." Mandisa feels her life is over, the future she'd planned "bulldozed, extinguished, pulverized." ● Chapter 8: Mandisa addresses the Mother. She explains that three children call her mother, but ever since Mxolisi killed the Girl, she's been called various other names-"Mother of the beast. Mother of the serpent," and even "Satan's mother." From the beginning Mxolisi caused pain, and brought “shame” and "bitter tears." ● uncomfortable silence on the way back to Cape Town → Mandisa fears that Mama is going to be extremely strict with her (even before Gungululu she was extremely strict) ● Back in Cape Town, Mama puts Mandisa under house arrest, forcing her to use the toilet only at night, and taking time off of work to monitor her daughter. ● Mama worries about the neighbors gossiping, and the effect gossip will have on her own reputation. •● Tata will not acknowledge his daughter ● Eventually, Mandisa asks Mama about seeing China, arguing, “this has happened to him as much as it has happened to me.” Mama disagrees, arguing that nothing has happened to China. Mandisa gives a note to some school children passing by, and asks them to deliver it to China so he'll come and see her → However, this was unnecessary, because as soon as the school children leave, China comes in through the back door to see her → China doesn't greet Mandisa. Mandisa tries to explain what happened, but she can see China getting angrier and angrier. He believes she had sex with someone else, and refuses to acknowledge the possibility he is the father. He yells at Mandisa and she collapses to the floor. → He doesn't help her, instead, he watches her as she struggles to her feet. He tells her he's going to boarding school next year. He has a scholarship, and plans to use it. ● For the first time she sees China can be "vain," "self-centered," and "weak." She calls after him that he should never “set foot in this house again.” ● ● ● 7 Eventually, when Mandisa is six months pregnant, her family (uncles) takes her to China's house. → they greet a cluster of China's male relatives, who will represent him ● Mandisa's uncles explain to them that Mandisa has been examined and is still "whole" ● China's relatives did not explicitly deny China's responsibility in Mandisa's pregnancy. Mandisa is mostly upset she wasn't able to see China, and wonders if, given more time to process the pregnancy, he'll come around and accept her and the baby. She doesn't see him again until she is eight months pregnant. They meet in the priest's office, as Father Mark Savage insists that China, a Christian, "can only do what is right"—that is, marry Mandisa. → China has to "change his status" before he marries, and goes to the bush to get circumcised. ● By late February, when Hlumelo is two months old, Mandisa no longer wants to marry China. She had wanted to get married before she gave birth, so she wouldn't be an unwed mother and "bring disgrace upon the family," but marrying China won't help her now. she worries her marriage will be like "tying oneself to a dog in a patch of nettles." ● Mandisa explains this to Mama and Tata. Mama disagrees, but Tata is on her side → they convince her → Mandisa uses money from her parents to enroll in evening Adult Education classes. • Unfortunately, Tata, swayed by his brothers and extended family, changes his mind. China's family is ready to accept Mandisa as China's wife, and so, three months after having her baby, Mandisa gets married. There isn't a ceremony; instead their marriage is a "mutual agreement between respective families," with each side accepting the other as in-laws. ● Mandisa is forced to move into China's family's home However, before she can get married, Mandisa gives birth (names him Hlumelo). → So full of anger throughout her pregnancy, the actual birth is so painful Mandisa finds herself hating her baby. However, as soon as he is born, and she breastfeeds him for the first time, she forgives him. Mandisa wonders if "forgive" is the right word: she knows that technically, he has done nothing intentionally wrong. ● As Mandisa leaves, Mama asks about Hlumelo, and Mandisa realizes her mother has both accepted her grandson and begun to love him. Mandisa realizes that her life is about to change again. Mama had slept with Mxolisi, and carried him on her back when they went to the post-natal clinic together. For the first time Mandisa is carrying her own baby and will sleep with him. She considers how, if not for Mxolisi, she would "still be in