In the novel Nothing but the Truth, many differences are seen between Thando and Mandisa. These differences are seen through their different cultural understandings and their relationships with their fathers. Thando and Mandisa both also have very different views on the Truth and reconciliation commission (amnesty) hearing.
In the play, the character of Thando is presented to us as a loving and caring character. Her father, Sipho, in South Africa, raises her. He is very traditional and has instilled the same teachings into Thando. Thando’s cultural roots are present throughout the play. You can see this in the way she mourns her uncles death and refuses at first to go out with Mandisa to Johannesburg. Sipho and Thando also arrange for a cultural funeral which includes the slaughtering of an ox. Thando’s hospitality towards Mandisa and her constant use of African phrases(“Ndyintombi…,”tata”, “malome”) displays her traditional African roots throughout the play . Labola is also mentioned which is part of traditional African culture.
Mandisa, however, is presented to us as almost the opposite to Thando. Mandisa is shown to us as an modern fashion designer who can be selfish. She, unlike Mandisa is outspoken and isn’t afraid to express her opinions even when she is in a home with people she just met. Mandisa is also insensitive to cultural, South African way of living. This is seen in the play when she says to Mandisa: “Girl! He won’t allow you!” when Thando turns her down when she was asked to accompany her to Johannesburg. She also turns her “Makhaya” surname to “Mckay” and does not understand isiXhosa(she keeps asking Thando to translate what her uncle says). It is evident that her cultural roots are lost. Her fathers body had been cremated which was not typical of South African tradition and Mandisa only mourns her fathers death for 2 weeks. Mandisa does not understand that South Africa is not England and is insensitive to the Sipho when he feels violated that his brothers body had been created. She responded to him by insensitively saying : “that’s what everybody does in England.” Mandisa and Thando both however love to be called “African Princess”
The relationship that Thando has with Sipho is that of a very obedient daughter who carries out her duties. She rejects Mandisa’s invitation to Johannesburg because her father wouldn’t allow it and never does anything without the consent of Sipho(“I’ll have to ask tata first”). The duties that she carries out are seen when she doesn’t leave the house without preparing a meal for her father first. She values her traditions and explains the traditions of mourning to Mandisa saying that her father would expect them to “show some respect for atleast a month as children”. Her obedience is also shown when she says : “I live under his roof and for as long as I live here, I have to live by his rules.” Her attitude towards her father is respectful and obedient.
Mandisa, having being brought up In Engand, away from her cultural roots is very different from Thando. She is not affected by Sipho feeling violated by his brothers cremation and retorts: “Oh this is ridiculous!, I didn’t come to argue about the ashes.” Mandisa also tries to change Thandos mind about not going to Johannesburg with her “You don’t have to do what pleases him.” Her independence and tendency of speaking her mind and not caring about others perception of her, makes her seem to be insensitive and disrespectful towards the older generation.
Thando and Mandisa also have different views of the TRC hearing and don’t agree on how the amnesties were being dealt with. Mandisa’s views are unsympathetic towards the TRC because she is angry at the fact thatsomeone can commit murder and still be forgiven without being given justice. Her view is cynical and her talk of revenge shows an unsympathetic side to her character. She thinks that the concept of Ubuntu is “giving in too easily” and that the amnesty process is too lenient. Her vengeful side is shown when she agrees with Sipho when he says that the minister of security should be judged by a black judge and that he should serve prison for many years when Sipho was drunk. Her answer was always : “yes”, “that’s more I like it”, “Exactly.” Mandisa believes that the government has ‘sold out’ for ‘international approval’ and has not considered the peoples need for revenge and that full disclosure was not given at the amnesty hearings(she points out that it is still not known who gave Craig Williomson his order) and argues that there was an “outcry against him receiving amnesty.”
Thando on the other hand, works at the TRC and has a very positive behavior towards the process although she can see the dirt to it . “One gets confused sometimes especially when so many lies are told.” She believes that it was the wrong thing to do to be vengeful-“Where would revenge get us besides more violence?” She personally believes that re-building the nation is what matters most. Thando embraces forgiveness: “If all those who suffered can forgive, so can you.” She also contradicts to Mandisa’s accusation of the TRC being too easy by reminding her that some people such as Derby-Lewis had been punished.
Although there are many differences between Thando and Mandisa, the sisters also share many similarities. African heritage is important to both of them- they both enjoy being called African princess by their fathers and Mandisa refers to SA as “home” – “I am happy to be home.” She also speaks of listening to stories about home. Thando’s defensive and quick response to Mandisa when she disrespects their lifestyle “show some respect for our tradition” shows her protective and possessiveness of her African roots. Like Mandisa, Thando is also an independent thinker. This is present throughout the play when Thando is always contradicting to whatever Mandisa says about the amnesty “Some people like Derby-Lewis have been punished” and her open-mindness is shown when she explains to her father that some black people in SA are also practicing cremation in todays times. Both sisters are so different, yet so alike.