The Writers Write Interview – Siphiwo Mahala


The Author? Siphiwo Mahala
Meaning of name? Gift and Free
Birthday? 26 October
The Venue? 10 Bompas Road, Dunkeld, Johannesburg
The Date? 08 October 2011
The Book? African Delights

Q & A

If love were a colour, what colour would it be? Yellow
What is the colour of anger? Red
What is the colour of money? Green
What is the colour of beauty? Brown
What is the colour of desire? Blue
If your life were a city, what city would it be? Grahamstown
What is the number you associate with reading? 2
What is the number you associate with writing? 3
What is your favourite number? 3 The first house I lived in was number 3

Writing Sense

  • Writing sounds like silence
  • Writing looks like the footpath of a cockroach
  • Writing tastes like muffins
  • Writing smells like a new book
  • Writing feels like freedom

In your novel…

If Sophiatown, the setting of your novel in four different eras, were a country, it would be Mauritius because it has slums and hotels – contrast
Where would it shop? Makro – where you get everything
Sophiatown sounds like a musical
Sophiatown looks like a book
Sophiatown tastes like muffins – fluffy, delicious, delight
Sophiatown smells like baking, fresh muffins, magwinya (sweet cakes)
Sophiatown feels like something I don’t know

More Q & A

What is your favourite meal? Prawns

What are you reading? Hear Me by Thando Mgqolozana. I’ve read it three times so that I can go directly to the page if someone asks me a question about the book.

Where do you live? Pretoria

Why do you live there? Because I work there.

How has living there affected your writing? It’s quiet, like living in an old age village. Time to write.

What is your favourite quality about yourself? I am not the most qualified person to say.

What is your least favourite quality about yourself? When I start something I cannot stop until I finish what I am doing. My wife sometimes puts her foot down and reminds me that I am a father.

Do you have a favourite quote? Not really.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? I set my goals and I achieve them. My goal was to write my book in two years. I wanted to celebrate my ten years of writing. I started in 2001 – writing short stories.

How did you come up with the titles of your books?

  1. When a Man Cries – came out of asking questions. Does crying make you less of a man. Feeling of pain and agony.
  2. African Delights – Wanted something fun and delightful. These two books had different emotions.

Who designed the covers? The publisher. I gave the concept. The model was a friend. I wanted him to wear a suit which links with the first story in the book.

If your hero were an animal, what animal would he be? Jackal

If he were a city, what city would he be? Cape Town. It can change just like that, like the weather. Dynamic.

Why did you choose to write this particular book? It was a tribute to many things – celebration of 10 years writing, celebrate literary influences, celebrate the story.

What was the hardest part about writing this book? I can’t think of any. Writing this was fun.

Mini-Bucket List?

  1. Continue writing.
  2. Get Phd -I currently have a Masters degree in African literature

When you stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? ‘How did all of this get into my head?’

About the book

African Delights begins in the Sophiatown of the 1950s.

The prose takes the reader to the emergency years of the eighties, where we see the painful rhythms of a society in distress through the eyes of a child.

The transitional period of the nineties is reflected through the life of a young man, who has to confront the complexities of the new South Africa while carrying baggage of the old era.

The realities of our society, after the first decade of our democracy, make up the last part of the book.

African Delights explores the social fabric of contemporary South Africa. The stories collectively create a dialogue between the past and the present and also between various literary and historical texts.

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The Interviewer? Ulrike Hill