school." Now, instead she is "forced into being a wife, forever abandoning [her] dreams, hopes, aspirations. For ever." Mandisa arrives at China's home, where he lives with his extended family. A young man ushers Mandisa inside and leaves her with a group of women → She cries most of the night, which is expected of most new brides, and feels as though her bones are full of "resentment and anger and hurt and fear." All of this emotion numbs her. ● ● ● Mandisa is then subjected to a traditional ritual in which her in-laws rename her. Mandisa is allowed to reject names until she finds one acceptable, but knows the family can also stop suggesting new ones, and stick her with something unpleasant. 8 ● Mandisa's in-laws also insist on renaming Hlumelo → This is unconventional, but China's relatives insist that Mandisa didn't have the right to name the baby. Traditionally, grandparents name children, but since Mandisa was alone at the hospital, she did it herself. China's aunt firmly suggests the name "Mxolisi". Mandisa associates the name with a schoolmate she disliked, and though she is on the verge of tears, she doesn't protest. China's father says that his family hopes that through marriage and raising Mxolisi, the two families will grow together. That evening, China complains about Mandisa's "miserly dowry." Mandisa lashes out, and the couple sleeps turned away from each other → Mandisa helps to run the household Mama comes by to see Mandisa, and notices that she's been getting thinner and thinner. Both she and Tata are worried about their daughter, and tell her she can come home if she needs to. China gets a job at a Cold Meat Storage facility. He works long hours, but sleeps well at home. Mandisa is jealous; she struggles to sleep and feels deeply bitter. Although she and China had been so attracted to each other when sex was forbidden, now their relationship is "dead," all desire gone. One morning China and Mandisa have an especially bad fight: Mandisa tries to wake China up for work, but he criticizes her for trying to help. He tells her it's "too late" for her help, as he's “not yet twenty and already out of school, doing a job he hates." → Mandisa wonders how this is her fault, and China tells her she could've gotten an abortion. → Horrified, Mandisa spends the morning thinking of Ribba, her classmate who died during a backyard abortion. Mandisa's in a period called ukuhota, where she's meant to serve her in-laws. Normally, this period lasts until the wife has a baby, but since she already has a baby, she hopes it will end soon. China gets paid for the job that he hates, but Mandisa labors for free. ● After a year, Mandisa hopes her servitude might be up, and she'll be able to restart her education. She asks China's father, who offers excuses mostly that Mxolisi is too young She admits that a part of her hates her son, or at least what he's done to her life. She feels that he is "always cheating me of something I desperately wanted." ● ● ● ● China's aunt suggests "Nohehake," which contains “Hehake,” “an exclamation of surprise at some [...] unimaginable monstrosity." Although offensive, Mandisa accepts the "mockery of a name." ● ● After another year, Mandisa asks China's father if she can return to school. This time, he says they don't have enough money. Even though Tata offered to pay, her father-in-law refuses to accept his charity, citing his family's pride. ● That year, just after Mxolisi turns two, China disappears. He leaves for work one day and never returns →→ China's father blames Mandisa for his son's disappearance, and goes to search for him, but China cannot be found. • Twenty years later, Mandisa has still never seen him again. She wonders if their relationship could've been better under different circumstances-if he found out about her pregnancy earlier China's father, distraught, stops going to work. Without his and China's income, the family desperately needs money, and so Mandisa goes to work as a domestic servant. She is still expected to do her domestic duties around the house but after six months is fed up, and so rents a hokkie for herself and Mxolisi . Although he was a precocious child who learned to speak early 9 He often plays with the teenage boys, Zazi and Mzamo One day, Zazi and Mzamo run into the house terrified, and their father quickly hides them in a wardrobe. The police charge into the house, but can't find the children. → As they leave, Mxolisi calls out, and points to the wardrobe where the boys