The land was quiet, peaceful, and very pleasing to my eyes. I liked the colours, the shapes of the mountain-tops, the way the shadows from the clouds fall and move across the mountains so everything is always changing. Everywhere I could smell wild sage. I like the wild sage and clean mountain wind, the colours of the wildflowers: bright blue, deep yellow, or maybe red and orange like flames of the fire. I like the sounds, the birds and the crickets, the waterfall near the house, the music of sheep-bells and cow-bells, the silence. Most of all I like the silence.
So Mpho M'Atsepo Nthunya describes the Maluti area of Lesotho, where she goes with her husband to live after police violence in South Africa becomes too much of a threat for them to raise a family safely there. It is not often that you read the autobiography of someone who is at once astonishing and ordinary. Mpho M'Atsepo Nthunya is both. On one hand, she is a cleaning woman at a guest house in a university in Lesotho, often unable to feed her grandchildren from paycheck to paycheck. On the other hand, she is a strong, wise woman who speaks 8 languages, including Afrikaans and English, Xhosa and Zulu. Singing Away the Hunger: The Autobiography of an African Woman is the story, or more accurately a collection of stories, of her life. An American Fullbright Scholar--a writer and actress and grandmother herself--met Mpho M'Atsepo Nthunya at the guest house and as she got to know her, realized that this was someone who could tell the world about life in little Lesotho--a place most Americans can't find on a map. She convinced the author to publish the stories with her help in navigating the world of publishing. These are well-told stories--about hardship, about love of place, about family, about rivalry, and hatred, and forgiveness. They are tales of an impoverished nation and the struggles of its people on a daily basis. They are the story of what change in South Africa has meant to its neighbors. But more than anything, they are the story of a smart, strong, patient, wise woman who loves her family and works hard to give them a life they can survive. I'm very glad to have joined the Great African Reads Group here on Goodreads, or I would never have found it and learned so much from my day Singing Away the Hunger.