The Real Deal Book Review: “A Man Who Is Not A Man”
The controversial topic of traditional circumcision has been very much in the news in South Africa. This powerful first novel recounts the personal trauma a young Xhosa initiate after one circumcision gone wrong. With frankness and courage the author details the pain and life-long shame that is experienced as a result of not just the physical trauma, but the social ostracism of being labeled “a failed man”. He decodes the values and mysteries of this deep-seated cultural tradition and calls to account the elders for the disintegrating support systems that allow such tragic outcomes to happen. But it is also through this life changing experience that his protagonist is forced to find his strength and humanity, and reassess what it really means to be a man.
Both Mgqolozana and Mahala reiterated that A Man Who is Not a Man is not a “for or against” story about circumcision, but one that creatively explores the underlying issues and poses questions as to a “way forward”.