Saturday, August 31, 2013

Josephine Muganiwa reads Mungoshi's latest book!

(a recent photo of Charles Mungoshi by Victor Dlamini) 
Charles Mungoshi’s new masterpiece; Barnching Streams Flow In The Dark, encourages everyone to carry out a reality check. Besides being a story about terminal illness, this novel celebrates life. It affirms that love is the greatest ingredient of life. Love covers all and provides hope no matter how bleak the situation is. While the narration is occasioned by the pain of discrimination, the narrator is spurred on by the memory of a loved friend from high school. In writing to Fungi, Serina relives her old days and purges the pain within her. The handling of the theme of love is to reveal its complexity. Loving hurts but... it also thrills! Meeting and parting is also part of the game. This book answers the classical questions: Is it possible for a man to love two women at the same time? What is love? Is it possible to fall in love with the idea of being in love? What is the place of polygamy? What is marriage? Is marriage the church certificate or the intertwining of lives? Is it possible to have a soul mate; the kind of relationship between MaDube and Serina’s father? This story is fluid and it carries you along like a river. I can still hear Saidi playing his sax in the sky, at the Great Conference. A must read for all!
+Josephine Muganiwa, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, August 2013.
Get your copy, for $18 by phoning: +263 774054341

Monday, August 26, 2013

NoViolet Bulawayo comes to Harare... with her novel

On the occasion of the publication of her novel, We Need New Names, recently nominated for the ManBooker Prize, Weaver Press and The British Council, Harare gladly invite you to meet NoViolet Bulawayo in discussion with Rumbi Katedza preceded by a reading. Date: Tuesday 27th August 2013, Time: 5:30- 7:00 pm, Venue: British Council, 16 Cork Road, Belgravia, Harare. RSVP: 308330/701658-60
+AND below my previous review from:

Title: We Need New Names
Author: NoViolet Bulawayo
Publisher and other details: Reagan Arthur Books, May 2013, Weaver Press, 290 pages
(Reviewed by Memory Chirere)
NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel, We Need New Names confirms the existence of a certain special tradition in the literature of Zimbabwe which cries for adequate recognition and evaluation.
Ever since Dambudzo Marechera of The House of Hunger’s “I got my things and left… I couldn’t have stayed in that House of Hunger where every morsel of sanity was snatched from you the way some kinds of bird snatch food from the very mouths of babes.” in 1978, there has been a quiet but sustained outpouring of narratives about leaving the homeland (Zimbabwe) because of crisis.

Marechera and his contemporaries and those immediately after him like Shimmer Chinodya, Alexander Kanengoni and Valentine Mazorodze pruduced various narratives about leaving home (then Rhodesia) to go either to join the war of liberation or to exile. These tally well with the legendary escape of current President Robert Mugabe himself and colleague Edgar Tekere, from troubled Rhodesia through Inyanga into Mozambique on foot to lift the war of liberation to a higher notch. There are many such stories in the public sphere.

And in more recent years, specifically dwelling on what is now called ‘the decade of Zimbabwean crisis,’ we have Christopher Mlalazi’s Many Rivers, Brian Chikwava’s Harare North, and the multiple voice compilation: Hunting in Foreign Lands, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s Shadows and now; NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, among others, writing on going away.

In all these stories ranging from the 1970s to the present, home is depicted as going through various forms of turmoil which expresses itself most through political instability. The central character, who is almost always a young fellow, flees home and country in search of an alternative existence.

However, this character remains double faced; looking at foreign territory with eyes of home and glancing back at home through the teary eyes of new experience and beginning to re-read ‘home’. The resultant chasm constantly tugs at one’s soul. However, to read NoViolet Bulawayo's new book is to take constant departures and arrivals, inside out and upside down until you lose count because she is constantly aware of the numerous points of view to the subject of going away from Zimbabwe. She is aware that the phenomenon that she is working on is actually in motion and that Zimbabwe will one day rest on any of her many intriguing sides.

