Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

Madumo: A Man Bewitched

with 2 comments

Adam Ashforth

Stupid plug
Rating: Decent
Read: December 2005

I’m unsure how to categorize this one. It was required reading for my Apartheid & After class. The main issue? Witchcraft.

Really, this book is an account of modern South Africa’s struggle with a tradition and supernaturally intrinsic past and its modern present. Madumo is a young man living in the townships (poor settlements outside of main towns, aka shantytowns) with aspirations of going to university. He’s fallen on some very rough times, however; his mother passed away and his brother accused him of killing her via witchcraft. Madumo has been kicked out of his home, no longer has the money to pay for his schooling, and is not inclined to get a job… were there any jobsto be found. After years of resistance, he has come to believe that he must be cursed.

Adam Ashforth, the narrator, is a burly Australian who teaches at an American University and travels regularly to SA. He is friends with Madumo and gives a rather fair and accurate account of what happens- as well as any outsider can. As Western readers, we have to suspend out disbelief a bit.

Cuz, see, on the one hand, no one believes in witchcraft. (A statement can also mean that they don’t believe in doing it, as in it’s immoral.) But on the other, watch out.

It was very interesting for my class and sparked some good discussion. I’m not sure if I would have read it on my own; it’s not particularly gripping, as Adam often isn’t directly involved in the most active scenes and has to hear about them second-hand, which he then passes on third-hand.

However, if you’re interested in Africa, it’s traditions, modernity v. tradition, or just like to look cultured, go for it.

And I’m telling up front that Ashford it a big dude- we didn’t and all us girls were disappointed because we’d pictured him as a reedy little thing and suddenly his appeal evaporated. Go forth with this knowledge in mind and let me know if it makes a difference to how you perceive Adam as a reliable narrator.


Written by Shen

December 29, 2005 at 12:59 am

2 Responses

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  1. Can I ask for what school?


    November 24, 2007 at 8:52 am

  2. Did he told you what was is the main fabrication in the book?


    April 10, 2018 at 10:04 pm

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