When the Village Sleeps

Sindiwe Magona

Age 16 +
03 May 2021


‘All the way to school, and all day long, the same thought kept turning and turning in Busi’s mind. He will not forget my birthday. It is also his. No way could he forget his own birthday. Surely he remembers he shares it with me, his beloved daughter. We spoke about it during our weekly "visits", as he calls our scheduled Sunday afternoon telephone talks. And today is not any old ordinary birthday, either. THIRTEEN! I am a teenager at last. Certified, verified, glorified.

Should I call him? No, it is a special day for me: he must call first!

Thina sobabini? We two? We jive!

Except, that whole long day, no call came from her father.’

When the Village Sleeps is a visionary novel about what the loss of identity and dignity do to a people afflicted by decades of brokenness. Told through the lives and spirits of four generations of amaTolo women, including The Old, who speak wisdom with ever-increasing urgency, it moves between the bustling township setting of Kwanele and the different rhythms of rural village life. It recalls the sweeping sagas of the great A.C. Jordan and the Dhlomo brothers and invokes the poetry of S.E.K. Mqhayi, while boldly exploring urgent and contemporary issues. An ode to the complex strengths of South African women, When the Village Sleeps is also a powerful call to respect the earth that nurtures human life, and to live in self-sufficiency and harmony with the environment and each other.