are hiding. The boys try to escape but the police shoot them instantly. → Traumatized by witnessing the death of his two friends, Mxolisi stops speaking for two years. ● Mandisa worries about him and goes to a hospital where doctors, nurses, and social workers examine Mxolisi, and explain that there's nothing physically wrong with him, although his heart is broken and he needs time to heal. Nano visits Mandisa → they talk about the year they became pregnant and about Ribba → Nono confesses she was jealous of Ribba; although Ribba had died, Nono found the anger she faced almost unbearable. ● ● ● ● China's father suggests bringing Mxolisi to a sangoma, an indigenous healer. → he sangoma has an assistant bring her a glass of water, which she makes change color. Mxolisi gasps, the most noise he's made in two years. she addresses Mxolisi. She tells him that he holds himself, and is held by others, responsible. She then looks to Mandisa and tells her "you must free your son," and that children “know when we hate them." She finishes by saying Mxolisi has already "seen great evil," and needs "all the love and understanding he can get." ● ● Mandisa asks Nono what the hardest part for her was. For Nono, it was "fear of discovery" and "shame." For Mandisa, it was the shock of pregnancy. ● A few weeks later, Nono comes to visit Mandisa and asks when Mandisa is planning to have another baby. → Mandisa jokes that China is not around, and she'd need his help. Nono offers to find Mandisa a partner, but as they talk Mandisa realizes why she's been uninterested in having sex, and why she's been so resentful of Mxolisi. Mxolisi has, in a way, taken her own virginity. Just as some women always fondly remember the partner who took their virginity, she resents her son for it. Nono is pregnant again, and she and Khaya finally get married. → At the wedding, Mandisa meets Lungile, who offers to walk her home. She doesn't need help, but remembers Nono and the sangoma and allows him to walk her home anyway. Nine months later, she gives birth to a second son, Lunga. Lungile and Mxolisi get along well, often spending one-on-one time together. Still, Mandisa enjoys "Our private moments" with her son. When Mxolisi could talk, he would often whisper to her when he didn't want other people to hear, and now, even though he doesn't speak, he still communicates with little signs. Soon after Lunga is born, Mxolisi stops whispering for a while. He also begins to wet his bed. Finally, for the first time in two years, Mxolisi speaks. He asks "Uph' owam utata? [...] Where is my own father?" Shocked, Mandisa doesn't answer, and Mxolisi asks again. However, when he doesn't receive an answer, he never inquires after China again. ● Even after Mxolisi begins to speak again, Mandisa worries about the "terrible guilt" he carries for the deaths of Mzamo and Zazi, whom he has never cried for or asked about. Soon, Mxolisi begins school. He's the top of his class, though suffers a setback when a teacher canes him for not having paid school fees. 10 ● However, Lungile eventually leaves them, and Mandisa has to watch her two sons by herself. Mxolisi soon stops attending school, and gets a job to help his mother. Mandisa explains to him how much harder his life will be if he stops attending school, and decides to get a better paying job. Mxolisi initially returns to school, but in high school he grows increasingly radicalized and even becomes a political student leader. He learns chants, like "LIBERATION NOW, EDUCATION LATER," and "ONE SETTLER, ONE BULLET." The more politically active Mxolisi becomes, the less time he spends at home and at school. ● • Eventually, Mandisa gets married to a man named Dwadwa, with whom she has her third child, a daughter named Siziwe. Mandisa appreciates that Dwadwa is "solid, steadfast, [and] predictable." ● Mandisa is often stopped in Guguletu by strangers who call her "Mother of Mxolisi," and tell her she should be proud of her son because of his political activism. two strangers came to her home, a man and a woman, and thanked her for raising Mxolisi, who had saved their daughter from an attempted rape. → The girl's parents believed Mxolisi had a good heart, stopping a crime no one else thought to stop. ● ● Now, since Mxolisi has murdered the Girl, Mandisa laments that the same people who praised her for raising Mxolisi now blame her. Chapter 9: ● Back in the present, Mandisa has thousands of questions after the police leave, as they told her nothing