June 8, 2014

Ishmael Mzwandile Soqaga Reviews Matshidiso Taleng’s book, SECRETS

Filed under: free state black literature,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 4:44 am

Inasmuch as it has been argued by critics of African literature that Africa is essentially a male-dominated continent, what is more interesting about the argument is that women are viewed by many as worthless and less influential on issue that affects them on the daily basis. For instance, in literature many serious questions have been asked. As how far African female writers have made a valuable impact in expressing consequential issues that are congruous to them? Some African literary pundits are strongly convinced that African female writers are not feminist enough to ventilate issues that are pertinent to their situation.

As I drew my attention closer and closer to this argument, the book written by the young talented female bard from Mangaung (Free State) Matshidiso P. Taleng increased my hanker to get sufficient understanding about African female writers. First and foremost the most mesmerizing part in the book Secrets Anthology of Poems is the first poem “A womb”. Any reader who may be interested in the book may probably assume that the poem has the elements of feminism. However, when one finishes to read the poem, explicitly will understand that actually the writer does not intend to promote feminist ideas. But necessarily the poet embraces the pulchritude of the womb. It is a beautiful poem indeed and it reminds the audience that every living being has evolved from the womb.

“A home where every human being
Is accommodated before
Opening their eyes
A place that protects one from evil”

Another poem that buttresses that the bard is not a fundamentalist feminist is the poem “As I would be in the Street”. She appreciates and recognizes Luther King junior:

“As I would be in the streets
I would be a practical reflection of
Luther King junior
I’ll be living the dream for
I delivered the capability of my mind”

Secrets encompass many different poems that focus on different subjects. Other poems emphasized randy lifestyle. The poet armed with intellect, honestly and directly evinces this romantic moment in her book of poems with gusto. No sign of coy or recreant is found in these poems, in the real sense they are rapturous and breathtaking. In the meantime, the poet has brilliantly displayed how mature she is to provide narrative poems. Also at the same time you may find that the poems are autobiographic. In “I Miss You” a poem dedicated to Matshidiso’s boyfriend, certainly you will be overwhelmed in how she expresses herself poetical.

“My life is empty
I’m surrounded by the voiceless screams
I refuse to cry, instead… nurse the hurt and
Anger at the betrayal
I can’t believe I’ll never hear your voice
Whispering sweet love poems into my ear
Let alone see myself in your arms again”

Another poem of this kind is “Sudden Death” dedicated to her late friend: Matsoso Innocent Pelebe (Tsoso).

Furthermore, poems such as Abortion as an Option, Mr Wrong, You are Just Not Him etc are very exuberant. These are poems that present the overall picture of the societal day to day life situation. As a Christian devotee surely a reader of her poems can be doubtful as to whether she is a ‘true Christian’. Fairly enough nothing depraved is found in her poems. For instance in “Abortion as an Option”, the poet narrates that:

“He sweet talked her into starting a family
Of their own, and running away together
Stupidly she agreed
When she finally had a small fetus
Growing inside her belly
He decided to run as quickly as he could
Told her that he wants nothing to do with her
Started calling her names
Telling the whole neighborhood about
The affair including her boyfriend
She had an abortion thinking that it was
The only option”

“Plastic” is an enthralling excellent poem that shows how the poet thinks about other people’s culture. Essentially, in the poem she does not hesitate or compromise her cultural belief and she expresses herself in a direct and specific way.

“In the end my baby girl
Won’t play with Barbie dolls
My baby girl will be a Barbie doll
Manufactured with a sergeant life
With hair that doesn’t grow
A face that doesn’t frown
Legs that are insured and
God knows what else
My baby girl will know self acceptance
My baby girl will know self love because
My baby girl……will be plastic.”

In fact the poem is expressing pleasant views and probably sounds like a querulous and remonstrating poem; anyway the poem is literary razzmatazz. Despite her views; the questions is whom she is addressing the poem to and what kind of audience she is anticipated to grasp the meaning of the poem? Does she address all people in the world irrespective of their races or creed? Or does she specifically target certain group of people in the society? Of course the poem “Success” is explicable that the poet is a proud African woman.

