Book review: “Your life is not your circumstances – renew your mind, focus on the good” by Ncumisa Mgidlana

There isn’t a single person that wouldn’t identity with this non-fiction, particularly the majority who come from what we as South Africans would call “emakhaya” – “home” in the Eastern Cape. Generally speaking, life can be tough for one, but you’d find that the worst that could happen in one’s life seems inevitable for those who are not from well-off families, those with an impoverished background.

Here is Ncumisa, born and raised in Qumbu village, in the Eastern Cape, having been exposed to circumstances that were not in her control, which changed the course of her life and unfortunately greatly affected her decisions negatively in that she had to face the resulting consequences. From an age as early as 11 years old, she experienced the most gruesome experience any innocent girl could ever endure, one that tarnished her dignity. She only escaped when circumstances allowed her. Imagine being under a circumstance that you cannot escape from, especially as a child – what do you do when you can’t even recognise that what is being done to you as an 11-year-old shouldn’t be?

She escaped that, only to find herself living in an environment with screams, shouting, beating, banging, window-breaking, blood. As the eldest, she had to be protective and act strong for her little siblings – a common trait when it comes to the older sibling. But she couldn’t do that for long. Once again, circumstances moved her out of that situation and into boarding school, pained by the fact that she left her younger siblings, considering the situation. Boarding school was where she, like most teenagers, generally speaking, got into mischief – doing that which one would know their parents wouldn’t even approve of. That did affect her academic progress.

Once matric is completed, everybody looks forward to what career to take. For Ncumisa, she was not certain which career to venture into. In fact, she merely followed what her parents or others said. This is a common issue among individuals during their adolescent stage. What they don’t realise is that when they don’t know what they want, or haven’t done enough research to conclude whether or not they are prepared for the career, it will cost them their time and inability to endure, like it was with Ncumisa during her years of employment.

Another circumstance emerged, and this time it was her reckless decision-making, or shall we rather say uninformed decision? We tend to neglect the need for a principled foundation. Little do we know that it affects the decision-making and way of living as decided by the child. Ncumisa fell pregnant at the age of 18 years. Again, it may be a common concern among young adults who may have neither been taught nor witnessed the value of family, the way of living according to God’s principles, and the value of a young girl in her youth. This took a great shift in her life as she had to start working while finishing off her studies. The sad part of it all is having to leave her daughter to be raised by other family members since she couldn’t afford to; and this in turn created a barrier between her and her daughter, which she cried about as expressed in her chapter titled “bonding with my daughter”.

In the end, with all that had transpired, Ncumisa’s disappointment, discouragement and misery led her to prayer and including God in her life consistently. God pulled her out of it all, simply through a book.

With so much going on, especially with the current pandemic, we can only imagine what many may be going through. And just like Ncumisa, 1 book – perhaps this book – may just be the beginning of a positive shift of mindset. Let these words of the subtitle of this book linger in your thoughts as you come to completion of reading this book review: renew your mind, focus on the good.

P.S: The book is available for purchase online. The book will be delivered directly to your doorstep.



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