South African literary giant Sifiso Mzobe marvels, recalling his early childhood encounter with books and an essay from grade 9 with a huge smile on his face.
Sifiso Mzobe is a South African author popularly known fir the hit book “Young Blood” which made its debut in 2010. Since then Sifiso has never looked back. His journey has rewarded him with numerous awards such as “The Prestigious Sunday Times Fiction Awards and has treated us with short stories like “Searching for Simphiwe” and more.
Though he has made a huge impact in South African literature the star is still willing to share his journey with young people because he believes in the importance of imparting and sharing knowledge with others so as to anchor each other’s growth. I caught up with him and had the time of my life while being fed wisdom from the warmth of his heart.
Sifiso Mzobe comes from a township called Umlazi in Durban. Born to parents who were both teachers Sifiso had books in abundance.
“There were always books around the house, I would read a lot because there wasn’t 24-hour internet back then.”
This ignited his love for reading and writing. He recalls his first body of work while giggling at the childhood memory.
“It was a composition that I wrote in grade 9 titled “The Trip” and it was about a boy who smokes zoll for the first time it was read by my teacher and classmates “.
From that day Mr Mzobe has never looked back. He went to study journalism and graduated then worked for a local media house. Sifiso remembers the challenges faced by people in his community.
“There is a low employment rate; people engage in crime because they have to do what they have to do in order to survive”.
In 2010 Sifiso left his job to be a freelance journalist after his first book was published. “Young Blood has attracted so much readers and awards. It is a story that explores the issues faced by people in his community
When asked what inspires his writing he “Everything around me inspires me. I also have empathy and am able to get into other people’s shoes and walk their journeys in life and in that way I am able to come up with stories that are relatable to me and the readers “.
When I asked him how he makes sure that he doesn’t get personally attached to the story, he laughs and puts on a serious face.
“You’re the God of your story, the puppet master. Characters would make the decisions that you would also make.”
Sifiso believes that South African literature is heading into a space of light because long ago “People would only read because they are forced in school, but nowadays people are more interested in our stories.”
Mzobe also believes that now it is easier for people to access literature through data free sites like FunSza that opened a platform to read and share writings for free. Also because people are writing stories that are relatable to us, “we see ourselves in these stories.”
I asked him about how he deals with creative mind blocks especially when he has a deadline to meet and he responded adding a little bit of hip hop lingo:
“You have to do what you have to do, pace yourself and work on the adrenaline when it’s time you have a bring it on.”
Sfiso Mzobe’s skills have landed him on FunDza where he was a translator, editor and now mentors young writers.
His debut book Young Blood has gained him an international audience. It has recently been published in U.S ,Canada and North America which gives Sifiso all the feel good vibes. Luckily he doesn’t have to struggle with tons of work because Big House Publishing handles all the PR and marketing of the book. Sifiso is surely shooting for the stars, flying South Africa’s flag.
In 5 years’ time Sifiso sees himself starting painting which is another passion of his and probably two more books. Who said a writer’s life is dull and gloomy? Sifiso Mzobe has some fun fire in him. He was a good soccer player in his childhood days. He laughes before saying “I draw good art and I was once a cab driver in Cape town while I was still trying to get my book to be published. Sifiso also drives to the sea and writes in his car.
A gem and a spark to SA literature. A true example of hard work paying off. A man devoted to the pen and paper. Run with it Sifiso!