“I was born in the rural parts of my homeland
Raised by the rhythms of African drums
With so many triumphs lying ahead
They taught me self acceptance
My African beauty I can appreciate
Rhythmically with respect, discipline and compassion”

Another extraordinary and exhilarating poem that a reader will relish with euphoria is “Secrets”. Matshidiso P. Taleng is a very diligent young female poet in the Free State. Her poems are quite rapturous and consummate. Possibly it is likely that her poems can intermittently flummox the reader but that does not mean she is not assiduous and remarkable. While you may think there is a contradiction in her poetry you may at the very same time understand her as a ‘grassroots poet’. Significantly, her poems “Poetry…Let Me Speak and the Voice Within” reveals how talented the poet Matshidiso is! I do think it is quite necessary for the critics to appreciate that her poems are impressive and epitomize inspiration and hope among the grassroots people. Without any doubt she has done a very wonderful thing to create such profound and gripping poems. She deserves to be eulogized. In the very same book many compliments and appreciation have been directed to her. Hector Kunene’s introduction is awesome and prodigious as equal, as the foreword by Sebabatso Baisitse.

As we witness the great thriving moment for Matshidiso P. Taleng, simultaneously we must feel worried about women condition in Africa. Many women are experiencing predicament situation in their lives. They are the constant victims of abuse, rape, molestation and chances for them to blossom are thwarted by an unequal world where man is still predominant. Infelicitous misery and anguish that women are faced with in today’s life are unacceptable. For example, schools girls that have been kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria provides a clear evidence that patriarchal masculine world is still in dominance. Charismatic poet of the caliber of Matshidiso must be looked at with an honest interest as a symbol of literary inspiration in Africa in particular to speak out against challenges that African women faces with. Her poems are genuine and awe – inspiring, reminding me of female literary giants of Africa, like Ama Ata Aidoo, Mariama Ba, Flora Nwapa: and younger SA poetesses like Charmaine Kolwane, Nthabiseng Jah Rose etc.

“Tshidi” as she’s affectionately known is a South African young poet. She was born in the Free State Bloemfontein. Her love for art and poetry begun while she was in high school, where she was a member of a poetry club “Beyond Mind Control” (2004-2007) also had the opportunity to go recite one of her well known poem called “Plastic” at a local radio station Kovsie Fm on shakes Khumalo morning show (2006). She has been conferred with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of valuable contribution to literature in the Free-State (2009). She performed at the Vuka Poetry Festival at Pacofs (2008) and been a member of Words of Ink Writers Club at Bloemfontein Library.

12 Responses to “Ishmael Mzwandile Soqaga Reviews Matshidiso Taleng’s book, SECRETS”

  1. Omoseye Says:

    Very impressive. As captivating as this review itself is the unequivocal, scintillating talent of protagonist Ms Taleng herself

  2. Kehinde Says:

    A powerful assessment of a powerful lady poet. South Africa is at least as vibrant as Nigeria here as regards African writing. Or am wrong?

  3. Obafemi Says:

    This is interesting. It appears black women are doing well in poetry in South Africa. These days in Nigeria one hardly hears about any female writers of poems – I think the last book of poetry I saw written by a Nigerian lady was that of Lola Shoneyin

  4. Raphael Says:

    I once had the opportunity to interview poet Charmaine on literature. FS Black Writing is of fine standard as this feature again illustrates

  5. tiisetso m thiba Says:

    Great review Mr Soqaga. A review indicates that writer/poet Matshidiso Taleng is one of the female writers that touches the issues that affect woman and children in her poems. and that alone makes the woman voice to be heared. the standard of female’s in literature is growing steadly and that shows that in the next generation the number will be multiplied. impressive book indeed.

  6. Abbey Says:

    I am a real African, though I am often based in the UK. Thanks for drawing my attention to this review. The African poetry I have loved most over the years is that of Odia Ofeimun, even more than Osundare. But it’s nice to see that other talent abounds in our continent.

  7. Biggie Says:

    People must start doing their research, we have a number of female writers in SA…one of my all time favorite female writer is Antjie Krog, Afrikaans female writer…i remember some of her poems i did back in high school and fell in love with her work…Did i mention that she was born in the Free State?

  8. Matshidiso Taleng Says:

    Thank you so much Mr Soqaga for this great review, i’m really glad that you enjoyed the book and thank you all for your heart walming comments i feel humbled by all your comments. thank you.

  9. Abbey Says:

    I don’t mean to be critical, but Ms Taleng should just keep up the good job. I don’t think authors should be thanking reviewers. What if the reviewer had panned the book?

  10. Noma Says:

    Well, I have to admit, Tshidi is very strong and very talented too… I just pray that God gives her strength to wrote more books and inspire women all over the world… Big ups o a sister..

  11. Noma Says:

    …to write… (sorry for the error)

  12. Matshidiso Taleng Says:

    I don’t mean to be rude, but where i come from i was taught to thank someone when they give you a compliment.

    Thank you Noma,i pray for that strenght too and thank you for your support.