If there’s one thing to know about Street Talk TV, it’s that our team members know how to bring their A-game. Our go-to researcher, Lwazi Mpanza is no different.

We are excited to announce that Lwazi has self-published her own book, The Melody of Tragedy – available to purchase on Amazon.

“When tragedy strikes this same-sex duo on the cusp of solidifying their relationship and building a future together, it tests not only their resolve and love for each other but their very understanding of themselves. A true and first-hand account of a horror that sends one of them into an extended coma, the loss of agency, control over their lives, and their bodies in a system built against them while the other is left to pick up the pieces.

The Melody of Tragedy is a tale of untold hardship and clinging on to hope in the darkest hour. An hour that would last over two soul-changing years. It is a story of resilience against the most insurmountable of odds. Raw and honest, The melody of tragedy is the ultimate tale of triumph. Mostly, this book is the ultimate human story. A story that makes the most impossible live side by side with the possible and achievable.”

Below, you can read an exclusive sneak peek into the book and see for yourself, the power that jumps out from the pages.


Haunted by death

I was 16 years old when a man from 3rd Avenue in Alexandra Township shot me in the back just a street away from my house on 2nd Avenue. My house sat opposite the famous King’s cinema which had been known to be the only movie theatre in a black township in South Africa. This thanks in the most part to an apartheid system that made the development of black settlements beyond simply being labor farms something near impossible.

A feeling that has followed me my entire life hung in the air that day but it had been new year’s eve and I simply mistook it for excitement. In hindsight, I could not have known any better at that age in any event. I had come from a big family and everyone was there on the day. Like many families, we had gathered to usher in the new year together. Alexandra, a place that hardly sleeps on a normal day, was particularly alive during this time of year. Music could be heard from almost every house and excitement was thick in the air like a sweet perfume that had been applied all too heavily.

We had everything any child could need or even think of needing. The fridge was full and aromas of herbs, spices and meat filled the passages of our house. I wanted for nothing…except of course for the matches to light the fireworks I had been bought to join the festivities when the clock struck 12 later that day. As fate would have it, it was not to be. I didn’t get to light my fireworks or join in the festivities of that day.

Although I was instructed not to leave our native yard as the apartheid government had termed them, I couldn’t help but sneak out for a quick walk to the store on 3rd Avenue to get matches. I had to have my matches. So, I walked and purchased a single box and began to make my way back. I had taken a shortcut through an alleyway that connected the two streets and this would be my way back.

It was a route I had used often without incident. Suddenly, four shots rang out from behind me but I thought nothing of it in the immediate sense. Fireworks were often heard throughout the festive period. I felt cramps taking over my body. I could feel the bullet in my stomach and the heat of the blood pouring out of me. “I have been shot,” the thought dawned on me a split second later…so I ran, limping my way into the alley I had only minutes earlier used to go to the shop up the road.

For an unlucky teen who had, only a few years earlier, fallen from a dining room table and broken her nose, I felt lucky to see a familiar face. It was Marks. He lived just down the road from where I had been shot and without asking a single question, threw me into his car and drove me to Masakhane Clinic some five minutes away.

At this point, it did not occur to me that I might die. My only worry was the monumental beating I was going to get when my mother found out. She did not know my whereabouts or condition at the time and the clinic could not wait for that eventuality. I was put in an ambulance and taken to Johannesburg Hospital where I had been born and was stabilized. They could not operate because there was no one to sign the necessary consent forms for the surgery and so I waited, stabilized with a bullet in my belly.

Not too long after, my mother arrived and told me how she had instructed me to stay home. “look what has happened now,” she said. I could tell that she couldn’t find the words she wanted to express the concern that was written so clearly on her face. The forms were signed and I was rushed to the theatre. Before beginning, the doctor asked that they first pray. This would be the last thing I would remember. I lost consciousness as they prayed and woke up the next day, stitched from my chest to my nave. I could hardly walk but I was alive and that meant I would have to answer for my defiance, I thought. But that too was not to be. Instead, it was my sister Penny who would shoulder the blame for my hunt for a simple box of matches. An eventuality I have never apologized for and deeply regret to this day.

To this very, I still live with the fragments of the bullet that hit me inside of me. They were not removed even when they turned septic and needed draining. Sometimes I like to think of that fact as a form of penance for never giving Penny the apology she deserved.

I could have died then but being shot in the back was not the closest I have come to death. That comes much later and it has marked me, mind, body, and soul for life and an eternity thereafter. Before then my bullet wound would rupture and send me back to the hospital to once again fight for my life, my brother would kill himself, my family would learn to accept me for who and what I am and always had been, my sister would succumb to cancer and my other brother would die in my arms right outside of my mother’s house after being shot in the head four times.

Four times…I have never managed to reconcile that. How do you shoot someone in the head four times? I had had my fill of death. I was fatigued with losing people I cared for. I could take no more. Just then, my friend, a wonderful father to his children, would die in a car accident on the way back from a club. It numbed me all over. Death had followed me again.


The Melody of Tragedy is available to order via Amazon. Support one of our Street Stars and find out why our team is one of the best out there for yourself.