about their raid. However, she's afraid she already knows the answers-the police are looking for Mxolisi because of his involvement in the death of the Girl. Skonana comes by looking for gossip, but Dwadwa asks her to leave. As she goes, offended, she says she came over because wanted to tell them "what people on the street are saying." Mandisa is curious, but doesn't call out. Instead, she takes her frustration out on Dwadwa, and then begins worrying more about Mxolisi. ● Mandisa is happy to examine Lunga and see his injuries are only superficial. Siziwe, however, who was physically uninjured, is emotionally devastated. Mandisa goes to care for her daughter as Dwadwa cares for their son. She is interrupted by another neighbor, Qwati, whom Dwadwa also quickly kicks out. ● Mandisa picks up Siziwe from where she is squatting and shaking in the kitchen and carries her to the bedroom. She can neither cry nor speak, but eventually seems to fall asleep. Mandisa gets up but Siziwe wakes up and calls her back, tears finally pouring forth. → She admits she saw Mxolisi the previous day; he ran into the house and hid something in the hokkie. Siziwe has a "cagey" look, and won't tell Mandisa any more details. Siziwe and Lunga are relatively safe, and Mandisa finally gives herself a moment to feel “fear and anger." She "feared, and refused to accept" what has happened to Mxolisi. Dwadwa tries to comfort her as he prepares for work, and checks in one last time before he leaves. Mandisa decides to stay home and wait for Mxolisi. Dwadwa wonders what she'll do if her son doesn't return, but Mandisa, angry, responds that he "always comes home," and if he's not home by lunch she'll go look for him. 11 ● Dwadwa doesn't think Mxolisi will return. Dwadwa believes Mxolisi knows the police are after him. Mandisa asks him why he thinks the police are after her son. Dwadwa is shocked-he argues that he's always said Mxolisi "will bring us heavy trouble one day." As he leaves, he warns Mandisa that Mxolisi will come home "dragging [...] a thorny bush of a scandal." Chapter 10: Mandisa explains that there is some knowledge she's had with her for her entire life. She was either born with it, or learned it very young. → Her parents often complained about their white bosses, and often drove home the idea that "white people stole our land." Mandisa learned the history of this phrase when Tatomkhulu, her grandfather, came to visit. After hearing what she'd been learning at school, he decided to help reeducate her. First, he explains the origins of the names Cape of Storm and Cape of Good Hope ● → Europeans named it Cape of Storms because the rough sea destroyed ships, but when they decided to settle there, the land became a hopeful place, hence the Cape of Good Hope. ● Another day, Tatomkhulu tells Mandisa the story of Nongqawuse. Mandisa learned in school that she was "a false prophet who told people to kill all their cattle" with the promise of new cattle; the people did as she said, "because they were superstitious and ignorant." ● → Tatomkhulu explains the people were not "superstitious and ignorant"; instead, they had a deep hatred for the white people who had invaded their homeland. "No sacrifice [was] too great, to wash away the curse" of the settlers, and since then people have only become more hateful → Tatomkhulu continues, underscoring the love that the UmXhosa people had for their cattle, and how great their hatred would have to be to kill their livelihood. → However, resentment was so deep, in the 1850s people felt they had no other choice. People killed their cows and burned their fields, but three days later, when Nongqawuse promised a storm would come to replace their cattle and sweep the white settlers away, nothing happened. → Instead, the UmXhosa people, now starving, were forced to work in white-owned mines and sell their lands to be able to eat. • Through these stories, Tatomkhulu explains how, "what had seemed stupid decisions, and acts that had seemed indefensible became not only understandable but highly honorable." ● back in the present Siziwe tells her mother she thinks Mxolisi had something to do with the Girl who was murdered A man exits and knocks on the door. Mandisa invites the man in, who introduces himself as Reverend Mananga. He tells her to pass on a message to Mxolisi, that he's found a meeting place for him. However, as he speaks, he writes a note, which he hands to Mandisa as he leaves. It tells her to take a taxi to Khayelitsha, and get off at the last stop. Mandisa immediately prepares to go. She assumes the Reverend is leading her to her son. Mandisa boards a taxi towards Khayelitsha. A woman sits next to her, and gives her a note, telling Mandisa to get off the taxi one stop after the woman. 