The lasting aftereffects of the Liberation War on Zimbabwe's society creates the backdrop for Tsitsi Dangarembga's new novel, "This Mournable Body". The story is set in 1999, 10 years after the war, taking a look at the daily life of Tambudzai Sigauke, a Zimbabwean woman who is trying to get ahead. It is part of Dangarembga's groundbreaking trilogy that began with her award-winning novel "Nervous Conditions", but can be read as a standalone book. Dangarembga spoke to Africa: Stories in the 55 about this poignant look at Tambudzai, a Zimbabwean everywoman.
Life is tough for university graduateTambudzai Sigauke-- she is sick of being taken advantage of at work, but she can't seem to catch a break... and then there is her living situation and rural family putting pressure on her. But societal pressure related to the aftermath of the Liberation War seems to ultimately undermine Tambudzai. Will she recover?
Novelist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga speaks to Africa:Stories in the 55 about her strong female characters, and the lasting effects of war on society.
The perils for Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa personified in Sue Nyathi's new novel, The Gold-Diggers
In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, Zimbabwean author Sue Nyathi delves into the dangers of crossing into South Africa illegally in the hopes of finding work and a better life. The Gold-Diggers explores the lives of six people who illegally cross the border in a combi, or van, and how their hopes and dreams-- independently from each other-- are thwarted as they try to start their lives in South Africa.
For characters like Portia and her son Nkosi, life is a struggle, but finding the right people to help you makes a difference. Lindani, a young woman, uses her body to get to South Africa, becoming a vulnerable migrant as she struggles to live. Guglethu, a little girl sent by her grandmother to find her mother, never makes it to the meeting point.
"When people come in illegally, there's so many dangers that they face, and I wanted to highlight this as well, in terms of the desperation that propels people to come into a country using this kind of method," says Nyathi, a Zimbabwean writer based in South Africa.
Listen to Sue Nyathi speak about developing her characters and reading an excerpt from The Gold-Diggers.
Honoring those who lived through Zimbabwe's Gukurahundi in Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's novel, House of Stone
In Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's debut novel, House of Stone, readers are regaled with a story of the Mlambo family, as told by Zamani, their lodger and a master manipulator. In his quest to re-write his own personal history, he delves into the lives of 'surrogate parents' Abednego and Mama Agnes, and unravels their family secrets that are seemingly tightly wound amidst the backdrop of the post-liberation massacre in Ndebeleland, the Gukurahundi. Zimbabwean author Tshuma speaks to RFI's Africa: Stories in the 55, about the impact writing this book has had on her, and how the characters reflect the spirit of Zimbabwe.
Tshuma says that the novel came from a desire to examine first-hand accounts of the violence, the disappearances and the deaths in Ndebeleland in western and southwestern Zimbabwe during the early 1980s.
"We speak about the Liberation War all the time. But when it comes to the genocide, it is always a matter of shutting it down," she says, adding that by not addressing the psychological, social and communal issues, by not acknowledging people have died, healing cannot begin.
House of Stone unwinds tightly held secrets, touching on the role that Black Jesus, a fictionalized version of Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe's current agricultural minister, played during the Gukurahundi. Ultimately, can history be rewritten? Can personal history be rewritten? Tshuma examines this and more, as she presents Zimbabwe's past that some find hard to remember.
Kenyan writer Kiprop Kimutai's short story speaks about the privilege of wealth in a queer environment
In his short story "The Man at the Bridge", Kenyan writer Kiprop Kimutai explores the conflicted feelings of a closeted gay man-- a story that has garnered the 2018 Gerald Kraak Fiction prize. RFI's Africa: Stories in the 55 speaks to Kimutai about his inspiration for this piece.
Does trauma define the person? Aminatta Forna's latest novel, Happiness, explores love and loss
The chance meeting of a Ghanaian psychiatrist and an American urban biologist tracking foxes in London sets the pace for Happiness, the latest novel by award-winning writer Aminatta Forna. Does experiencing a traumatic event damage a person forever? Dr. Attila Asare, bucking traditional trauma research, examines his theory partially through flashbacks for the reader, as well as his attention to a case that he is indirectly tied to.
Noted trauma specialist Dr. Attila Asare comes to London for a conference, plans to visit a relative and see an old flame. He is recovering from the recent death of his wife. Scientist Jean Turane is tracking foxes in London for a project when she becomes involved in Asare's life. She engages a team she has created of fox spotters-- immigrants to the UK who work at night as street cleaners, doormen -- to look for his lost young relative on the streets of London.
Forna sets up the back story of Dr Attila Asare, a civilian trauma expert, as she reads an excerpt from her novel, Happiness. Loss and newfound love come together on the page in her latest work.