Nomavenda Mathiane is a journalist who has worked for most major South African newspapers. She cut her teeth at The World during the turbulent student uprisings of 1976, and later joined Frontline magazine where she specialised in writing about life in South African townships. She has authored Beyond the Headlines and South Africa: Diary of Troubled Times.
Her latest novel, Eyes in the Night, is a young Zulu woman’s story of drama, regret, guilt and, ultimately, triumph – set against the backdrop of a Zululand changed beyond recognition. A true story almost lost, but for a chance remark at a family gathering.
Nomavenda Mathiane stumbled upon her grandmother’s story well over a century after the grueling events of the Battle of Isandlwana that formed her life. Astounded to hear how her grandmother had survived the Anglo-Zulu War as a young girl, Mathiane spent hours with her elder sisters reconstructing the extraordinary life of their grandmother. The result is a sweeping epic of both personal and political battles.
In writing the novel, Mathiane hopes to encourage young people to interrogate their family’s history. In an interview with Jennifer Platt of the Sunday Times (republished in Books Live) she stated:
Young children, both black and white, must question their parents, their grandparents: where do we come from? You cannot know where you are going, if you don’t know where you come from. It’s time that we told our own narratives. This is the first book of the victims of the Ango-Zulu War. Nobody has ever written about what ordinary Zulu people went through. I would implore you to talk to your children.
Mathiane has promoted Eyes in the Night on SAfm’s Literature Show and will appear at the Open Book Festival in 2017.