12 ● Mandisa waits alone in a room for half an hour, until Mxolisi enters the room. They look at each other for a moment, and then begin to hug and cry. ● Mxolisi tells Mandisa he's being blamed for the murder of the Girl. He insists he was "just one of a hundred people who threw stones at the car.” Mandisa wants to know if her son stabbed the Girl; he refuses to answer at first, and then insists he didn't, sobbing. Mandisa asks why people are blaming him if he is not guilty → Mxolisi continues to insist he was not the only one present at the Girl's murder. Mandisa is terrified for her son and for herself. She understands Mxolisi will be arrested and charged with murder. ● ● ● Mandisa follows this instruction. At the taxi stop, Reverend Mananga pulls up in his car, and tells her to wait for a woman driving a red car. This woman arrives, and invites Mandisa into her car. She drives Mandisa to a house Chapter 11: ● ● She calls Mxolisi a fool, explaining that his "knife has her blood, it doesn't matter if you stabbed her in the thumb." Mandisa addresses the Mother. → She wonders what she should do for Mxolisi: "Deliver him to the police? Get him a lawyer?" She wonders if supporting her son will mean she cannot mourn the Girl, and wonders if she and the Mother are enemies. → Mandisa wonders if the Girl could have stayed in her home country, and done good there, instead of coming to South Africa. She had a bright future ahead of her. → Mandisa wonders if Mxolisi had anything "to live for," even before his crime. Mandisa points out how the same people who now criticize Mxolisi at one point praised him for being a Young Lion, and taught him chants like "one settler, one bullet!" She compares Mxolisi to a dog set out to attack an enemy, so that only the dog, not its handlers, are at risk. Mandisa is filled with "shame" at Mxolisi's crime, and "anger" at the adults who have been pushing him towards it. She tells the Mother that any leaders who reach out with consolations are, "[s]urely as my son [...] your daughter's murderers," if not even "guiltier. Mandisa address the Mother, whom she knows is also suffering. Mandisa herself is living a sorrowful, joyless life. She wonders how the police really know who killed the Girl, "which hand delivered the telling stab, the fatal blow?" She wonders why Mxolisi was singled out. She wonders why Mxolisi did this, and prays to God for help. Some time later, Skonana and Qwati visit Mandisa's house. Frustrated that her nosey neighbors have come to visit, she opens the door anyway. They announce they've come to cry with Mandisa, "as is our custom, to grieve with those who grieve." For the first time, she begins to see less "condemnation" in the eyes of her neighbors, and understands that some, if not all, "understand my pain." 13 Mandisa appreciates the help of her neighbors, who give her strength. She believes people need to help each other, but children especially, so they don't grow up to be a "problem." She wonders if even Mxolisi can be helped, if he can "change and come back [a] better" person. Mandisa addresses the Mother again. She calls the Girl "the imperfect atonement of her race," and Mxolisi "the perfect host of the demons of his." Together, the two mothers are "bound in this sorrow," but Mandisa must carry shame, and "personal failure." She hopes the Mother can find strength from the "glory" associated with her tragedy. Chapter 12: Mandisa wonders what Mxolisi had to live for. Even before his crime, his future was "a glaring void." He could see the men of his father's generation, defeated, working for low wages with "no escape" in sight. ● Mandisa imagines the afternoon of Wednesday, August 25, the moment Mxolisi killed the Girl: → Mxolisi and his group of friends are walking through the neighborhood. He breaks off with a handful of other young people. Mxolisi is almost home, when someone spots the Girl in her car. Immediately, upon seeing a white person in Guguletu, people begin chanting "ONE SETTLER! ONE BULLET!". A crowd begins to gather and pick up the chant. Mxolisi's group, down the street, hears the commotion and runs towards it. → The Girl tries to drive away, but her car is stuck in a line of other cars. Bodies surround