To return home or to remain out here or to forget everything… is where you locate our character. To return home is to jump back into the fire and to accept defeat. To remain abroad, however, is to wallow in the invisibility of a little foreigner. To forget everything is not possible if you are as sensitive as NoViolet Bulawayo’s Darling Nonkululeko Nkala.  It is most ironical that at that very moment, our character from this kind of literature asks or fails to ask important questions about what exactly has happened or not happened to one’s people and country: How did it start? Who causes it? Who benefits from it? Are we certain that we see all of it for what it is?

From Marechera to Bulawayo, history may one day judge these stories against that rubric.

The mind of Darling is an encyclopedia bursting with minute details from; the distinct aroma and taste of guavas stolen from the backyards of a posh city suburb to the rigmarole of shanty town dwellers of Zimbabwe. And that kind of pregnancy of detail that you find in this novel, like the descriptions of the onset of Operation Murambatsvina, is one of its strengths:

“…the bulldozers appear boiling. But first before we see them, we hear them. Me and Thamu and Josephat and Ncane and Mudiwa and Verona are outside playing with More’s new football, and then we hear thunder. Then Ncane says, What is that? Then Josephat says,  It’s the rain. I say, No, it’s the planes. Then Maneru’s grandfather comes sprinting down Freedom Street without his walking stick, shouting, They are coming, Jesus Christ, they are coming! Everybody is standing on the street, neck craned, waiting to see. Then Mother shouts, Darling-comeintothehousenow! But then the bulldozers are already near big and yellow and terrible and mental teeth and spinning dust. The men driving the bulldozers are laughing. I hear the adults saying, Why why why, what have we done?”

NoViolet Bulawayo’s language, as in the blues, is both depressing and exhilarating. It invites you to laugh and cry at the same time:

“Look at them leaving in droves, the children of the land, just look at them leaving in droves. Those with nothing are crossing borders. Those with strength are crossing borders. Those with ambitions are crossing borders. Those with hopes are crossing borders. Those with loss are crossing borders. Moving, running, emigrating, going deserting, walking, quitting, flying, fleeing to all over, to countries whose names they cannot pronounce…”

And when they get to the destinations of choice, the Zimbabweans and fellow migrants find that there is no sweetness here either:

“And the jobs we worked, Jesus-Jesus-Jesus, the jobs we worked….We took scalding irons and ironed our pride flat. We cleaned toilets. We picked tobacco and fruit under the boiling sun until we hung out our tongues and panted like lost hounds. We butchered animals, slit throats, drained blood…holding our breaths like crocodiles under water, our minds on the money and never on our lives. Adamou got murdered by that beast of a machine that also ate three fingers of Sudan’s left hand… Ecuador fell from forty stories working on a roof and shattered his spine, screaming, Mis hijos! Mis hijos! on his way down.”

This novel juxtaposes a tumultuous Zimbabwe against a well fed and technologically advanced America as seen by a young and impressionable Zimbabwean girl. Darling discovers that Zimbabwe and America are worlds with two very different passwords. What Zimbabwe does not have materially, America offers but not for free! Closely looked at, America offers its own kind of turmoil to those (like Darling) who do not want to be second class citizens and who constantly claim that they have somewhere ‘my country, my people, our President, our language’ and other things.

The vivid backlash or maybe the ‘cruelty’ of this story is contained in poor teenage - mother-Chipo’s words from Zimbabwe in a telephone conversation with Darling:

“Just tell me one thing. What are you doing not in your country right now? Why did you run off to America, Darling Nonkhululekho Nkala, huh? Why did you just leave? If it’s your country, you have to love it to live in it and not leave it. You have to fight for it no matter what, to make it right. Tell me, do you abandon your house because it’s burning or do you find water to put out the fire? And if you leave it burning, do you expect the flames to turn into water and put themselves out? You left it, Darling, my dear, you left the house burning and you have the guts to tell me, in that stupid accent that you were not born with, that doesn’t even suit you, that this is your country?”

