|Behind Every Successful Man by Zukiswa Wanner|
|Thursday, 02 October 2008 07:41|
This beautifully told story ignites a fire in the reader, especially the female reader, creating a world where nothing is impossible. Zukiswa focuses on the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) kings and queens and celebrates their dominance and independence respectively while at the same time emphasizing the importance of a united family. Unlike The Madams, here we see the woman dismantling that stereotype that defines her first as a mother, then as a wife and finally as a professional.
It is the tale of Nobantu's struggle to find her identity and finally do something for herself and not for her mother, husband or children. Patiently, she begs for her husband's support and he unwaveringly refuses because he sees it as a sign of incompetence on his part for his wife to work. Ntsiki, her lesbian friend , tries to persuade her to follow her heart with or without her husband and after much ado, she eventually does, proving to us that still waters indeed run deep. She wakes up and packs her things, leaving behind her husband, kids and mobile phone with no contact address. That marks the beginning of her not-so-smooth journey away from her bourgeois lifestyle in Johannesburg to a simple life in Soweto pursuing her dream to create a clothe line- Soweto Uprising.
This work will be widely accepted at this time because there are a lot of women in Nobantu's shoes who have been advised by family and friends that it is better "to cry in a limousine than to laugh in a taxi", so these women hang on in their spouse's shadows and eventually die with unaccomplished dreams and sometimes no dreams at all. Once again, Zukiswa presents us with literature our society can identify with.
Womens' liberation, classism, male oppression of the female sex, domestic violence, homosexuality are some of the themes found in the novel. These are the same themes explored in The Madams, except here they are expressed very differently. She very successfully gives her characters a life of their own, even if they seem to have the same weaknesses, strengths or share the same problems, all are expressed differently. For example, Thandi and Nobantu, her two heroines in The Madams and Behind Every Successful Man, don't strike the reader like the same person although they share some things in common. A great read!
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