A consequence of Mpe’s use of the second point of view to address Refentse is the reader’s involvement with the text. As one reads, Mpe’s use of the pronoun “you” makes one feel like one is Refentse, and all the events seem authentic, as if one had seen them with one’s own eyes. Moreover, Mpe uses many details to describe such a small town as Hillbrow, and therefore, by the end of the novel, one feels like they know everything about it.
What the reader knows:
– the importance of soccer to the citizens
– the detailed dangers of the streets, especially during big events
– what it means to be infected with AIDS
– discrimination (Makwerekwere)
– drug dealing and drunk citizens; prostitutes; beggars
– water scarcity
– perception of certain women
– what relationships are more or less like i.e. “Love. Betrayal. Seduction. Suicide.”
– English/Sepedi literature
– cellphone service providers: MTN and Vodacom
– emigration rate
– customs, beliefs, traditions i.e. “witches bewitch the deceased”; bone throwers
– rumors; different versions of stories
What one also comes to know are the streets of Hillbrow, in absolute detail. One knows how to get from the heart of Hillbrow, to the Refenste’s cousin’s house, and from the house to the University of the Witwatersrand.
Here is google map picture of the streets of Hillbrow that I’ve located.
The location marked in red is where Vickers is, opposite the De Gama Court. Through the map and using the directions in the book, you can see what exact route Refentse took everyday to the university from the house.