PRETORIA – Madness in Duggart is a novel by Mamotladi Ivy Matloga which is inspired by her brother’s mental illness. The story is based in a rural area in SA, and seeks to highlight the plight of people living with mental disorders as well what their families tend to go through.
It does this through the experiences of one family, the Digame’s, whose only son suddenly becomes mentally ill. The family has to deal not only with the pain and shock of it, but also the stigma surrounding mental illnesses as a group.
Summary of Madness in Duggart by Mamotladi Ivy Matloga
This is a story of Dooks Digame, an intelligent, feisty young man growing up in a village. He is the only boy amongst five girls of a Christian working-class family. His village, Duggart, uniqhas an enormous number of people living with a variety of mental illnesses.
Some blamed the situation on drug abuse, while many believed it was witchcraft. It is during the apartheid era and Dooks, like many boys his age, grows up to understand his struggles as a black person, and becomes engaged with the freedom struggle.
It is during this time that he suddenly presents with a mental illness that threatens his dream of becoming a lawyer while also presenting his parents, in particular his devout Christian mother Sikhi, with a serious conflict of faiths as she prayed for a cure amidst pressures from her in-laws to seek help from traditional healers.
We don’t choose family but sometimes family chooses us
The family adjusts to Dooks’ illness, as well as the stigma it carried with it, and are even able to laugh about it at times. Dooks’ mother succumbs to her in-laws’ pressures with immense guilt. Dooks is taken to traditional healer, Ngaka Meso. He learns a lot about the disease that possessed him and though he does not heal, he becomes the Ngaka’s helper.
Although once known as an above average learner, he is discharged and continues to read whatever he could lay his hands on. One day he comes across information about a University programme that he could pursue. He applies, passes all the preliminary tests, including matric, and is accepted to a foundation year leading to his chosen career.
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Love without limits
At University Dooks meets the love of his life, Mahlako, who has no idea at first that he is mentally disabled. He graduates with flying colours. But when he applies for admission to the council of attorneys, he meets with resistance owing to his perceived state of mind. Dooks is hit by a major relapse.
With support from Mahlako, his family and his best friend, a march is organized to the law council. He is finally admitted as an attorney. He and Mahlako get married and raise his love-child. Dooks has finally given a face and a voice to people suffering with mental illnesses – that they were real people with real hopes and dreams.
They too deserved a chance. His family has finally accepted that everything happens for a reason known only by our maker.
About the author:
Public servant and Author, Mamotladi Ivy Matloga (née Mananyetso)’s passion for the written and spoken word has seen her producing. In addition to Madness in Duggart, is an e-book titled “Say It With Confidence!”. As well as a Sepedi novel “Mahlaku a Maswa” (unpublished), which was shortlisted for the ‘I am a writer’ competition by Human and Rossouw in 2007. Born in Mamphokgo in Limpopo Province, Mamotladi lives in Pretoria with her husband, Molatelo, and their three sons.
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