Author, lecturer, researcher, globetrotter, philanthropist and blogger…all applicable. Meet the woman behind the novel that a whole generation of women fell in love with, The Y In yOUR Man Is Silent, Yvonne Maphosa. Born in Tshelanyemba in Matopo and raised in the village of Mambale in Mangwe District to be the Go-Getter that she is today by her mother, Yvonne was always destined to live out loud. We catch up with this firebrand for more on the many facets that make her to the woman she is today….
I had a very beautiful childhood. My parents and siblings treated me like a princess, still do, and they went all out to give me the world. Being the lastborn in a big family has its perks. I was born in Tshelanyemba in Matobo and spent most of my early years in the village of Mambale, deep in Mangwe District. I was shipped off to boarding school in primary, so I ended up in Sacred Heart, Esigodini. I moved to Plumtree for high school and later relocated to Bulawayo for NUST. I guess I was always a globetrotter from the day I was born.
If I had to pick one hero, it would be my mother. She was the pure definition of a feminist and a go-getter. She made me believe it was possible to have it all and that’s the mentality I carry till this day. She got her degrees in record time. She was promoted to Headmistress. She helped all of us with our homework and still had time to cook and put all of us to bed before doing her own studying. She was always there at every Consultation and Prize giving day, cheering us on. She turned her pay days into celebrations and she took us on family vacations. She was the best mother to the six of us and the best wife any man could ask for (According to my father). But what really shaped us was how she made it a point to affirm us as often as possible. She made us dream big and believe we could do anything. She made us confident in ourselves and in our abilities. She defied all stereotypes in that village and I can only aspire to be half the woman she was, still is.
Life is generally easier in South Africa because the economy is in a better place. Things are relatively cheaper, basic needs are available, systems work better, salaries are relatively decent, there are more recreational facilities and more opportunities. Things just work. So naturally, life in South Africa is much easier than in Zimbabwe. Cape Town has everything I love. The nature, oceans, extreme sports, luxury, kasi vibes, a touch of Zimbabwean when feeling home sick, tranquillity, vibrant nightlife. It has everything. And driving out for a few hours leads to magical places. I love it here.
I always hated how most books ended and I would whine about it, so my mother would tell me to write my own ending. So I started writing my own endings of novels until I realised I just wanted to tell my own stories from the beginning. My mother was my biggest cheerleader and as a teacher by profession, she shared my love for books. Throughout high school I was writing novels and pretending to be a renowned bestselling author. Also, I have an overactive mind that’s always racing with ideas and dreams, so writing is one way to ground it.
I love the fact that if someone annoys me, I can put them in my story and kill them.
I love the freedom of expressing myself unreservedly and unapologetically.
I love that whenever I’m in pain, I can bleed on paper and whenever I’m happy, I can dance on words and make a reader out there laugh and feel good.I love that I can lay down my thoughts in my own way and at my own pace, and because it’s fiction, no one can tell me they are wrong.
I love creating my own worlds and wandering in fantasy, reality is boring.
I tailored the story using material from my surroundings, my thoughts and the lives and circumstances of those around me. I set the story at my university and borrowed the main character, Fierce, parts of myself. I gave her my job, my PhD journey, my laboratory and even allowed her to be a Zimbabwean based in Cape Town, like yours truly. I even lent her some of my thoughts, but I’m not interesting enough to be a story so to give it that zing, I borrowed parts of people I know and situations I’ve lived through, seen, heard of and imagined. I knitted all the bits and pieces together and came up with The y in yOUR Man is Silent. Different parts of Fierce represent different women. I didn’t want a perfect character. I wanted a real human being and that’s what Fierce is.
I needed an escape from my academic life. My brain was working overtime and I really needed a break. I was deep in my PhD, I had just started lecturing and freelancing as a researcher, I had a lot going on. I needed a breather. Normally I would take a vacation but I didn’t have time so I took a vacation in my head – in the form of a story. Since I had two jobs and full-time studies, I had very limited time for writing. So every coffee break in the Lab and on my phone before bed, I would write something. And months later, voila! I had The y in yOUR Man is Silent.
I drew inspiration from my village, Mambale. I imagined myself living there a century ago. What I thought it would be like, how the patriarchy would suffocate me, how I would rebel, how I would question everything and more, is what I put down in that book. The main character, Lwezi, is an imaginary me in the last century. And of course, I would have had a hot boyfriend with a good head on his shoulders, that’s why I gave Lwezi Ngqabutho. To take it up a notch, as a Christian, I imagined what it would be like if I had an ancestral calling. African traditional religion and the reverence of ancestors is a topic I’m passionate about, so I delved into that as well.
My books are available in all major bookstores and many online platforms like Takealot.com, in South Africa. They are also available in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Botswana. The rest of the world buys them from Amazon.
I know it’s cliché but it’s God for me. I’m God’s favourite. I’ve mastered multitasking without burning out. When it gets too much and I’ve spread myself too thin, I hand over the reins to God and go on vacation to relax. I don’t help God! He is more than able on His own. I also don’t like sleeping; it’s a glitch in my system. There are days I don’t sleep at all, so I guess I have more hours in a day to get a lot of things done. Above all, I’m very kind to myself. I allow myself as much play time as work time, if not more. Having targets, daily To-Do list and deadlines also helps me get things done on time.
Only 3? I have read hundreds of books that deserve to be on the list.
Animal Farm – George Orwell
A Game of Thrones series – George R.R. Martin
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series – J.R.R. Tolkien
A son of the soil – William Katiyo
Spud series – John van de Ruit
Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
Pucón, Chile. I want to bungee jump into the active Villarrica volcano. The thought of plunging head-first towards a giant pit of bubbling, flaming, red-hot lava is so exciting, I can’t wait to do it.
I don’t usually think much of the future because it’s easy to get lost in things that haven’t happened and drown in anxiety, and forget living in the present. I love being present. But in the broader scheme of things, I envision a future where women are completely free to be, to do and to say what they want without society gagging them. A world where a woman’s biggest ally is a woman and where more people realise that happiness is an inside job, and it will never come from seeking validation from the masses. A world where everyone is so content with their own lives, they don’t have time to concern themselves with those of others.
Many people will have opinions about your life but that should be none of your concern. Focus on yourself and be true to yourself always, that’s the easiest way to go through life. Your dreams are yours, and only you can accomplish them. You have it in you to be what you want to be, if only you could shut out external noise. Life is not a group assignment, neither is it a competition. Be confident in the pursuit of your dreams, and whatever you do, don’t speak ill of yourself. You are all you really have so put yourself on a pedestal and believe in yourself. Your dreams are valid.
By: Chido Kakora