Book Review: Melinda Ferguson’s The Kelly Khumalo Story

True Love magazine journalist and bestselling author of Smacked —a book about her addiction to narcotics and the hard road to recovery —Melinda Ferguson, took upon herself a risk most would have strayed away from. She wrote the story of an addict. It was a risk because, like me when I first saw a copy of this book, she asked herself: What could people possibly want to know about Kelly Khumalo?

Kelly Khumalo, once a rising star and sadly, more than for her musical talents, a girl who had come to be known for virginity claims, weave fights and legal battles, drug use and standing in support next to a man whose head the country wanted to see hang for playing a fatal role in what has been dubbed ―The Mini-cooper massacre‖. She was a picture of how young South Africans today chase the ―bling life and get spiralled into a world of money, drugs and scandal.

In this book, The Kelly Khumalo Story, Melinda (alongside Sarah Setlaelo ,Kelly‘s once manager turned enemy turned manager again), takes us through the journey of a young woman with a dream. Having been raised in rural KwaZulu Natal, in Nthinini, where she had to fight for bread and love with equal vigour, among the other kids who were also shipped off to her grandmother‘s place because of the hardships of Apartheid South Africa.

We learn how Kelly has always seen the world as a war zone. Her feelings of abandonment from early childhood, of not being good enough, of the relationships she had with men, would later in life lead her to make all kinds of wrong decisions when it came to money, relations with men (and women), and what she falsely thought was love.

Kelly‘s story is not unique. A lot of South Africans grow up in poverty with nothing but a dream. But not all of them have the talent and sultry voice that we first heard on our TV screens on a gospel talent show back in 2003, in the form of Kelly Khumalo. Her story does however breathe some light into the hearts of similarly dark situations. Kelly is an example of courage and strength to get up from the worst of situations, leaning on whatever spurs you on, which in this case was Kelly‘s God and her connection to Him through Gospel, and the hope for a better day.

Melinda Ferguson took Kelly and brought her to a human level, so we see more than just wasted talent, but a daughter, a sister, a mother and a girl who just wants to be the best she can be with what talents God has given her, and once again a rising star.

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