Ike and Phindi by Sipho Sepamla
In Ike and Phindi by Sipho Sepamla we have the theme of control, marriage, appearance, materialism, domestic violence, class and struggle. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Sepamla may be exploring the theme of control. From the very start of Ike and Phindi’s marriage there has been a degree of control. Firstly Phindi, as suspected by the local people, controlled events on her marriage day. With Ike driving to her helicopter even though he was only metres away. It is as though everything was for appearance. Phindi if anything was displaying her father’s wealth. As though this was important. However Ike does seem to be swayed by Nyawuza’s wealth and sees the importance of appearance to others. Ike may be one of those people who believes in the significance of materialism. He does after all buy things every week for Phindi, who also appears to be believe in the importance of materialism.
The level of control changes in the story after Ike and Phindi get married with Ike beating Phindi on two occasions. One occasion in particular is savage. With Phindi having an injured body and eye. If anything there is a real struggle in the marriage but Phindi always returns to Ike after he has bought something for her. The brooch being an example of this. It is as though Phindi puts her preference for material goods over her own physical and mental wellness. Something that she may later regret. Even though Ike may seem to change, as readers we can never be sure. For example Ike does not like being questioned by Phindi whether he is drinking or not.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which may be important. The TV, washing machine and brooch suggest just how important materialism is to Phindi. When she is showered with gifts she forgets about Ike hitting her. The men who taunt Ike about Phindi working late may also be symbolically significant. These men play on Ike’s insecurities about his marriage to Phindi. According to the men a man should be in charge of the relationship between a man and a woman. It is because of this that Ike ends up beating Phindi. Nyawuza’s wealth may be the very reason that Ike married Phindi. Having had an uneasy life buying things through the back door. Ike may believe that he can join the middle classes and buy over the counter through marriage to Phindi. There is nothing unusual about this as many people believe they can improve their lives by marrying someone who is a class above them.
The end of the story is interesting as the narrator gives every appearance that all is well in Ike and Phindi’s marriage. Phindi for her part seems to have forgiven Ike for his violence towards her and Ike does not look like he is drinking anymore. However the reader is left with no real assurances that Ike may not beat Phindi again. There is no real certainty of this. If anything Phindi has been restrained in her questioning of Ike when it comes to his violence towards her. Which may leave many readers to suggest that Ike still has control over Phindi. He may have joined the middle classes with all his material possessions but he could possibly still be the same man. Only time will tell if Ike has changed or whether something else might happen in the marriage which ends up with Ike beating Phindi again. The future of the relationship remains unknown but for the time being, as the narrator suggests, all appears to be well between Ike and Phindi.