Date:19 December 2016 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
The head of the Department of Paediatric Pulmonology and Allergies at the University of Limpopo and at the Polokwane Provincial Hospital, Prof Samuel Malamulele Risenga, has just launched his autobiography.
What makes his story unique is that he has written his story, A Ri Hlanhlenkangi, in his mother tongue, Xitsonga.
It took Risenga about five years to finish the book. The writing experience was mixed with emotions because he was reliving the experiences he went through in his life. “I would at times feel sad and at times feel happy for having overcome obstacles on the way,” he said.
He decided to write his autobiography in Xitsonga because he could express himself much better in the language. “Another reason is that we need to promote our indigenous languages,” he said. “If we do not do that, these languages will slowly be forgotten. Our languages are actually very rich in expressions and these needs to be maintained.”
He said that the book showed that poverty should not be a determining factor in terms of achievements. It was possible to make it against all odds. “I would like to recommend it to the youth as it is an inspirational work,” he said.
The book was recently launched during a glittering evening at Oasis Hotel in Giyani. The launch was well attended by professionals across many fields and community members who all came to celebrate a life told on paper and told in the language of the people.
Attendees who had read the book before the launch all praised Risenga for his amazing use of the Xitsonga language in telling his story. Some even quoted from the book, while others spoke fondly about certain parts or chapters that they had found entertaining. A prominent poet and publisher, Vonani Bila, said that the significance of writing an autobiography was that one's adventures in life were preserved for posterity.
“Although not every life lived bears the same weight, it is nonetheless crucial to record each life using your own pen, so that your life is not misrepresented by secondary observers,” Bila indicated. “Of greater importance is to write in our indigenous languages, which carry the richness of cultural expression. Writing in English is a waste of ink if we consider the shortage of books in African languages.”
The director of Nhlalala Books, who published the autobiography, Mr Moses Mtileni, said that A Ri Hlanhlekangi was one of only a handful of books in the genre in the Xitsonga language, with the ones preceding it published largely pre-1994. “A Ri Hlanhlekangi is published as part of Nhlalala Books’ effort to push boundaries in the language by publishing genres neglected and experimental works in other genres,” he stated.
Those interested in A Ri Hlanhlekangi can phone the publisher at email@example.com or 0725943448.
In the photo are (from left to right) Mr Moses Mtileni, Mrs Valerie Risenga (author's wife), Prof Samuel Malamulele Risenga, and Vonani Bila.
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.