Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

UKZN Press

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Complicity of Silence During the Struggle: Read an Excerpt from I Speak to the Silent by Mtutuzeli Nyoka

I Speak to the SilentI Speak to the Silent is an exciting novel by Mtutuzeli Nyoka, a powerful storyteller who tells his history as he sees it.

The novel tells Walter Hambile Kondile’s story – “a simple man, a Xhosa and an African, whose life is of no significance to the world”. He is the typical “good native” of his generation, poorly educated and subservient, brought up to know his place and believe that “it was God’s design for the white man to rule over me”.

But this unquestioning obedience is called into rebellion when his beloved daughter Sindiswa, a committed young struggle activist, goes missing in exile. Kondile’s search leads him to Lesotho and grim discoveries of betrayal that shatter forever his own “complicity of silence”, committing him to an irrevocable path of no return.

Originally published by UKZN Press, I Speak to the Silent has been included in the new Picador Africa Classics Series where it has been made available as an e-book.

Nyoka has shared an excerpt from his book on his personal website. Read it to get a taste of this exceptional title:

Chapter 1

On a rainy day in my fifth year in prison, I received a note from a Mr John Smith. He wanted to meet with me. I could see the ocean, dark and brooding. The waves undulated as if excited by the falling rain and the clouds hung low and menacing. I was deep in thought, my mind swirling with sad memories. I had received similar requests before. At first they would send a sudden gust, a ripple of excitement, through my body. Later, they became a source of annoyance and irritation.

A young coloured warder brought the note to me. He was very polite. He must have been new. Politeness was rare in prison. The warders mostly believed that to handle animals effectively you must be one yourself. I was consequently terrified of them. Their moods ranged from indifferent to callous, and their behaviour, from strange to downright wicked. The prison jungle that was our home could pollute the mind and soul of even the most decent human being. Some of the warders enjoyed using their batons.

Book details


Please register or log in to comment