Friday, March 6, 2009



Book: Tebogo and the epithalamion
Author: Omoseye Bolaji
Publisher: Eselby Jnr Publications
Reviewer: Peter Moroe

Tebogo and the epithalamion (2009), the latest in the “Tebogo Mokoena mystery series" has just been published. Here, sleuth Tebogo Mokoena tackles the case of a bride to be, who suddenly vanishes from her own house. Here I shall just briefly touch on one or two aspects that strike me as regards this new book.

The issue of “morality” seems to interest Bolaji in his writings.Critic Petro Schonfeld writes almost sarcastically in this wise in her book, Tebogo on the prowl (pg 38): “The virtues of Dave are legion. He did not flirt with women…he liked a simple life…he was popular and generous…he liked reading…he was a writer…almost a saint…His character overshadows Tebogo (whose) characteristics are few compared to the praises Dave receives”

Also note that Aryan Kaganof in his review of Bolaji's book, People of the Townships writes: “I would suggest that Mr. Bolaji has created a morally ambiguous protagonist in order to test our own opinions and ethics. The truth is that judgements on the moral plane (sic, plain) are extremely hard to make, both in life and, as John Lefuo amply demonstrates, in fiction”

In Tebogo and the epithalamion there is this type of tantalising ambiguity on issues of “morality” again. For example when Tebogo and Seleke the ‘rich man’ discuss:

But whether Neo “had played her cards right” or not, was hardly the issue here. I stared at Ntate Seleke and said: “But is it true – that there is another woman in this town who has a baby for you?”

Mike flinched as Seleke’s face changed into a ruthless mask. Indeed he (Mike) looked away uneasily, perhaps cursing me inwardly for raising this matter which I had heard about. But I tried to look unperturbed.

Seleke said at last: “Are you questioning my moral ethics?”

Yet the irony is that Mr. Seleke is probably morally flawed as it emerges that he has fathered a child quite carelessly whilst drunk and has little or no respect for the mother of his young child.

Mike Lechesa is one of the pivotal figures in the book, and his portrayal in the book is almost flawless: we can see that he is sensitive, quiet, courteous, has been very sick, etc. We can also see that on the whole, he has no sense of humour; hence a second reading of the book reveals a jarring note when Tebogo first meets him (Mike):

“Mike!” I said hugging him.

“Be careful, Ntate” Gloria (who worked at the B and B) said. “Mr. Mike was very sick and is just getting better,” So she knew him well too.

“So I’m a sissy eh?” Mike joked.

It is quite clear here that the narrator (or rather the author) has temporarily super-imposed what would have been his own comment – putting such words into Mike’s mouth as it were. There is nothing in this work to indicate Mike was capable of “cracking such a joke”

Although probably the worst book in the series, this is another very readable edition of the adventures of Tebogo Mokoena the Private investigator. Regular readers of the series would be thrilled.


Tebogo Investigates
Tebogo’s spot of bother
Tebogo Fails
Ask Tebogo
Tebogo and the Haka