A narrative of rape, power, politics et al
An unidentified male, reeking of alcohol worms his way into her bedroom, undresses her and forces himself upon her. He comes. He leaves.
Leaving behind a distraught reverend who has since that Saturday, November 16, this year, taken it upon herself to speak publicly about this ordeal and how “men must stop seeing women as sex objects”.
At I’solezwe lesiXhosa newspaper we regularly received WhatsApp messages alerting us to this or that elderly woman being raped. Most happened in the villages of Centane, others in Willowvale, Mqanduli while Mt Fletcher and the Alfred Nzo District were more prevalent.
Every time we came across these reports, I would often question myself on the nature of rape. Is it really about power or is it about ejaculation?
The quest to come or relieve oneself in someone else? Could it be that what we term rape could in actual fact be a sickness? The desire to be inside ANY woman, by any force necessary, overrides all inhibitions.
These questions came rushing back to my mind as I read Nomawele Njongo’s new book, Abortion by the Womb of Democracy. One might remember Nomawele as the parliamentary intern that brought down the ANC’s chief whip, Mbulelo Goniwe, in 2006. Perhaps saying she brought him down would be unfair seeing as it was Goniwe himself who brought himself down by inviting a pregnant 21 year old to his Acacia Park home and tried to get his way with her.
The book not only details the Goniwe encounter but also delves into two other instances in which the author “survived” rape attempts.
It is a book that tries to go deep into the psyche of gender-based violence as well as what men in power put women through in workspaces.
The book is not entirely about rape and gender-based violence; it is also an insider account of how power works within the ANC. It narrates the role of women in the ANC and the behaviour of men within the ANC.
It is in Chapter 13 of the book, where Nomawele details how she was fired from the ANC by then secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Here you get the image of Mantashe as what can only be termed as “krwada” in Xhosa. Uncouth, raw and mean-spirited.
It also becomes evident that were it not for Vytjie Mentor, who was the ANC caucus chairperson back then, Nomawele’s story would have gone nowhere. Disciplinary processes took place. Goniwe, the “sex pest”, left and Nomawele managed to stay on until June 2013 where she was eventually made redundant as a result of meetings between Mantashe and Goniwe’s lawyers. Today Nomawele deems herself unemployable and “blacklisted from accessing opportunities”. She has gone back to her rural home of Lusikisiki and is trying to make ends meet with various odd jobs. To her, it has become clear that the womb of democracy is incapable of nurturing its children.
The book is available at selected bookstores or can be ordered via 079 306 1668.
* Unathi Kondile is the former editor of I’solezwe lesiXhosa