Outer characterization

Mxolisi is another character in Sindiwe Magona’s novel Mother to Mother. He is Mandisa’s oldest child. He is a twenty-year-old Black South African man living in Guguletu, Cape Town. Mxolisi has two younger half-siblings: Lunga and Siziwe. His father, China, left Mxolisi and Mandisa when Mxolisi was young. He is described as “tall and muscular” (p. 7) with a “loud and serious” (p. 7) voice that sounds like his father’s.

Mandisa initially gives Mxolisi the name Hlumelo, which means sprig or sprout. However, China’s family renames him Mxolisi, meaning he who would bring peace, in the hopes that he would bring his parents’ two clans together in harmony. However, this prophecy did not come true, as his father abandoned his clan and his new family, and Mandisa left with Mxolisi. 

Inner characterization

Mxolisi had a troubled childhood

Mxolisi’s arrival into Mandisa’s life is disrupting, which is shown in the complicated relationship between Mandisa and Mxolisi: “A part of me hated him. Not him… but what he was… had been… the effect he seemed to have on my life. Always negative, always cheating me of something I desperately wanted. I shrunk; because he was” (p. 142). As a child, Mxolisi appears to sense his mother’s negative feelings towards him, as shown by the shaman who tells Mandisa to free her son from the burden of her resentment (p. 154).

His father, China, also resents Mxo...

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