Book review: It’s Me, Marah by Marah Louw

The sweet-honeyed singer who’s been a fixture on the South African entertainment landscape for more than four decades has penned a tell-all autobiography to heal the pain she has endured in both her private and professional life. She also hopes the book will help her vanquish the “demons that stopped me from finding my roots and my voice”.

Louw starts off by tracing her ancestry to the Eastern Cape and her family’s move to Soweto in Johannesburg. She eloquently evokes the spirit of growing up in this sprawling township in the era of gangsters and the ever-present danger and political turmoil. While she may have grown up in a household that did not have much in terms of material, love was in abundance.

She reflects on events that shaped her life, one being her beloved sister Trueblue’s horrific death at the hands of her boyfriend. Louw helped police to apprehend him. Even though this tragedy happened in 1972, when Louw was just 20, the sorrow of her loss is still evident.

Further pain came when Louw had to contend with an abusive and philandering boyfriend, who was also in the entertainment world, and, later, with an emotionally abusive husband who divorced her after 19 years of marriage.

Overall, she rejoices over the stellar career she has had as a singer in cabarets, musicals and as a solo entertainer, as well as a highly regarded actress in soapies, stage plays and feature films. She has been showered with awards for her talents. How many people can boast of performing and dancing on stage with Nelson Mandela! Or of having befriended Miriam Makeba? Or having been favoured by Walter Sisulu?

In the book, she laments past hurts, forgives those who wronged her, admits her own mistakes, affirms her faith in God and, most importantly, counts her blessings, particularly when she talks about her daughter Moratuoa and all those who have been there for her. Yes, she does open up about the infamous “spiked drink” incident when she was a judge on Idols.

This is a highly enjoyable book, with numerous hilarious reminisces.

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