Spotlight on Women: Part 5 (Fictional Females)
By Preflight Books
Spotlight on Women | Part 5: Sbongumusa Thabethe

Why would a post entitled Spotlight on Women feature a male author you ask? The answer is simple. Every voracious reader, young or old, has been inspired or shaped by a fictional woman at some point in their life. Mercy Coy, the heroine brought to life by Sbongumusa Thabethe, is here to do just that. Mercy is the embodiment of a strong fictional female in this brand new Sci-Fi classic.

Sbongumusa Thabethe became an internationally published author at the age of 19 and has since published two more books. You can catch Mercy Coy in his third book, Recurrence.

Sbongumusa’s powerful woman story

Growing-up, my parents were always away. Not because they didn’t love us (my brother and I), but because they loved us so much, they couldn’t bear the idea of seeing us live the life they did. They wished to give us a better life. So, they made the ultimate sacrifice. They chose to be workaholics.  

My father was overseas 70% of the time. My mother worked night-shifts at Spoornet, now known as Transnet. She was home, but we only saw glimpses of her here and there. During the day, she’d be home. But my brother and I would be away at school. When we came back from school, my mother would be going out to work or sometimes asleep. At times, my mother would wait an hour longer just to see my brother and I come home from school. Needless to say, my parents weren’t home most of the time. I had to live with my brother (who is a year older than me) for years. We were like sugar and candy. We still are. He’s my best friend. 

I remember one day I came back from school and my mother was going out to work. Those were the best 10 minutes of my life. She hugged us and told us that she misses us. Her perfume lingered, even after she had long gone. I digress. Anyway, as she was leaving for work, she told me to listen attentively to the sound of the train. This was at a time where cellphones were not a thing yet. Our morning alarm was our mother. The closest thing to her voice was the telephone. My mother couldn’t call the landline in time to wake us up because she was driving the train. Besides, the offices were quite a distance away from the train yard. So, she told me to listen. The train tracks where the locomotive would pass was about 2 km away from our house. She told me that, when the time came, she’d pass by and sound the horn. If I heard the horn, I should wake up and hurry to school. That would be our morning alarm. 

The moment of truth came. Early in the morning around 5:59 I heard it. For as long as I live, I will never forget that sound, ‘Fup-Fuuuup! Fup-Fuuuup!’ – the sound of the train horn. It was 2 km away, but I heard it. To me it wasn’t just a horn. It was my mother’s voice. I listened and it said, “Wake up! Wake up!” 

We hurried to take a bath and headed out for school. Before leaving the house at about 6:30, the telephone rang. I picked it up and heard the sweetest sound. It was my mother. She called to confirm if indeed we were awake and were heading out to school. You see, my mother, upon entering the train yard, jumped off the train and ran to the managerial offices. Because, remember, no cellphones. She ran as fast as she could, straight into those facilities and I can see her in my mind right now, pushing suits and ties aside just to make a call. 

She did all those things for me. Because she refused to give me a life of hardship. She worked hard so that I could also one day eat pizza like other children. Today, I eat all the pizza I want in the world. All thanks to the woman who gave me everything. My love for her will never die.

When she was sure that we were awake, she hung up the phone. I walked to school that day with tears in my eyes. Not tears of pain, but tears of joy. I was proud. Proud of myself but mostly proud of my mother. That’s the day my mother became my hero.

Sbongumusa’s inspiration

There are many famous women who inspire me, but one name, above all, stands out: Sarah Fuller Flower Adams (also known by her pen name: S.Y.), who was a poet and a hymn writer. 

Sarah’s life was filled with hardship. She was no stranger to the perils of life. From growing up as a woman in the 1800’s, to illnesses stacked against her. It’s quite evident that “life” was against her. But despite it all, despite the deafness she inherited from her father, she went on to write one of the best hymns ever, ‘Nearer My God To Thee’. 

I’m deeply inspired by her life because many of us would take the easy route and give up. But not Sarah. She went above and beyond. Her deafness did not silence her, but rather, it gave her a louder voice. At a time when the authority of men wasn’t to be questioned, she dared to differ. She became an actress and portrayed the role of Lady Macbeth and later Portia. But most impressively, she wrote a dramatic poem called Vivia Perpetua. In it she depicts a young wife who refuses to submit to male control. 

Sarah was a strong woman who didn’t allow life or circumstance to hold her back. She lived as she pleased and all were pleased with how she lived. This is what was said of her after her passing: 

“All who knew Mrs. Adams personally speak of her with enthusiasm; she is described as a woman of singular beauty and attractiveness, delicate and truly feminine, high-minded, and in her days of health playful and high-spirited.” 

Furthermore, I’m inspired by her because even though she was deaf, she gave women a shouting voice. But most importantly, I’m inspired because she gave a young man like myself a dream. I’m a poet and a writer today because of her. It’s my lifelong dream to be like Sarah Fuller Flower Adams. Both in character and in accomplishments. All my ambitions and dreams are inspired by her.

Connect with Sbongumusa on Instagram or you can check out his website here. Get your copy of Recurrence through Amazon or order via email from

Read the entire Spotlight on women writers series. Start here.

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