Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, profiles a prolific author from Pretoria’s Mamelodi who provides a kaleidoscope of life characterised by loss, betrayal, resilience and triumph over adversity…

Julia Lemekwane is a 25 year old author born and bred in Mamelodi, Pretoria. Like Ngugi wa Thiongo, Africa’s literary legend, who writes in both his Kikuyu mother tongue and English, Julia is highly competent in dishing out literary delicacies in both Xitsonga and English.  She was nominated in the  Xitsonga category for the 2022 AVBOB Poetry Competition. And this year she has been nominated for the AfriCAN Author’s Awards. She’s a fan’s writer on the Fundza Literacy Trust. She’s usually found reading a psychological thriller with an interesting plot twist and suspense. 

Julia started writing poetry at the age of 11, and her story telling abilities took off from 2015. Publishing a novel has always been one of her wildest dreams, and it finally came true with the publication of ‘Wool Over My Eyes’. When she isn’t immersed in literature, she spends her time working as a Financial Advisor and being a good mother to her son. She currently resides in Pretoria with her family and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Education at the University of South Africa (UNISA). This book will be a mother to many, as she plans to publish more books in the future. Overall, she has an extensive 8 years experience in creative writing and storytelling. 

Here’s one of her poems dedicated to our rainbow nation:

A young girl from Mamelodi East,

Placed a cross next to the beast.

But only got awarded with a mark on the thumb,

Sold my soul to the government,

Damn how could I have been so dumb?

What a mockery to the royal 27th of April 1994,

We are liberated without any freedom,

Can’t you see we are drawn into this dark kingdom?

How come we still celebrate Freedom day?

We are physically emancipated,

Yet psychologically chained!

I had a lot of dreams to once again witness a rainbow nation, 

I heard a blow of trumpets screaming a new beginning for South Africa.

But who could have thought that His reign could denormalise what we considered mundane? 

Transform our norm, until the norm feels foreign.

Making our world so untypical,

Separate us from what’s usual 

until the usual becomes unusual.

Made us so uncomfortable until we found comfort in this discomfort. 

Change our reality, made it so unfamiliar until we got familiar with this new mundane!  

Welcome to the upside-down,

this is where the beast wears his crown!

The kids are born with deep frowns,

What’s there to do in these crime-infested Towns?

He turned the table around,

Brought our worlds to a complete standstill

His reign made it easy for the rain to kill,

Mother Nature is angry this planet is ill!

You’re stealing from the sun with your solar panels,

Floods are wiping away the negative energies.

Where is Noah’s ark?

The country is in the dark, 

Our future is left without a spark.

while the criminals are strolling in the park,

Even our dogs no longer bark.

these thugs feed our pets poison!

Pit bulls are in complete rage,

Set them free from the cage!

Humans are the real monsters!

Tame the law, leave our country lawlessness!

You deploy soldiers to shoot the defenseless!

How could a country remain so ungoverned?

We can’t unlearn, the knowledge!

Although Julia is a fitness fanatic, she takes strong exception to body shaming. “As a young mother, my body changed after pregnancy. I had to answer to people who were not even close to me why my physique had transformed. I was a fitness fanatic. But I gained massively.

“I started my healthy living journey, exactly on 21 December 2022. I did a lot of calorie deficit, and strength training. Because I have a muscle memory, losing weight comes a bit easier. Gradually I am achieving small results. However I just want to emphasise that nobody has the right to body shame you. It is all up to you: if you don’t like something about yourself you can change it by following small steps. You don’t have to wait for someone to bully you to change, as long as you want to do it for yourself do it. Atomic Habits. A healthy mind, will give you healthy body! Self affirmation is critical. Affirm nice things about yourself. Please don’t beat yourself up if you achieve the desired results overnight because our journeys are different.”

This vibrant author has taken the industry by storm. She has cut out the middleman by selling directly through her online store. The publishing industry is highly exploitative to the authors: an author will often by given a 7% royalty; a bookshop will take between 30% and 45% commission; and the rest is retained by the publishing company. This makes the business of knowledge production less attractive to authors. That’s why she has decided to take full control over her literary output.  Over the last 3 months, she has sold over 100 copies – some of which were couriered to areas as far as Mpumalanga, North West and most parts of Gauteng. 

Wool Over My Eyes’: A potent concoction of loss, secrets, betrayal, resilience and survival 

Wool Over My Eyes’, is a novel about a young woman who is forced to take care of her siblings after her parents die from mysterious causes. Pearl Sediba abandons her dreams of a better life to work in retail stores to make ends meet for her family. Her brother, Tiffany Sediba, goes missing after joining the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as a soldier, leaving his family with the assumption that he was killed in a line of duty. Pearl finds refuge in her boyfriend, Terry Nyembe, who offers her a ticket to a new lifestyle. Although there are red flags,  she chooses to ignore.

The story revolves around Pearl Sediba and her best friend, Promise Mbewe, who have been together since childhood. When Pearl meets Terry Nyembe, she falls in love with him and moves with him to Johannesburg, bidding farewell to the poverty in Soweto. Conflict arises when Promise Mbewe becomes envious of Pearl’s new lifestyle, leading to a discreet affair with Terry. Later, Tiffany Sediba comes back to Soweto to announce good news about his fiancee, but also reveals a dark family secret after their grandmother’s death.

Pearl discovers a letter from her late mother about her biological father, Eric Ndlovu, who could be alive. She goes to Terry’s apartment unannounced and learns about the secret affair between her best friend and her boyfriend. Saddened by the grimy discovery, Pearl makes a phone call that puts her life in danger. She is kidnapped by criminals who turn out to be working for her real father, Eric Ndlovu. Pearl breaks the news about the letter, and Eric almost goes through a divorce after his dodgy businesses are discovered.

Eric plots for Pearl to be trafficked along with other young girls to neighbouring countries, not only to save his marriage but to wipe off the debt that he owes his partner in crime. Pearl conspires against her father and finds a way to escape. She anonymously tips the South African Police Services (SAPS) off about the container and geographical coordinates of where the missing girls and the criminals are held. In the end, Tiffany Sediba keeps his promise, and Pearl along with her siblings relocate to Cape Town to start a new life.

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The book sells for R250, and you can order it directly from the author on +27 66 457 1910 or via her online store, royalbookstore.co.za. Follow her on Facebook page by clicking here.