Vhusiku Vhutswu (Darkest Night in Tshivenda) is a Tshivenda youth novel written by Gold Sanlam Prize winner for Youth Literature and M-Net Literary Prize winner in the Tshivenda category, Tsireledzo Mushoma. Tsireledzo first broke into the literary world with the publication of a short story as part of a POWA anthology in 2005. She has since gone on to write another Tshivenda youth novel, titled Nne na Inwi, and a romance novel, titled The Bridesmaid’s Lover.
This particular book, set in a rural village in Venda Limpopo, revolves around the disappearance of 16 year old Vusani Kwinda. After Vusani goes missing the villagers start a search party and eventually find her dead body in a field. The murder mystery leads to unrest in the village as they try to solve it and though the main plot is seemingly a murder investigation, the author uses themes like xenophobia, poverty and transactional sex to build suspense for the shocking revelation at the end.
As much as the book is fictional, it highlights the plight of girls in poor communities. It also touches on the complex relationship between poverty, ignorance and resentment of foreign nationals who find refuge in South African communities and make something of themselves. It’s relatable. I like Tsireledzo’s writing style, she’s an amazing storyteller. There’s a lot of suspense and I kept wondering what would happen next.
I was REALLY disappointed by the ending. I don’t think the killer’s motive is good enough. The writer could have been more creative in coming up with a motive that would make us understand and sympathize with the killer. But the motive did not warrant the killer’s actions, it just wasn’t good enough.
I would recommend this book to young girls because there’s a lot they can take away from it and it’s also good practice for their language skills (I didn’t realize just how poor my Tshivenda has become till I read this.)
You can also check out the video review I did with NBPublishers below:
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