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It's Me, Marah
IT’S ME, MARAH
MARAH TEBOHO LOUW
ISBN 978 1 928337 37 9
Autobiography - an account of a person's life written by that person, the dictionary says.
But opinion about what should go into an autobiography seems to be as opposed as the north from the south.
Should the subject be choosy about what aspects of their lives go into the book, and which version should win the day?
Marah Louw has written the story of her life. Her way.
Now one thing about this veteran entertainer is that she speaks her mind, more often than not, mouthing off before really engaging her mental gears.
This book is Marah in print. This is her old brash self. Guns blazing.
Anything less would have been disingenuous.
She writes at length about her lovers, naming them; household names, the men are.
Fellow entertainer Thapelo Mofokeng, her childhood sweetheart, does not come out smelling of roses in the book. The #MenAreTrash campaign should look no further than him for a poster boy, based on Marah’s account of their abuse relationship.
One well-known arts journalist refers to the social media excerpts as typical of the black PhD - pull him down - syndrome. What Marah writes is, in the opinion of Sandile Memela, airing dirty linen in public.
But were his views gospel, the art of biography would be suffocated as only vanished versions would be allowed onto the pages of the book.
Another arts scribe, Sam Mathe takes umbrage at the thought that Marah had fulfilled that criterion of the autobiography being necessarily a no-holds-barred account, the chance to tell everything - warts and all.
Mathe insists ‘warts and all’ is a myth.
But the writer would have failed the crucial test of writing in this genre which demands that one writes about one’s life, not some aspects of one’s life.
It is Mathe’s view that typical of human nature, the subject has been selective about her warts and all. This borders on an accusation, a charge of untruth.
But then again those feeling disparaged by Marah’s account of the incidents know well that they have recourse to the law.
But the book is Marah-esque, from start to finish.
She is one of those children who grew up thinking her grandparents were their parents. Trublue, her sister - who died of her injuries after being doused with petrol and then set alight by a live-in lover, was actually her mother.
Later in life as she embarked on this journey to rediscover her true self, she meets her father. Again the masters of convention would be quick to criticise her approach to the man, Simana August Binca.
It is belligerent.
The book ends with her vowing to cut him off her life when she began this journey of discovery herself.
What was the point, you may ask?
But this is just Marah being herself.
She talks of her divorce from Bill Thomson, the Scotsman she married at the height of her stardom.
This marriage affords her the chance to reflect on Apartheid South Africa, from the point of view of one who married across the colour bar. She felt the pinch - she was wearing the shoe.
A township girl from Mzimhlophe, albeit with rural roots in the Herschel/Sterkspruit area - like most urban dwellers, she finds time to cast a glance on such topics as gangsterism under the Hazels and random acts of racism that peppered black lived experiences.
She writes of being betrayed by another lover, choirmaster George Mxadana. These are not pleasant episodes in anybody’s language. But Marah throws modesty out the window and relates these bad experiences in plain language.
She’s had a full life as a singer, actress and all round entertainer. From touring the world in musicals, singing for the Queen and Nelson Mandela, being a judge on talent scout shows like Shell Road to Fame and Idols SA to acting in the popular TshiVenda drama Muvhango, she tells it as it is.
Written with smatterings of local languages, this is a great contribution to the canon of literature on local showbiz. Posterity will thank her later for this effort.
It is loud, fast-paced and streetwise. Anything else would have been tantamount to taking the reader for a ride.
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