the car, and begin to rock it, at first gently, and then people begin to throw rocks, breaking through the windows and windshield. The Girl and her four passengers decide to leave the car and run for freedom. One of the Girl's friends yells that "she's just a university student," but Mxolisi and the others "know nothing of universities." → Mxolisi is "King! If for a day." People begin to chant "AMANDLA! NGAWETHU! POWER! IT IS OURS!" As well as "AMABHULU, AZIZINJA! BOERS, THEY ARE DOGS," a song Mxolisi has heard his whole life. The crowd cheers Mxolisi on-in fact, society has "been cheering him on since the day he was born. Before he was born. Long before." Mandisa knows Nongqawuse saw the "whirlwind" over a century ago. Mandisa believes Mxolisi was "only an agent" of his race, a "blind but sharpened arrow," aimed at the Girl, "the sacrifice" of her race. Characters Mandisa: The novel's narrator, Mandisa is also referred to as Molokazana and Nohenhake by her husband China's family. Mandisa is the early middle-aged mother of three: Mxolisi, Lunga, and Siziwe. She has one brother Khaya. Mandisa was a respectful, hardworking child and talented student, whose life was first disrupted by her family's forced relocation to Guguletu, and then by her surprise pregnancy. Mandisa and her then-boyfriend, China, got Mxolisi. Out of duty, Mandisa marries China, and the two are unhappily married for two years. However, one day China leaves for work 14 and never comes back, leaving Mandisa to fend for herself. As she pieces her life back together and starts anew, Mandisa comes to resent Mxolisi for disrupting her life. Mandisa then conceives a second child with a man named Lungile, who, like China, also leaves her. She eventually marries a man named Dwadwa, with whom she has her youngest child and only daughter, Siziwe. Out of all of Mandisa's children, Mxolisi becomes the biggest troublemaker and the most politically charged. When he gets into hot water for stabbing and murdering a white girl Mandisa feels great guilt regarding Mxolisi's life and crimes. She feels responsible for him, and is made to feel responsible for his murder of The Girl by people in her community. Mxolisi: Mandisa's oldest son, and her only son with China. He is originally named Hlumelo, but China's family renames him, claiming their right to do so, as grandparents traditionally name the baby. Mxolisi is twenty, but still in the equivalent of middle or early high school, both because of his own truancy and because of the abysmal school system. Mandisa and Mxolisi have a troubled relationship; she blames him for his own conception (he was unplanned), and, because she had never had penetrative sex before giving birth, she blames Mxolisi for essentially taking her virginity. Mandisa, however, tries to compensate for resenting her son by paying more attention to him, at the expense of her other children, Siziwe and Lunga, who accuse her of favoring their brother. Mxolisi began his life as a sweet child, but when he witnessed the police murder his friends, Zazi and Mzamo, he stopped speaking for several years. He eventually regained his speech, and Mandisa sent him to school, where beatings from teachers discouraged him from continuing to pursue his education. He dropped out without Mandisa's knowledge to work and help her support the family, but she convinced him to return. Eventually he became politically active, and joined the Young Lions, spending his days patrolling the neighborhood, sometimes fighting for his education, but often harassing members of his own community. Mxolisi becomes caught up in a mob that forms around the car of a white university girl when she drives in Guguletu-a place that is extremely unsafe for white people and when the violence escalates, he stabs and kills The Girl. Mxolisi clearly feels guilt and regret for what he's done, which he confesses to Mandisa in their final conversation in the novel. Although not depicted, he likely turns himself in, and spends time (if not the rest of his life) in jail. Dwadwa: Mandisa's husband, and the father of her youngest child and only daughter, Siziwe. Dwadwa is a good man, who treats Mandisa's first two children, Mxolisi and Lunga, as his own (their fathers are China and Lungile, respectively). Still, Mandisa remains the primary parent of her three children, and is more involved in the internal and external lives of all of her children than Dwadwa is with his biological daughter and adopted sons. Mama: Her name is