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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Penelope, 27 Aug 2009
By 
Helene Passtoors (Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cry of Winnie Mandela (Paperback)
Njabulo Ndebele is a South African writer, one of the best. One only regrets that he hasn't written a lot more fiction alongside his sharp essays that treat of everything from the role of literature under apartheid till various aspects of present day South Africa which are always eye openers and beautifully written with rare sensitive insight. Ndebele is Rector of the University of Cape Town which explains perhaps why we'll have to wait for his fascinating projects of fiction that he sometimes mentions, such as exploring the violence in the townships.
But The Cry of Winnie Mandela luckily did make it to the publisher. It is a most intriguing novel about a widespread phenomenon in South African society - under apartheid in particular, but also still now - : that of the waiting, lonely wife, the Penelope. Whether their men went to work in a faraway town or on the mines, or disappeared into exile without a word, or just left them without explanation, or went to study abroad to be the first doctor in the township, or disappeared in prison, the women are unable to cut the link and wait asking themselves eternal questions, each in their own way. They long for their man and loathe him. They long for sex and are not able to give themselves. They raise their children dutifully and sometimes even support their man instead of the contrary. Yet when and if the man finally comes home, it is a disaster and they realise they have lost many precious years of their life. The Penelopes of Ndebele have much in common despite their different circumstances and join in a talk group to share their pains and experiences. They start a game: talking or writing to Winnie Mandela, once their idol now under the shades of doubt. They ask her, each from their own standpoint, all the questions we all would like to ask Winnie. They love her and want to understand, they want to loathe her and are unable to. They've lived the same 'insanity'. Then Winnie's alterego takes her on a ride showing her the places she has been to and asking her own questions. Winnie who reacted to her loneliness and to the torture the apartheid made her undergo with anger, with rage. She ended up making a 'monument to the power of anger and the anger of power' in the name of the struggle for liberation. And yet, it is impossible to condemn her because she is also a deeply loving woman and heroic. In the end, Winnie joins the group herself.
Ndebele is the only writer who has tried to go deep into the personality of Winnie Mandela and what happened to her, in her and through her. He does so without gloves nor romanticism, but in beautiful language.As he also explores his other Penelopes. Here fiction means grasping a very raw reality and seeing how struggling women deal with it and survive. It is never cruel and never blunt. A jewel of a little book, to read over and over again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 6 July 2014
This review is from: The Cry of Winnie Mandela (Paperback)
very illuminating
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fan of mama Winnie and Njabulo, 9 Feb 2010
By 
Sello Kekana (daventry ,uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cry of Winnie Mandela (Paperback)
how shall i put,my feelings into words,excuse the cliche,`words will fail me`
nonetheless,i grew up during struggle days and witnesed first hand atrocities of apartheid,chief luthuli said that`above everything else apartheid is indifferent to human suffering`
men and women suffered, more so at pesonal level,humiliation,helplessnes etc
this dialogue or monologues by this ladies, are poignant and reminds the current anc goverment how people put them in power at a greater price,some lost families,some even their lives,
when cabinet ministers drive in their flashy cars they should ,atleast
not forget who got them there and show differece to the masses
To me this `the cry of winnie mandela `is classic,if it was up to me kids in south africa should read such books
alongside,Bessie head,achebe,Ngugi.
i read fools and other stories,i am saying from the bottom of my heart that Njabulo is a master.
winnie is a extra ordinary woman ,made who she is by extra ordinary circumstance
love her or hate her,i for one ,i love her ,with her faults
i think Njabulo portrayed her well,and with love she so deserved
Mother of the nation! mmmwaaahhh !!
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The Cry of Winnie Mandela
The Cry of Winnie Mandela by Njabulo S. Ndebele (Paperback - 1 April 2004)
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