Ngcobo honours rural women in latest offering

The rural community of Ixopo, where Lauretta Ngcobo was born and brought up, is described in her latest novel, And They Didn't Die.

The rural community of Ixopo, where Lauretta Ngcobo was born and brought up, is described in her latest novel, And They Didn't Die.

Ngcobo is the winner of the 2006 South African Literary Award (Sala) in the lifetime achievement category.

Sala is a project of the Arts and Culture Department, wRite Associates, Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building. The award recognises, acknowledges and honours South Africa's literary icons and it also encourages an appreciation and preservation of literature.

In her new book, Ngcobo praises all unsung heroines - rural women - whose struggles and complexities in harsh environments were compounded by the hardships of apartheid.

Ngcobo writes about a woman called Lauretta, whose husband was at the heart of the struggle against apartheid. The writer relates how the young woman was "married" to the man and the struggle.

In 1963, Ngcobo left South Africa to avoid arrest. She went into exile with her husband and children. The family lived in Swaziland and Zambia and finally settled in England where she taught for 25 years.

In 1994, she returned to South Africa. Currently, she is a member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature.

Ngcobo started writing soon after leaving South Africa. Her first book, Cross of Gold, was published in 1981.

She says about Cross of Gold: "I was contemplating what had catapulted my life into exile and how it had all come about."

Let it be Told recounts the turbulent thoughts of black women writers in Britain in the 1980s.

Ngcobo says writing for children gave her the greatest challenge.

She has also written and published many academic papers, delivered papers in various universities and travelled extensively as a consequence.

Of Ngcobo's latest book, And They Didn't Die, Mazisi Kunene writes: "This is the most enlightened and balanced book written by a woman who is African and who understands clearly the circumstances of African women, their history and their personal anguish."

Lauretta Ngcobo's photograph and her brief profile was sourced from the website of KwaZulu-

Natal's literary tourism.

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