It is rare that a story comes along that sweeps you into its heart. Painstakingly handwritten over a three year period, it is the life story of William Zulu, a linocut artist, highly acclaimed for his evocative works.
Having contracted spinal TB as a baby, William underwent misplaced corrective surgery to his spine in his late teens which left him paralysed and permanently wheelchair bound.
William's story is no victim's litany. It recounts with zest and humour the events of his life, his unfolding artistic developments and the world of deep rural Africa in which his spirit is rooted. His artist's eye paints in the details of his world with vivid observation. This book if full of disarming lapses, diverting anecdotes – such as how he acquired a car in order to travel to Johannesburg in the hope of finding there a woman who might be more willing to love someone disabled.
Weaving through the personal narrative is a strong political consciousness that sketches the fortunes of a country in violent transition, wracked by the ethnic rivalries that overshadowed every aspect of black life in the 1980s.
William Zulu's writing is informed and articulate. He has an instinctive grasp of storytelling with pace. He conveys the unrelenting hardship of rural life and offers a fascinating window to the world of traditional Africa - with all its superstition, patriarchal rigidity and prejudices on the one hand, and its humour, shrewd observance and innovative survival strategies on the other. Reading his work, one is left with a strong sense of the battles for survival that pit ingenuity against lack of resources – and of the redemptive power of 'ubuntu', demonstrated in the kindness of strangers of all races, who extend helping hand and heart in the midst of penury.
Spring Will Come is a story that lives up to its title.
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