Although the title ‘Queen of Mayhem’ may suggest feminism, the events in the story itself are quite relatable and fascinating to any person who follows issues of corruption, wildlife poaching, gender-based violence, defilement and murder.
Reneilwe Madome, who the story is centered around, finds herself contradicting her very own principle which she best put in words, “When I was young and impressionable, I held the belief that no one deserves to die at the hands of another…”
The now older Reneilwe, corrupted by life beyond self-recognition finds herself sitting on the stairs of her apartment, blood all over the wedding dress she wore two years ago. It is covered in the blood of the man she was once married to.
Everything happened so fast that day yet it was carefully planned. She had learnt how to hold a gun and shoot a target and she knew she could simply make a call to her new intelligence partners who would make the evidence vanish and she could wake up the next day like none of these things ever happened.
Queen of Mayhem is a novella by a young Motswana called Kagiso Madibana who is a communications specialist & social entrepreneur and founder of the charitable organization, Nayang Association. Among her thick achievements, she is also an alumna of the Chevening Scholarship.
The title of the book, she says, ascribes to the fact that everyone, even women, goes through struggles that no one knows about, but it does not take away from their strength and sense of self; issues of life should not define people.
She is also the author of the books, Tales from the heart of Botswana: Baareng’s Journey and “To Rrangolo, with love!” making her a published author of three books. Her book, Queen of Mayhem, was endorsed in September this year by Sam Minta, the chief executive officer of Stanbic Bank Botswana, through the AcceleR8 Incubator initiative by the bank in support of local writers.
The short novella impressively covers a range of issues dealt with daily and strategically sends subliminal messages to its readers. The events, whether fictional or closely relating to real life issues within the country, are realistic. It looks into issues of childhood trauma, conflict of interest at the workplace, drug addiction and marriage issues, among others, in a concise yet adequate manner.
Referring to her endless battle against corruption, the main character, Reneilwe, said in frustration, “I was tired of corruption stories, they were endless and nothing really ever happened to the perpetrators after all our hard work.” This line speaks volumes about what is happening not just in Botswana alone but the world at large. The frustration of journalism and other professions and individuals who sweat day and night to bring to light corrupt individuals just for the stories to disappear like smoke in the air.
The whole story is a page turner. Madibana strategically empowers the characters in her book to actively fight their battles. As a child, Reneilwe exposed her uncle who tried to rape her and the family took action against him by reporting to the police unlike it is common for families to hide defilers at the expense of the child. She further shows the little Reneilwe reporting her father for killing her mother in their usual fights. He too went to jail. The story is progressive throughout, but we see Reneilwe becoming the woman she promised to never be and the ending leaves one panting.