Saturday, September 8, 2012

CONQUER: a novel on albinism and the abuse of the boy-child

Author: Rudo Bingepinge
Library of Congress Control Number:2011961537
Reviwed by : Josephine Jothams -

One of Zimbabwe’s up coming writers Rudo Bingepinge-Dzenga has just published her second novel CONQUER. The story balances two major themes, the stigma around albinism and the sexual abuse of the boy child. While a lot of work has been done to educate the girl child and empowering the girl child to speak out, a lot more needs to be done for the boy child to speak out against abuse. Boys tend to “ take it like men “ yet the destructive effects later on in life can never be undermined as portrayed by one of Conquer’s leading characters Booker a medical doctor. On the other hand September –Rain represents the stigmatized albinos. Society is quick to stigmatize albinos without understanding the genetics behind it. We are a more exposed and educated generation yet when it comes to albinism we know very little “ some still spit after shaking hands/ meeting an albino so that they do not give birth to albino babies. In Tanzania albinos are safer at special boarding schools because they are still killed for muti”

Readers who read Dzenga’s first novel The Return or watched the short film version of the same, are aware that the writer is able to get the reader to cry , fight and laugh with the characters. She has a way with humor yet able to pull the reader in and out of to the serious themes at hand. CONQUER is a well thought out drama that has twists and turns that will keep the reader asking for more.

The reader is taken through the hard times that September-Rain goes through and her resilience to be accepted as a human being and not be judged by her pigmentation. By portraying Booker as an intelligent young doctor the writer makes two major points here : even boys are not safe from sexual abuse lets educate and empower the boy child too, the effects of sexual child abuse are often so severe that no amount of education can cleanse one of it. Counseling and confronting the problem is essential to healing.

Dzenga says “ My children’s pediatrician of many years was an abino,I have albino, friends and family I am inspired by their courage and determination to not let skin pigmentation come between them and their dreams. That is where the albinism theme comes from. My mom is a retired nurse cum evangelist in the United Methodist Church. I am often under pressure to preach as well as she does. Writing is my ministry I am particularly passionate about issues around women and children. I am happy that because of all government and NGO efforts a lot more girls are opening up about abuse and reporting the perpetrators of such violence but this does not mean that our boys are safe.Iam so grateful to Culture Fund Zimbabwe, I was one of the first beneficiaries. My novel The Return which focuses on the challenges women face after doing time in prison was translated in to Shona and Ndebele and adopted in to a radio drama with funds from Culture fund. In 2008 the short film version of The Return was screened at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival. The support form Culture fund made me confident in the arts , I have buried the term “I can’t” , I have just agreed to write a children’s book. I am working on it and hope to publish a kid’s series that is interactive so that even other children can contribute their stories . I hope to launch the first adventures series for kids by the end of this year.”

Bingepinge–Dzenga is a born avid writer who started writing at the age of 9 but her first story was published at 14 by Step Magazine. Readers may remember her from local TV dramas from the 90s Wakavimbisa Wani. Rage of Innocence and short film Who is in Charge? Bingepinge-Dzenga is passionate about public speaking, drama and writing, she recently adopted schools from her home town of Dangamvura Mutare to promote writing and public speaking at primary school level. When she read Joyce Simango’s Zviuya zviri Mberi she knew she wanted to write. She is inspired by Virginia Phiri and looks up to King Dube who gave her the first big break on television.

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