I listen to Redi Tlhabi almost every day on radio 702, when her book ‘Endings and Beginnings’ came out I bought it for our book club. At first I left it for others to read then brought it home a week ago. I stalled starting it for a few days, although I enjoy autobiographical works they can be a bit heavy and sometimes even if good they are generally not page turners. On the first day I could hardly put the book down and with minimal reading time available, was half way through before I knew it. It is beautifully written and held my attention throughout. I read it in 3 days.
Redi’s style of writing is so real and honest. This is one of those books which haunts your thoughts throughout the day even when you are not reading it. The story is extremely thought-provoking. For me it challenged preconceived notions and opened the doors to new avenues of thought. This is a book which forces personal reflection and ultimately growth. For example, I have always firmly believed that we are very much the product of our choices, our decisions. I have scorned those who blame their parents or society for who they become. I based this on the fact that I have made some bad decisions in my life with life long repercussions, but felt that to cast blame outside myself would have been a weak cop-out. The book led me to reflect on this now ‘cast in stone’ personal philosophy. What if instead of a loving family, I grew up rejected and insecure? What if I was born with a name with a negative meaning such as ‘Trouble’? Ultimately the lesson which this book taught me is, Do Not Judge.
The church scene where a known criminal is sent out of church and the Christian who evicted him was so smug in performing this act, broke my heart. Oh Jesus, the things that are done in your name! Why do Christians enjoy such moral superiority? The sin of pride is so blinding. Why oh why can’t Christians remember ‘They will know we are Christians by our LOVE”.
My heart ached at the tragedy of the story, how many lives could have been so different. Mabegzo could have been a strong leader under different circumstances. His mother’s life would have been so different. Lives would not have been lost, hopes dashed. So many other paths could have opened to all who were touched. What if? What if?
Actually let me stop right here. I had planned to go into many thoughts and feelings which this book evoked but whatever I write cannot do it justice. All I can say is, this is a book which must be read, it is poignant, it is tragic and it is triumphant.
I am not a weeper, I go years without shedding a tear. I don’t do crying, but the end of this book had me in tears. Don’t let this put you off reading the book, please read it, you will be richer at the end. As the cover says, it is “A story of healing”.
Bravo Redi Bravo!
PS – There is great movie potential in this