Power by Hope Mathumbu
In Power by Hope Mathumbu we have the theme of faith, power, innocence, jealousy, sibling rivalry and friendship. Narrated in the first person by Mathumbu herself the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Mathumbu may be exploring the theme of faith and the power of faith over an individual. Though Mathumbu wants to go to Jenny’s birthday party she still nonetheless understands the importance of faith in her and her family’s lives. She knows that her mother has a powerful faith regardless of what she might think of others. Though some critics might suggest that Mathumbu’s mother is hypocritical when it comes to Auntie Grace. She does after all never visit her home and does not allow for Mathumbu to babysit for Auntie Grace. If anything it is possible that Mathumbu’s mother’s faith is superficial and she judges other people and considers them not to be as good as her.
It may also be a case that Mathumbu is exploring the theme of innocence. Mathumbu doesn’t really know why she can’t babysit for Auntie Grace and doesn’t fully understand that her mother might consider Auntie Grace to be shameful because she has two children from two different men. Jenny’s relationship with Mathumbu is also worth mentioning. Their friendship is interracial. With Jenny being Asian and Mathumbu being African. If anything they overcome any difficulties they might incur due to their backgrounds and accept each other for who they are. Even if both girls might at times find the other strange. Mathumbu’s relationship with her sister, Naledi, is interesting as it would appear that Naledi is jealous of Mathumbu. Particularly when Mathumbu faints and Oliver sits beside her on the way to the party at Violet’s home.
There may be some symbolism in the story that might be important. The setting, the church, could symbolize the coming together of people as one or at least pretending to be one. This is especially true for Mathumbu’s mother. Mathumbu’s hair might also be significant as it is not as well looked after as other people’s hair. This could suggest that Mathumbu’s mother does not have the money for Mathumbu to style her hair or it may symbolize Mathumbu’s mother’s desire to stay connected with Africa. Either way Mathumbu does not like it and wants to look like others in the congregation. Mathumbu’s favourite song, ‘There is Power in the Blood’ may also have some significance as it lifts Mathumbu from her seat and she feels at one with God.
The end of the story is interesting as Mathumbu forgets all about Jenny’s birthday party when Oliver sits beside her in the car. There is no disputing that Mathumbu has a crush on Oliver. Even though Naledi has suggested he is gay because he wears unique clothes. This never effects Mathumbu and she doesn’t believe that Oliver is gay. As to whether Oliver is gay is difficult to say and it may be a case that Naledi is again jealous of Mathumbu and does not wish for her to be happy. Any faith that Mathumbu has is also restored by the fact that Oliver is in the car with her. It is only a small thing but Mathumbu accepts it as an act of God. From the beginning of the story right to the end God has played a significant part in Mathumbu’s life or at least Mathumbu thinks so.