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Jane Rosenthal Reviews The Sculptors of Mapungubwe by Zakes Mda

The Sculptors of MapungubweVerdict: carrot

Now here’s a romance, a bardic praise song for South African readers! It is set in Mapungubwe, the town that surrounded the hill of the same name, in 1223CE when what is now a world heritage site on South Africa’s northwestern border with Zimbabwe and Botswana was home to a thriving society of cattle farmers, miners and traders.

Mda has based his story on the research on the kingdom done by many archaeologists and historians, whom he acknowledges.From scant solid information he has spun a fluid and engaging tale. His two main characters are sculptors, Chatambudza (called Chata mostly) and Rendani, the apprentice and son respectively of the royal sculptor, and Mda lets their lives unfold with effortless simplicity and rich detail.

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