Niq Mhlongo’s “Black Tax: Burden or Ubuntu?”

Niq Mhlongo’s “Black Tax: Burden or Ubuntu?” out now.

Niq Mhlongo’s first edited anthology Black Tax: Burden or Ubuntu?, published by Jonathan Ball, already available in the South African market, has an official publishing date of September 10, 2019.

Niq Mhlongo, who emerged with his debut novel Dog Eat Dog about the life of a campus student in a South Africa that was just coming out of Apartheid in 2004, is not a new name in the African literary scene. He followed the success of that novel with After Tears in 2007 and then Way Back Home (our review) in 2015. The author, who is the city editor of the Johannesburg Review of Books, also has two short story collections Affluenza published in 2016 and Soweto Under The Apricot Tree published in 2018.

Niq Mhlongo’s newest book is the Jonathan Ball Published Black Tax: Burden or Ubuntu? Mhlongo says of the new offering he has edited, “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.”

Some of the anthology’s contributors are among others, Dudu Busani-Dube, Fred Khumalo, Mohale Mashigo, Sue Nyathi, Lucas Ledwaba, Lidudumalingani, and Angela Makholwa. The blurb for the new publication goes thus;

A secret torment for some, a proud responsibility for others, ‘black tax’ is a daily reality for thousands of black South Africans. In this thought-provoking and moving anthology, a provocative range of voices share their deeply personal stories.

With the majority of black South Africans still living in poverty today, many black middle-class households are connected to working-class or jobless homes. Some believe supporting family members is an undeniable part of African culture and question whether it should even be labelled as a kind of tax.

Others point to the financial pressure it places on black students and professionals, who, as a consequence, struggle to build their own wealth. Many feel they are taking over what is essentially a government responsibility.

The contributions also investigate the historical roots of black tax, the concept of the black family and the black middle class. In giving voice to so many different perspectives, “Black Tax” hopes to start a dialogue on this widespread social phenomenon.

The book is available in many bookstores across South Africa already; those outside that country have to wait until September 10 and can pre-order the book here.

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