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Angelina N. Sithebe PDF Print E-mail

Angelina N. Sithebe Angelina Ntombizanele Sithebe was born and raised in Soweto , Johannesburg and matriculated from Inanda Seminary in Durban. A graduate geologist from Brooklyn College in New York (where she lived for a decade), Sithebe has worked in diverse fields, including human resources, scholarship administration, communications, geotechnical engineering and mining.

In 2001, Sithebe began writing full-time while studying in preparation for an Honours degree in Engineering Geology. At the end of 2004, she moved to London with her children, where she wrote her debut novel Holy Hill. The novel was well received with Radio 702's Kate Turkington calling it “one of the best pieces of African literature [that I've read]” whilst Rehana Rossouw of The Weekender wrote, “Sithebe is a geologist by training and perhaps this contributed to her ability to polish every word in her novel until they shine like gemstones.” Maureen Isaacson, in The Sunday Independent , opined: “[ Holy Hill's ] rich detail has a cumulative effect as the story moves along at quite a pace, never faltering.”

During 2006 and 2007 five of Sithebe's short stories, under the title A Target Life Series were published exclusively by They include ‘Shadows', ‘Love in Jo'burg', ‘Jobs Galore', ‘Where's My Car?' and ‘Play the Fool'.

She is currently editing the first manuscript she wrote, Red Monkey , which will be published in the near future. According to Sithebe, she derives her subjects from her dreams which she then explores psychologically and spiritually and then creates the physical character with a thoroughly researched plot to support the characters. She comments: “Writing is a blessing that I cherish. I write about subjects that I do not understand and I am curious to explore. I also write what I like to read. Writing to me is a profession that I approach seriously in a scientific manner.”

In 2014 she released Amaphupho, a dream guide in IsiZulu that took 9 years to research and write.

A divorced mother of three, Angelina Sithebe currently resides in Durban.

Twitter: @AngelinaSithebe

Extract from Holy Hill.

Returning to Holy Hill, Nana thought that she had to improve her life; there was no escape. Her first priority was to banish the fear she felt, waking every morning afraid to open her eyes to the nightmare of her life. With her pocket money of twenty rand she had bought a glowing rosary from the Roman Catholic church in Montville. She slept with a Bible under her pillow, always. Second was making sure there was food. Why couldn't the food increase like in the Bible? Nana had no answer.

Third, she needed friends.

It was not for lack of trying that Nana did not have friends. Most

of the girls said she was an insect, that's what her name sounded like and. she looked like one. 'Eh, heh, heh. Look at those long thin legs, big eyes like a cockroach in a big hollow head, very thin hair like insect hairs, or a chick bird's! Ah! ha ha ha!'

Nana just didn't fit into any of the groups. She found it hard to understand the dialects they spoke and had no one to protect her. Loneliness gave her plenty of time to consider which group she would belong to if she could.

Her first choice would have been the street-smart girls from Joburg. They spoke fast, had the trendiest, most expensive clothes, and pretended to have more money than they actually did. Their speech was punctuated with words in Afrikaans like maar - but; mos - of course; eintlik - the thing is, all in the language they said they hated. Joburg girls knew it all; they showed off with superficial gestures and meaningless exclamations: lyo, tsho, sies! They chewed fast, spoke fast, stole fast, lied fast, and went through holes in the fence fastest.

The hardest girls, the most violent physically and verbally, were those from Durban locations like KwaMashu and Umlazi. The Sisters tolerated them, but their preferred girls were from the valley and the hill girls from rural Zululand, where most of the Sisters themselves had come from. While the rural girls were obedient to the Sisters, they were tyrants in the dorms. Physically strong and obstinate, they nursed grudges, their revenge timed to hurt at the worst time.

The Sisters understood these girls. Like them they had run away from the harsh poverty in the valleys. Where their lives were totally dependent on nature, which brought droughts and floods with equal destruction. Had it not been for the Convent, they would have been stuck in small huts with no running water, their bodies soiled by the cow dung that they used for cooking and for smearing the floors and as fertiliser for the fields. The Convent meant they would never be

forced into polygamous marriages. It was their only vehicle to a secure life. The Sisters understood the valley girls who were raised under rough conditions, their faces cut to mark their clans. They were beaten, made to work like mules, fetch water and firewood and hoe the fields. Like the Sisters, they had a natural contempt for life in the city. Which, they assumed, bore the decadence of Sodom and Gomorrah. Where people moved too fast to stop and greet one another, or sit in the shade to sip water. Women in pants and immodest dresses, too tight, exposing everything secret for men to see. Men easily tempted into sin by these fast women.

Nana had found herself in a loose group with one or two girls from Swaziland and Cape Town. To fit in, she had tried to share with the others the sight she had seen of a dead Sister walking around behind the grotto in the cemetery. She had thought it was an angel. Nobody laughed or believed her; instead they started to avoid her company. Alone, afraid to walk next to the cemetery, Nana crept behind buildings. Somebody had told Sister Benedict what Nana said she had seen. Sister Benedict punished Nana for lying and saying she was seeing angels; she said sinners could not see the divine. Sister Dominic was very angry when she heard the story. She said she would report Nana to the parents for lying.


2005.  Holy Hill.  Johannesburg:  Umuzi.
2006. Three Letters Three Words. Bloomington :Trafford Publishing.

2007. Target Life Series. Seattle:

2010. The Thin Line. (contributor). Cape Town: Modjaji Books.

2011. The Edge of Things. (contributor). Johannesburg: Dye Hard Press.

2013. Africa Inside Out. (contributor). UKZN Press.

2014. Amaphupho.

Author Map (Inanda Seminary)

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Picture credit (C) HALI TSOTETSI, 2008.