Book Review: Laiah Thobejane’s ‘Just A Language’

Book Review: Laiah Thobejane’s ‘Just A Language’

“I traded a life in the city for a quest to go find those pronunciations and meanings, and my, oh my, wasn’t it a journey filled with the most epic proceedings,” reads a passage from the book ‘Just A Language’. A phrase that more or less sums up the main characters of the book experience in this debut novel.

At only twelve years of age, Laiah Thobejane can proudly call herself an award-winning author. Her debut novel is titled ‘Just A Language’ (co-authored with her twin sister Lilly) and it chronicles the life of Mosima and Salaminah, two girls born and bred in Cape Town but are thrown into an unknown land. They venture to Madikane Village in Limpopo and enrol in a local school in order to learn their father’s native tongue, Sepedi.

Book Book Review: Laiah Thobejane’s ‘Just A Language’

The narrative rings true to a number of individuals who have made the effort to reconnect with their roots and origins. Though born of a Sepedi father, the twins are often taunted on the way they speak and are not accepted as members of their community. Other challenges that the twins face include bullying and difficulty to assimilate in their new environment. The will power and sheer determination of the twins shines throughout the whole novel.

The book also serves as an important commentary piece as it highlights the many challenges that rural learners experience on a day-to-day basis. From dilapidated infrastructure to the threat of the natural world, the author highlights these issues in great detail while also making a call for positive change from stakeholders.

The book is eighty pages and shows promise from a young author who clearly has a promising literary career. The book has already won an award from the AfriCAN Authors Awards.

Kudzai Mhangwa

Kudzai Mhangwa is a writer, actor and musician. He writes poetry, plays, essays and short stories. His work has been featured on House of Mutapa, Atrebla Magazine, Ka'edi Africa, Poetry Soup and elsewhere.

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