Kukwana, is married to Tata, and has two children, Mandisa and Khaya. Mama is a strict parent, calling in her children while other parents allowed their sons and daughters to continue to play, expecting them to do many chores around the house, and demanding academic excellence. Mandisa, however, has a relatively good relationship with Mama until she hits puberty, at which point Mama becomes obsessed with Mandisa's virginity, forcing her to undergo vaginal examinations to ensure she hasn't had sex. Though she balks at the invasive examinations, Mandisa takes Mama's warnings to heart and refuses to have penetrative sex with her boyfriend, China. Over time, though, Mandisa begins to refuse the examinations, and Mama banishes Mandisa to live with her grandmother (Mama's own mother), Makhulu, in Gungululu. Mama, a member of a local church, is concerned with her own social standing and the stigma Mandisa's pregnancy could bring upon the family. She cares about her own social capital more than her daughter's wellbeing, and so when Mandisa does finally become pregnant-despite not having penetrative sex-Mama is ashamed and embarrassed, and unable to bring herself to help her daughter. Once Mxolisi is born, however, Mama warms to him and begins to forgive Mandisa for having sex and getting pregnant out of wedlock, accepting her back into her life. China: Mandisa's first boyfriend, and the father of Mxolisi. In his youth, China was a respectful teenage boy, a good student with a bright future, and never pressured Mandisa for sex, carefully listening to and acknowledging her 15 boundaries. When Mandisa moves away to live with Makhulu in Gungululu, China writes her frequently, and presumably stays faithful. However, when he discovers Mandisa is pregnant, his entire demeanor changes. He scathingly accuses Mandisa of cheating on him-after all, the pair have never had penetrative sex-and believes that she's trying to trick him into taking responsibility as the father of the child. Although he and his family are eventually convinced to acknowledge Mxolisi as part of their bloodline, and China and Mandisa marry out of duty, China never forgives Mandisa or their son for ruining his future. He is forced to drop out of school to work and support the family, and, after two years of unhappy marriage, runs away, never to be heard from again. Mandisa feels similarly, and throughout her life she resents Mxolisi for getting in the way of her own plans for her life. The white girl whom Mxolisi stabs and murders when she drives into Guguletu-a place that is extremely dangerous for white people like herself. Mandisa believes that The Girl was driving through the town in order to drop of her black friends from college, who had warned her about the risks of going to Guguletu, which she had promptly brushed off. As soon as the Guguletu residents spot a white person in their town, though, they begin to chant, "One settler, one bullet," and a mob forms around The Girl's car, rocking it menacingly. The crowd swiftly turns violent, as they chant that Boers (white people in South Africa) are dogs-"AmaBhulu, azizinja!" When Mxolisi fatally stabs her, he is treated like a "king." Although a fictional character, The Girl based on Amy Elizabeth Biehl, an American Fulbright Scholar studying in South Africa, who was murdered by a group of young black South Africans. The story is occasionally told from The Girl's point of view in the third person, but these passages are always Mandisa mournfully imagining what The Girl's final moments were like. The Girl's internal life is not known, instead it is constructed by Mandisa. Mandisa creates a book-smart, kindhearted, dedicated friend, who nonetheless doesn't fully understand the racial dynamics of South Africa. Makhulu: Mandisa's maternal grandmother and Mama's mother, who lives in Gungululu. When Mandisa stops submitting willingly to Mama's invasive "virginity checks," Mama banishes her to live with Makhulu, despite the fact that Mandisa has never even met the woman. Luckily, Makhulu is a kind caretaker, keeping Mandisa "sane" and "bodily alive," making sure to cook food she knows Mandisa likes, and making sure she feels love even if Mama abandoned her. Much less judgmental than Mama, when Makhulu discovers that Mandisa is pregnant, she accepts the truth: that this was an accident and Mandisa should not be blamed. Instead, Mandisa should be comforted, supported, and accepted by her family. Lunga: Mandisa's second son, and her only