Author tells harrowing story

Ayabulela Mkenke with his book titled, Bleeding Yet Bloodless. Picture: Mcebisi Sidlai

I’ve forgiven him. It’s all in Gods hands now.

These were the words of Ayabulela Mkenke, the author of Bleeding Yet Bloodless, at a book launch hosted by the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) in Dean Street, Gardens, last week Friday.

The NLSA’s Nelisa Lunika introduced the crowd to the authors, among whom were Ongeziwe Bolisi and Lwandile Tyeba, authors of Umthandazo wama-Afrika, and Sinobom Kruthani, who wrote Amashwa Ziinyembezi.

Mr Mkenke’s story left the audience of more than 100 people emotional and angry. He was raped by a father figure and head pastor at his church.

The pastor, whom he refers to by the pseudonym “Slingo”, which translates to the devil in isiXhosa, left him deeply bruised and HIV-positive.

Originally from Elliotdale near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, Mr Mkenke moved to Khayelitsha in 2009 to further his education and employment opportunities.

He knew nobody in the city besides his church family and Slingo, who broke his family’s trust.

During last Friday’s book launch session, themed “Celebrating Youth Month with Youth Writers – Our Pens, Our Voices”, Mr Mkenke was on stage in conversation with UWC’s Dr Sebolelo Mokapela.

Before the book launch, Dr Mokapela had been hired by the NLSA to proof read the book, but she said she would do it for free.

Dr Mokapela said she was in tears the first time she heard Mr Mkenke’s story. He came to her office with scribbles on paper. His book was hand written. Dr Mokapela recalls Mr Mkenke had lived in the same house with the perpetrator.

Mr Mkenke said he was afraid to open a case with the police. He did, however, go for trauma counselling at numerous institutions in Khayelitsha, before he was transferred to Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital, which is where his recovery process began under the guidance of mentor, Heidi Prayer.

At the book launch, the crowd offered Mr Mkenke words of encouragement.

Continuing his story, he said: “A few months after the incident I was not feeling well. I had a rash, I went to the clinic. In 2012, I found out I was HIV-positive.

“To me personally, rape doesn’t only affect the victim but the family of the victim.

Time has passed and I told myself, for myself to heal, let me rather close this chapter.”