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The Hlomu Series - The Story South Africa Fell in Love With

“Noma ungangichizela ntombi kodwa uyoze ungiqome” (“You can snub me now, but you'll love me eventually”). This is the first statement by the character named Mqhele to the woman who captured his heart in the first chapter, in the first book of the Hlomu series.

True to his prediction, the young woman (also the leading lady), Mahlomu, does eventually fall in love with the Zulu taxi driver who stole her heart - and ours. And it makes for a whirlwind love story with everything romance readers enjoy: betrayal, heartache, passion, and danger!

Written by Dudu Busani-Dube, a South African self-publishing sensation who was born and raised in Kwa-Mashu, KwaZulu-Natal, the six-book series first took South Africa by storm in 2017 and has had us hooked ever since!

Busani-Dube has come a long way from chasing the latest scoop as a journalist, with much of her time now taken up by interviews and book signings. Having chosen to self-publish her books, the award-winning author notes that her inspiration behind the successful novel series was simply to write for her people: “We can’t complain about people not buying our books when we aren’t writing for them”.

The talented storyteller did not shy away from the challenges of self-publishing; on the contrary, she only considered talking to traditional publishers when her novels were already making numbers – all through her own efforts of selling copies from the boot of her car and word-of-mouth marketing. Even though her choice to self-publish was a resounding success, the author admits that in the future she will likely publish via a publishing house because the giant undertaking of self-publishing isn’t particularly to her taste. Personally, we can’t help but admire the hard work and dedication that brought us this love story!

In her novels, Busani-Dube breathes new life into the ‘boy-meets-girl’ romance trope, which can be so overdone, so cliché – yet in the hands of Busani-Dube, it is not! This love story is closer to home. And because the story is based in Johannesburg, it encompasses realities South Africans identify with, such as the issues we face; the places we visit; and the characters we know well from our own lives (picture your uncle, the one who no one really knows what he does, but who always has money? Sound like we’re describing one of the Zulu brothers from the book?).

Divided into six novels, the series tells the story of Mahlomu, a journalist who moves from her rural hometown to Jozi, the city of lights. Working for one of the biggest media houses in Joburg, Hlomu is happy and comfortable with her way of life. Or so she thinks. It is only until she is swept off her feet by a mysterious taxi driver that she begins to experience real life, real love, and the real Jo’burg.

In the first book, Hlomu, The Wife, we’re introduced to Hlomu, who falls in love with Mqhele Zulu, a dark and intriguing man, and a contrast to Hlomu’s bright energy in every way. While Hlomu is wary of some of Mqhele’s personality traits and his dangerous past, he creeps into her heart and brings with him his seven brothers and a LOT of family drama. Despite this, the couple remains strong in their love and their resolve to build the Zulu empire.

The second book, Zandile, The Resolute, focuses on Nkosana Zulu (the eldest of the Zulu brothers), and sees Hlomu step back as the main focus of the series (even though she is still the main character in the lives of the Zulu brothers), focusing on Nkosana and allowing for his wife, Zandile (recently out of prison), to rekindle the love with her family, with the family associates, and the Zulu brothers. As Busani-Dube would have it, their love is a South African adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, with Zandile and Nkosana as the star-crossed lovers whose families forbid them to be. Once again, however, love conquers all as Zandile and Nkosana manage to remain strong enough to overcome all odds together.

The third novel of the series introduces another female counterpart of the Zulu brothers, Naledi: His Love (the love of Qhawe). Qhawe meets his Tswana princess in a parking lot and the two have an instant connection. The daughter of a village chief, Naledi, attempts to come to terms with filling the shoes of Qhawe’s former lover, while simultaneously trying to fall in line with the life of being a Zulu wife. Like the other wives, Naledi must learn the value of loyalty and family. Needless to say, love continues to triumph, with Qhawe and his Tswana Princess stand sturdy in their devotion to one another.

Iqunga, the fourth novel of the series, focuses on the Zulu lineage. The book depicts a chance encounter with an old man and the brothers’ escapades, as they seek to rid themselves of an ancestral curse. It switches between past and present, and of all the books, provides the deepest insight into how the Zulu family morphed over time into bad habits and dangerous ways.

The penultimate book in the series is called Mess, and it’s the book that broke our hearts. Busani-Dube takes us on an emotional roller-coaster, as we focus on Mqoqi’s story. Mqoqi Zulu grapples with being true to himself and the weight of the honour he must bring the family. His life is detailed, and we learn of the turmoil that plagues him. Through a series of events, Mqoqi tragically meets his death, and the Zulu brothers are shattered. Despite the heartbreak of losing Mqoqi, the Zulu family pulls together and manages to strengthen their ties. We advise that you keep a box of tissues on the ready while reading because you’re going to need it!

The last novel of the series is called, The End, and was recently published in August of this year! Busani – Dube ends the series by giving insight to the lives of the Zulu brothers and their spouses. The narrative focuses on the pain, suffering, loss, and triumph of the Zulu brothers and how they will continue to grow, but only as a unit, succeeding collectively, as they always have.

The Hlomu series tells of a love story familiar to South Africans; familiar to home. And when it comes to the characteristics that make up a great love story, this series encompassed them all – and then some! Busani-Dube penned stories that South Africans fell in love with, which eventually saw it picked up by Showmax and turned into a gripping television series. And even though our beloved author has decided to close the chapter on the lives of Mahlomu and the eight Zulu brothers, they will live on in our bookshelves, and our hearts, forever.

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