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The Kelly Khumalo story

MELINDA FERGUSON with Sarah Setlaelo 
ISBN 978 920601 
A talented God-fearing girl grows up amid the flurry of bullets. She’s left to ‘mother’ her younger sister as the real mom goes out to work to eke out a living and put food on the table. The violence gets too close for comfort and the concerned mother shunts her brood off to the bundus for safe-keeping and uninterrupted schooling. Life in the sticks is a drab for the child star in the making; she wants the city lights. In time she returns thinking she’d turned her back forever on the rural life. Unbeknownst to her, this is where she’d return – over and over again – to seek sanctuary from the ravages of city living. To escape her dirt poor background, she’s imbued with a magical voice that can take her – and her folk, to the heavens of the secular world. She hitches a ride to her first auditions in a garbage truck. After almost a year of belting out gospel tunes, she misses out on the crown by just a meager vote. She is shattered. Years later, thanks to her God-given talents, the door of stardom opens up a crack and she not only steps in one foot at a time, she heaves it wide open. She makes it, the audiences where she sings eat out of hands each time. Things are looking up. She sings; she acts. She’s a darling. But like all of humanity, she has an Achilles heel – her [near] promiscuity. She kisses all sorts of frogs and even the knight in shining armour who finally walks majestically into her life is everything but. He’s a junkie, the famous son of an infamous mother who once lied to Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton that she helped turn around the lives of young drug addicts in Soweto. She buys him a top-of-the-range Mini Cooper to release his grip on her Hummer. What he does instead with the shiny wheels is plough into schoolboys at a drug-induced breakneck speed, killing some and maiming others. The only good out of their stormy relationship is the beautiful child he sires with her. The boy child inherits the charming good looks of the bad-boy father as if to punish the mother for her gullibility. The druggie and his co-accused are punished severely for cutting short the promising lives of the scholars and reducing others to virtual cabbages.
This is the material that was at the disposal of Melinda Ferguson when she sat down to write singer Kelly Khumalo’s life story. A published author and feature writer who understood the subject of drugs and addiction well, this was tantamount to a child being let loose in a toy shop.
But whatever ‘rave reviews’ The Kelly Khumalo is going to garner, such adjectives as ‘gripping’ and the clichéd ‘unputdownable’ are not going to be used.
The Kelly Khumalo Story by Melinda Ferguson with Sarah Setlaelo should rightly have been The Melinda Ferguson and Sarah Setlaelo Stories Paraded As A Biography Of Kelly Khumalo. They are telling their own stories at her expense. This is the only book perhaps, unless Jub Jub pens his prison memoirs, where we should have been taken behind the bedroom door for a tete-a-tete between Mama Jackie and Kelly over the scourge of drugs and how they scar lives.
The book is a missed opportunity at striking a big blow against drug abuse when it was launched – ironically in the same week that Molemo Jub Jub Maarohanye, the bane of Kelly’s life, was sentenced to a hefty prison term for the schoolboy murders.
Perhaps this book should have waited for the Senzo Meyiwa saga to enrich it.
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