Book Review: Black Tax – Burden or Ubuntu?

Genre: Nonfiction short stories, Cultural, Africa
Interesting rating: Very
Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Would I recommend it? Yes

Yellow cover of the book Black Tax by Niq Mhlongo  with a red round stamp and words, edited by the award-winning author.
Image credit: loot.co.za

Disliked by many, accepted by a lot, Black Tax comes in many different forms.

But what is Black Tax?

There’s no single definition. In this short story collection, the writers share their opinions interestingly and in an informative way.

From sharing your home with a number of loved ones, to supporting the upkeep of your parents’ rural home, paying your siblings’ and extended family’s study fees, and buying a bull to mate with the cow. All forms of Black Tax. When there’s a funeral, you’re expected to buy the coffin (not too cheap), and the sheep and cow (not too skinny) to be slaughtered, and of course, the groceries. You could also be taking out multiple funeral policies for relatives. These are just some of the things that Black Tax entails.

While she doesn’t mind paying her brother’s school fees, it becomes a burden when he fails because he doesn’t dedicate himself to his studies.

SO Is Black Tax the best term to use?

In Black Tax – Ubuntu or Burden? various individuals talk about their feelings toward this age-old practice. Writers also weigh in on the term itself. Some feel it’s justified while others, including the editor, dislike the term immensely.

Short stories keep it fresh

I like that the stories have different tones, different voices and different views. Some share their own experiences, while others honour their parents for their sacrifices. Others share others’ stories.

One story, “Hypothetically peaking” by Chwayita Ngamlana, stood out to me as really good. And another I found too academic. But overall I think it was a good mix.

The book also explores South African history and what brought black people to this point. It asks the question, is Black Tax simply part of culture or an Apartheid-induced burden? Even Jan van Riebeeck gets a mention.

The real significance of this book lies in the fact that it tells us more about the everyday life of black South Africans. It delves into the essence of black family life and the secret anguish of family members who often battle to cope.

Niq Mhlongo

To sum up

The editor succeeded in what he tried to achieve with this book. He also managed to bring across different viewpoints in a captivating way. I like that the opinions are disparate and that ultimately, you can make up your own mind.

Recommended for those wanting to broaden their views and who can keep an open mind when it comes to what can be a sensitive cultural topic.

4 out of 5 stars

Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Year: 2019 | Pages: 268
ISBN: 978-1-868429745

Buy it here

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Black Tax – Burden or Ubuntu?

  1. Dear Abbey, I have been following your blog for some time and enjoy your reviews. My second novel, Azalea Heights, published by Creators Publications, is going out be out in May’21. Just wanted to check if you would be willing to review an advance copy of the book. Azalea Heights is a clash-of-cultures literary fiction. I am happy to send you further information on the book including a synopsis. Please let me know.

    My email address is: rajatwrites@gmail.com My blog address is: http://www.rajatnarula.wordpress.com.

    Warm regards, Rajat

    Liked by 1 person

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