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Singing Away the Hunger: The Autobiography of an African Woman
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Singing Away the Hunger: The Autobiography of an African Woman

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A compelling and unique autobiography by an African woman with little formal education, less privilege, and almost no experience of books or writing. Mpho's voice is a voice almost never heard in literature or history, a voice from within the struggle of "ordinary" African women to negotiate a world which incorporates ancient pastoral ways and the congestion, brutality, an ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by Indiana University Press (first published September 1st 1996)
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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
“I dream that this book will go far, and tell people about the Basotho, how it is with us, how poor we are and how we go on with life anyway.”

This is an unusual memoir, consisting of the stories of a poor woman from Lesotho, matriarch of a large family, who works as a cleaning lady to feed her many children and grandchildren. Though she speaks seven or eight languages and attended some school as a teenager, she spent all of her adult life busy with manual labor and raising children and is essent
...more
K.
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I created this book collaboratively with Mpho Nthunya, who does not actually read and write. She dictated the story to me, and I wrote it down for her, read it back to her, and edited it according to her instructions. I think it's the best thing I've done so far.
Beth
The land was quiet, peaceful, and very pleasing to my eyes. I liked the colours, the shapes of the mountain-tops, the way the shadows from the clouds fall and move across the mountains so everything is always changing. Everywhere I could smell wild sage. I like the wild sage and clean mountain wind, the colours of the wildflowers: bright blue, deep yellow, or maybe red and orange like flames of the fire. I like the sounds, the birds and the crickets, the waterfall near the house, the music of sh ...more
Marieke
This book is unusual in several respects: it is a type of memoir/autobiography (as told to someone) but it is non-linear. The point of view is that of a poor black woman from Lesotho who only finished primary school (yet speaks EIGHT languages)--not the typical memoir from the more educated or even elite class of Africans to which we in the West have become accustomed when trying to learn more about life in Africa. Also, it was translated by the author, Mpho Nthunya, in the sense that she transl ...more
Alice
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pretty amazing that women's lives are so different around the world - the author lives they way millions of unseen, unheard women live. It really puts my problems in perspective - she feels rich during those times in her life when she has enough food for all her children and a nice blanket to wear/sleep under. Have to try to remember this next time the slowness of my computer at work is frustrating me.
Canedy
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book contains wonderful and heart breaking stories about life in Lesotho, Africa. The storyteller, M'pho, creates a vivid and unique picture of her world and her difficult and joyous journey through it that shows her strength and acceptance of life in southern Africa.
Jim
Dec 19, 2008 rated it liked it
I have a bias in reviewing this book as the editor - Kathryn Kendall - is a friend of mine. While on a Fulbright in Lesotho, she became friendly with one of the local women and took notes as the woman told stories of what her life had been like while eking out a living in Africa. Care was taken to preserve the stories "as told" and one gains an appreciation of the hardships as well as the joys. A quick read of a couple of hours, but well worth the time.
Susan
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
In my effort to read books from around the world written by local authors I chose this from amazon. My husband worked in Lesotho and we went there a few years ago with our sons for a holiday. My husband commented that it had changed and there were a lot more trees than there had been which is a positive. Since Prince harry has raised the awareness of this country I think things have been looking up.

This book was told orally to a university lecturer ho befriended Mpho 'M'atsepo Nthunya in Lesotho
...more
Tinea
Aug 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: auto-biography, place
An interesting memoir of a Lesotho woman (farmer, mother, lover, domestic worker, and octolingual wordsmith) dictated to an artist/actress/professor from the US. The two edited the volume together over many hours of oral read-back so Mpho ensured all the writing remained in her narrative voice. The book is deceiving in that its rarity-- the autobiography of a poor Lesothan woman-- normalizes her account, leaving readers to assume hers is a representative life history, when in fact the book is an ...more
Judy
Sep 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Around the Worlders
Recommended to Judy by: Beth/52
Singing Away the Hunger: The Autobiography of an African Woman is or a nice look at Lesotho through the eyes of a Basothan lady. The means available to Lesothans to provide for their families is limited: work in hazardous mines or seek work in South Africa. Mpho M'atsepo chronicles the story of her life: the loves, hardships, hunger and heartbreaks.

The narration alternates between different periods of her life which confused at times. She also changes tenses frequently during her telling. Howeve
...more
Constance
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought I knew something about Africa. I really thought I knew something about Lesotho and the other nations of South Africa. This book taught me that I really know nothing at all. Mpho Nthunya tells stories relating to her life's experiences. She knows what suffering is and she knows how to rise above it. She is a survivor. The most poignant moment for me in the book is, as she describes the death of her father, and writes: "I didn't know how to cry." As I read her stories I found that I did ...more
Larrirosser
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
M'e Mpho's voice comes through clear and strong in this remarkable memoir of life in Lethoso. Kathryn Kendall has done a remarkable job of bringing us the honest story of a different kind of life, a stark and dramatic story told without drama or sentimentality. An absorbing and thought provoking read. I immediately bought other copies to give as gifts.
Shawne
Apr 08, 2008 rated it liked it
It challenges you to open your eyes and view the world of an African woman from her own perspective. This is not a book I would normally seek out on my own, but I found it to be an eye-opening and revealing glimpse into another world, and I'm glad I read this autobiography.
Isabelbailey
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good description of life in South Africa for the poor. Interesting and fast reading.
Everett
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great autobiography.
Lindsay
Nov 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in contemporary African culture
This book is written awkwardly, but still maintains it's tragedy and honesty.
Katherine francis
Sep 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in African History
Beautiful, deeply descriptive, journal-like, insite into the struggle against apartheid in Losotho. A woman's private daily cry for justice.
Erma Odrach
Sep 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A raw, unique voice from Mpho'M'Atespo Nthunya in Africa. An insightful and wonderful biography from a woman with little formal education.
Elizabeth
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Katie Frank
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Great African Reads
Thoroughly enjoyed these simple yet captivating stories. Amazing, ordinary life!
K.
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the South African version of the book. The pages are identical. Only the cover is different.
Tammy Crompton
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Makes our lives seem so easy compared to her life.
She ra Princess of Power
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
About Lesotho by a Basotho woman. Done very well.
Veronica
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Jan 02, 2014
Caroline Strange
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Tineke Dijkstra
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Jan 07, 2011
margaret plez
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Mar 28, 2017
Elaine Polk
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Mar 08, 2016
John Brookes
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Jun 15, 2011
Sabrina Mason
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Sep 07, 2018
Matt
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Dec 17, 2018
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