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Title: Sangoma Boy
Author: Penny, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0001 2410 3061
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2017
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'Sangoma Boy' is the first book in an intended four-book series. The series is about three children who are brought together because of their parents' romantic involvement and who, by the end of the first book, come to identify themselves as 'The Bundu Bashers'. The idea for the Bundu Bashers series came to me when I was visiting at my parents' house in Cape Town, South Africa, in January, 2008. I had a newborn daughter who had to be breastfed every three hours as well as a ferociously jealous toddler son in tow, so my movements were pretty limited. It was a little difficult to go out to see childhood friends but lots of people dropped by to say hello and share a 'braai' (or barbecue) which is what you do just about every evening in the South African summer. One evening, one of these informal braai parties included Julia Raynham, my mother's goddaughter. I offered her some meat from the braai and she said yes, but not mutton because she was a sangoma now and there was a restriction on eating mutton. To say I was astonished is an understatement. A sangoma is a traditional African healer and diviner, versed in the arcana of plant medicine and spirit intercession. But Julia? My mother's goddaughter, no less? She was a whitey, just like me. We used to dive spoons together out of her parents' vast and twinkling swimming pool under the oak trees, in our walled-off privileged white childhood during apartheid. How could she possibly be a sangoma? Admittedly I'd been a bit busy in England with starting a career and squeezing out the babies, but the last time I saw Julia she was a keyboardist in a popular lounge band, The Honeymoon Suites, we used to go and bop to on Friday nights. I knew that she had been ill and I knew her long-term relationship had ended. But a sangoma? After a lengthy talk that night I understood a little better what Julia had been through since I saw her last. One doesn't chose to become a sangoma - one gets chosen. The first signs of being chosen are not pleasant, and usually include illness or affliction. With Julia, it was an onset of numbness in her legs, followed by a host of other complaints. Whilst in the grip of the illness, the sufferer sometimes has a vision, where they will be told to go to a certain house or place, or sometimes they just unexpectedly come into contact with a sangoma. Julia dreamt she needed to go to an art gallery in Johannesburg. At this stage she knew nothing about sangomas but the dream was so compelling that she did visit the gallery. At the gallery, a black cleaner put down her bucket and mop, walked over to Julia and asked her if she had been unwell recently, and experiencing peculiar dreams. This is the beginning of 'ukuthwasa' - the long period of training before the 'thwasa' (the initiate) emerges as a diviner. I mulled the whole thing over in the long night that followed while I was up feeding my daughter. So white people could be 'thwasana' now? That got me thinking. What if you were a person who was mixed-race, both white and black, with roots in Africa but living in England? And you experienced the calling? No wait, what if you were a child? In England? No, in Finchley specifically. Because we'd moved to leafy Finchley from gritty Hornsey, a year and a half before on account of my son. The children of Finchley were all over the place all the time. I could watch them and see what they did. And propped up there in the pillows of the bed with my little girl, I had a William Goyen moment. I'd never written a children's novel before. I didn't know if I could. But I knew I was due back at work in a few months. At that point I'd get the baby on a bottle, I'd hire a nanny, and I'd start stealing whatever bits of time I could to write. I had an adult novel to finish but as soon as that was off to the publishers, my whole attention for years to come was going to turn to this young boy in Finchley and exactly what happened to him.
Supervisor: Evaristo, B. ; Kinnings, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Western ; Biomedicine ; Ukuthwasa ; Children's