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Modjaji Books

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Malika Ndlovu and her Invisible Earthquake making international waves

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invited Malika Ndlovu, author of Invisible Earthquake, to write an article for their website, after her story about her experience of stillbirth came to their attention because she was featured in The Lancet special series on stillbirth.

Malika’s book, Invisible Earthquake is a book that speaks for what has been and still is an experience that, although widespread and all too common, has been ignored and not acknowledged as being one of deep suffering and loss, an experience that deserves attention. The women who lose their babies in this way grieve, and yet they usually do so silently and alone, without support. Thankfully this is beginning to change, and Malika’s book heralds this shift in attitude and perception from society at large, and from the medical establishment.

Here is an excerpt from Malika’s article on the Gates Foundation site:

Within many African communities, however, there are a range of social and cultural factors which inhibit women from speaking about their experience or accessing emotional as well as basic practical support.

While there is pervasive inaccessibility to services as a consequence of poverty, in many cases simply addressing the lack of information, support, and ongoing education – both of mothers, medical staff and the public – could save babies’ and mother’s lives and begin to ease the protracted suffering stillbirth can lead to.

Compounding this situation are prevailing perceptions that therapy is for the elite, that depression is not a valid medical condition, dominant religious or cultural beliefs that may deem stillbirth as “God’s will” which must not be questioned, or this tragedy is seen as a curse upon a family.

In a context where children are considered part of one’s wealth and community status and in some ways proof of one’s womanhood, the shame of infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth can mean death in more ways than one for an African woman.

Read the whole article here

The article that Tanya Farber wrote for the Cape Times, Friday May 6th, 2011 neatly captures the waves that Malika and her extraordinary book, Invisible Earthquake are making.

Cape Town writer Malika Ndlovu has returned from London where her own experience of stillbirth was shared with the public at the launch of a landmark edition of international health publication The Lancet.

Entitled the Lancet Stillbirth Series, it contains the first ever collection of global estimates on stillbirths, and Ndlovu’s voice has added to a groundswell of advocacy amongst international organizations to bring the topic out of the shadows.
The publication reports that at least 2.65-million stillbirths are estimated to happen every year, with more than half of those afflicting families in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

Ndlovu’s book, Invisible Earthquake, is cross-referenced and quoted in the journal, while the author was interviewed by large media stables like Aljazeera and BBC radio during the launch. “When I compare myself to other women in far less-resourced communities, I am humbled that my sharing of my story catalyzes a process for other people who have never been able to speak about their tragedy. When I share my story at home in South Africa, it stands in stark contrast to the stories that come forward after I break the silence,” says Ndlovu.

Read the rest of the Cape Times article here

Modjaji Books is proud to have recognised an important voice and issue and published her book in 2009, and to see that this book has become part of what is being used by powerful lobbies to come to a deeper understanding of stillbirth and its effects on women and families.

Invisible Earthquake

Book details


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    July 1st, 2011 @01:31 #

    This is absolutely fantastic, heartening, encouraging... kudos to Modjaji and Malika for their courage, for showing how words, creativity can make a positive contribution to a global health issue that is also the stuff of silent, unwitnessed tragedy.


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