son with Lungile, who eventually leaves her just like China did not long after she gave birth to Mxolisi. Lunga is small for his age, especially compared to his brother. Unlike Mxolisi he is not (yet) involved in student protests, and more regularly attends school. Both Lunga and his sister, Siziwe, accuse Mandisa of preferring their older brother, Mxolisi, to them. In actuality, Mandisa deeply resents Mxolisi for changing the course of her life, but she does shower him with extra attention to make up for her resentment. Siziwe: Mandisa's youngest child and only daughter, and Dwadwa's only biological child. Both Lunga and Siziwe accuse Mandisa of preferring their older brother, Mxolisi, to them. This is partly true, as Mandisa objectively does give Mxolisi more attention than her other two children. However, this is because Mandisa deeply resents Mxolisi for ruining her life and blames him for his own surprise conception (Mandisa and her then-boyfriend China never had penetrative sex, but got pregnant anyway). Mandisa gives her eldest son more attention to make up for holding such a fierce grudge against him. Khaya: Mandisa's brother, and Mama and Tata's son. Like Mandisa, Khaya is a smart, well-behaved child. He and Nono, Mandisa's close friend, begin dating when they are all teenagers, and Khaya eventually impregnates her. Unlike 16 Mandisa, who Mama feels has brought shame to the family, Mama does not see Khaya as responsible for his girlfriend's pregnancy, illuminating a double standard in her treatment of her children based on gender. Tata: Mandisa and Khaya's father and Mama's husband. Tata is a more hands-off parent than Mama, going to work during the day to support his family and interacting with his children mostly in the evenings. When Mandisa first becomes pregnant-despite not having penetrative sex with China-Tata refuses to even acknowledge her, but eventually comes to understand her surprise pregnancy is not her fault, and accepts both her and her new son, Mxolisi, back into the family. Nono: Mandisa's childhood friend, and Khaya's girlfriend and eventual wife. Mandisa and Nono grow apart when Mandisa discovers that Nono has been secretly dating her brother, but the two reconcile over time. Nono becomes pregnant a few months before Mandisa discovers her own pregnancy, which causes Mama to become even more vigilant about monitoring Mandisa's virginity. Auntie Funiwe: Mama's sister, Makhulu's daughter, and Mandisa's aunt. Auntie Funiwe comes to visit Mandisa in Gungululu and is the first to realize her niece is pregnant-Mandisa herself doesn't even realize it yet. Like Makhulu, Auntie Funiwe is empathetic and supportive of Mandisa, and urges Mama to treat her daughter with kindness and support. China's father: A man who cares more about his son, China, and grandson, Mxolisi, than he does about Mandisa, his daughter in law. China's father blames Mandisa for many of his and China's misfortunes, from her pregnancy to China's eventual disappearance after only two years of marriage. He and the rest of his family treat Mandisa as a servant. Tooksie's mother: China's aunt and his cousin Tooksie's mother. She is the owner of the house where Mandisa moves in with China and his family after their marriage. Tooksie's mother, like many of the other women in the household actively disrespects Mandisa, and it is Tooksie's mother that gives her a new name, "Nohehake," an insult, which is a "an exclamation of utter surprise" at an "unimaginable monstrosity." Zazi and Mzamo: Two teenage boys who lived nearby Mandisa and Mxolisi when Mxolisi was a baby. One day some police officers became upset with them, and chased the boys into their home. Zazi and Mzamo hid in a wardrobe, and the police officers searched the house and prepared to leave. However, as they were almost out the door, Mxolisi, who was still a toddler, innocently pointed out Zazi and Mzamo's hiding spot. The police shot and killed the two boys on the spot. In response to witnessing their brutal death, Mxolisi stopped speaking for several years, presumably guilty and traumatized. Lungile: The father of Mandisa's second son, Lunga. Lungile is Mandisa's lover for a period of years. Mandisa describes him as unattractive but talkative and attentive. He is sweet to her eldest son, Mxolisi, often spending one-on-one time with him. Lungile and Mandisa never officially marry, although they spend years together and have a child. Eventually, Lungile leaves to become a freedom fighter. 17