Memories of Soweto

Title: Postcards from Soweto

Title: Postcards from Soweto

Author: Mokone Molete

Publisher: Jacana Media

Reviewer: Namhla Tshisela

Works by black authors are usually misinterpreted as chronicles of an imagined "collective" black experience.

Postcards from Soweto could easily fall into that trap. But author Mokone Molete shatters that misconception early in his book of anecdotes about his childhood in the world's most famous township, Soweto.

"This collection is not a socio-historical treatise on the lives of black people in the townships," he points out in the introduction.

He relies on memory and a little creative licence to recreate his life in Soweto.

Interestingly, his own experiences feature inconspicuously in the book.

Instead, Postcards from Soweto is dominated by myriad colourful characters who obviously made an indelible impression on the author.

They are archetypal and their experiences may sound familiar to the reader.

One of the experiences that I related to was the author's sister's rendition of a popular song. Instead of singing "I got dreams to remember", she would belt "I got dreams, I got dreams, to Miranda".

It reminded me of the time my friends and I would studiously listen to music tapes so we could exchange faulty lyrics written in our "music books".

Though Molete lived through apartheid, his recollections are without bitterness and anger. Instead, the memoirs are funny and pleasant to read.

Postcards from Soweto is nostalgic without being sentimental. It leaves the reader yearning for more, because in just under 100 pages, it ends too abruptly. I was left pining for a sequel.

Molete was born in Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg. His family was one of those uprooted to another historic black township, Diepkloof, in the 1950s.

Postcards from Soweto is his first book.