Thursday, February 01, 2007

My brother the giant ogre

I spoke with Boitshoko, my younger brother today. We are so hectic with our separate lives and schedules that we rarely chat during the week, but for some reason my job colided with his this week.

He’s a chief of strategy/spokesman for the Royal Bafokeng Administration and one of the stories I was following up for my job led me to him.

We ended up spending up to 30 minutes just chatting about this and that. Nothing earth-shattering, but it was great to connect like that with him.

Our chat later reminded me that, as a child, he loved stories about the giant ogre so much that he was named for it. His nickname was Dingwe.

We were also fortunate enough to grow up in an era when the forest near our village in Phokeng still had wild animals.

Hyenas, jackals and baboons, among others, were common sight, and it was very normal to hear the cry of a hyena or jackal in the evenings, while we sat outside enjoying the cooling breeze of a moon-lit night.

Boitshoko and his friends also used to take the dogs to go hunting for hare. I suppose that’s why the story of Sananapo seemed so relevant for us.

For us, as it was for the character, hunting for food was very normal. I don’t think we ever did eat one kids we went hunting with. However, as a I told Baby, grilled snake meat tastes just like chicken!

How I name my main characaters

I named the title character of my adult reader, published by Heinemann, after my brother. Boitshoko It is my custom to name main characters in my fiction after people who are important to me. Boitshoko was translated into Zulu, Xhosa and Sesotho.

The main character of the "The Doll That Grew," a children's book that was published by Macmillan, was named after Neo, who I've been friends with since we were attending university.

And yes, I do have a story in mind starring a character named after Baby. Using her real name, that is.

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