Sypaadjie, a novel by Alma Rossouw

by Irene van Staden

Where do you stand in your life? On the sidewalk or in the road?

What the novel, Sypaadjie, is about

Sypaadjie (Sidewalk) is an Afrikaans novel written by Alma Rossouw and published by Lapa Publisher’s new publishing name, Wenkbrou. It is a controversial novel about a homosexual woman who learns how to have relationships with her friends, family, lover and with God.

At first it takes place in Johannesburg where the main character, Leah van Jaarsveld (28), established the main office of her company – KVJ Holdings. However, she unwillingly needs to visit the branch in Cape Town due to a mess up a former employee caused. It is there where she is confronted with her past and is forced to stop being an observer of her own life.

As the reader continues reading they learn that Leah hasn’t yet accepted her sexuality due to the fact that she believes it was the cause for her mother and brother’s death (106 – 107, 112). This prevents her from connecting with people on a deeper level as she always starts running away when they get too close (42, 107).

Unlike Leah, Hannah (Leah’s friend and lover) accepted her sexuality and knows who she is (with the help of her parents and a reverent). However, she too is going through changes regarding her occupation and what she should do in life (69-73). She plays a key role in Leah coming to terms with her past and realising that it is okay to love someone of the same sex.

Even though Hannah did play this key role, Leah still had to spend time alone to figure things out. She did this by going back to the farm where she grew up, where she spent time with her family and where she found God (108-115). This, she had to do in order to accept who she was and who she loved, before she could have any relationship. I think a lot of time we try to find God and ourselves through other people, when this is something we have to do for ourselves. Others can support us and give us advice or share their wisdom, but they cannot make us believe or love.

Themes within Alma Rossouw’s novel

Other than this the novel brings a bunch of controversial topics to light. Like asking the questions you are told not to ask when you are a child. Crossing the colour boarder and blurring the lines, by loving people from the same sex, having relationships with people from different cultures or races. Masturbation and worshiping in different ways that might seem to others as non traditional.

Creative imagery within the novel

Furthermore, a descriptive aspect that I enjoyed from Alma Rossouw’s novel is how she described Cape Town in comparison with Johannesburg. Now, if you live in South Africa these difference would be very obvious to you. How the rain in the Western Cape is like background music and not a war zone line in Johannesburg (11). Or the different ways in which people dress. In Johannesburg people from the business world generally dress in formal suits, but in the Western Cape this is something that is slowly starting to fade out. People are starting to wear Woolworth’s Jeans and Old Kalki collar shirts more and more, instead of suits. (11-14)

Overall enjoyment

All in all I enjoyed reading Rossouw’s novel – Sypaadjie (2019). It made me realise that through all of life, no matter how horrible or bad we might experience it, we need to remember that love is the most important thing of all. Jesus’ life proclaims this. We need to learn how to dance in the middle of the road of life and not just stand next to it, only observing. We need to love vigorously.

Follow the following link for more information on Lapa Publishers or if you would like to purchase Alma Rossouw’s novel, Sypaadjie:

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