- Created: 13 February 2014
Martin Kobokae has found his heroes and villains in small communities, and his stories usually are about those struggling people whose triumphs over adversities are, for him, a marvel to witness.
His stories are also influenced by his environment and the conditions in which he grew up. He recalls a small township littered with tiny mudhouses with rusted tinroofs and starving dogs and populated by domestic workers and priests.
In this community a hero was not the one who led marches or who eloquently addressed political meetings, the hero was a penniless priest who allowed his church to be turned into a classroom during the week and the heroine was a mother of six who worked as a domestic but still took in four orphaned children.
In his writing he also tries to capture something of the history of the region, observing that the history of the people who lived around the area he comes from is poorly or not documented at all.
His advice to young writers in South Africa is that they write about what they know. In his opinion, there are many talented young writers in South Africa and he urges that if for example they live in the townships, they should start by writing about kwaito and soccer stars, street bashes and campus life.
His first novel, Taung Wells, released in June 2004, has been described by Adrienne Sichel of The Star, as a ‘richly textured portrait of rural life’ in a ‘narrative littered with scoundrels, unlikely heroes and ordinary people thirsting for rain’. Koboekae is busy writing his second novel.
Taung Wells, Kwela Books, 2004