Chipo’s analysis may have its own problems but this and other acute questions raised by this novel, will mark it as one of the tightest rope walking narratives by a Zimbabwean. Zimbabweans, wherever they are today, will find out that this searing novel, begs the citizen’s position to the Zimbabwean question. The book is to be launched this May 2013 and the author is currently based in the US.

The first chapter to this novel, ‘Hitting Budapest’ won No Violet Bulawayo the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing when it was presented as a separate short story. Announcing Bulawayo as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a celebratory dinner held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the chair of judges and award-winning author Hisham Matar said: “The language of Hitting Budapest crackles. Here we encounter Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina and Sbho, a gang reminiscent of Clockwork Orange. But these are children, poor and violated and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight, it has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary. NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer who takes delight in language.”


Monday, August 19, 2013

The 'return' of Charles Mungoshi

Branching Streams Flow in the Dark By Charles Mungoshi, published in 2013 by Mungoshi Press, Harare, 165 pages, ISBN: 978 079 7444911, prize$18, phone: +263 774054341
(previewed By Memory Chirere)

This transcendental novel; Branching Streams Flow in the Dark, published by his family, marks the long awaited 'return' of leading Zimbabwean author, Charles Muzuva Mungoshi.

The prize winning author of Coming of The Dry Season, Waiting For The Rain and Kunyarara Hakusi Kutaura? who had been ‘silent’ ever since his major single publication, Walking Still in 1997, has chosen a special way of returning. As his wife, the acclaimed actress Jesesi Mungoshi states in the dedicatory note, ‘it took Charles over 20 years to write this book and he was still perusing through it when he fell into a coma on the 30th of April, 2010’.

He has thankfully recovered in time to see it in print.

It is therefore befitting that this book is about living beyond malady. During her darkest and loneliest moment, when her baby dies of AIDS and her husband runs out of the house and her mother is virtually unkind, Serina Maseko sees through herself and others, as if she were beyond pain and reproach. She is floating because during this period, before the advent of Anti Retro Viral Therapy use in the management of the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), being diagnosed as having the infection is an automatic death sentence.

Serina begins to write a very long and winding letter to a long - forgotten school mate, Fungisai Bare. In that letter, Serina forages through her turbulent life and that of people around her, confessing her sins and confronting all the ghosts in her life, searching for certain key moments to hold on to…

“That laugh! That echoing percussion laugh of his! It made me a little sad and excited and extremely nostalgic for something I-didn’t-know-I-ever-had-but-which-I-suddenly-missed all together at the same time, as if it were something half-remembered from a very distant and dusk-hued place, where you could see as in a dream hardly-formed stick-figures in sunlit-dust-motes silhouette and before you could touch them, they would all dissolve and disappear before you – except for a lingering where-am-I sensation left in you…That laugh! You don’t know how much I rode on it and it took me where I fantasized that you never happened and he was all alone with me on this trip – but – BUT – you would suddenly appear! You put the fear of thunder and lightning in me. I don’t forget how you shredded Ketina Zvapano to tear-soaked shame-drenched rags when you lit upon her after you had heard that she’d been walking – or showing? – your Leo the secret ancient bush toe-path up to the sacred never-dry-up spring in the old hills!

And then Serina comes across one Saidi on a city bus. It is just by chance! As you read on, you want Serina and Saidi to fall in love. You tell your foolish self that this is love at first sight! It is because Serina and Saidi are forlorn because they have AIDS. But Serina soon learns that Saidi is and has been much closer to her than she has ever known. Saidi leads Serina to her long lost father – the evergreen Samuel Maseko. Saidi leads Serina to her runaway husband, the brilliant coward - Michael Gwemende. Saidi leads Serina to his own mother, Samuel Maseko’s first wife - the indefatigable Stella Mkandhla Dube! Finally, Saidi leads Serina to a path into herself.

All these ‘streams’ begin to branch into what was threatening to remain unknown. Here, as in the novels of Jose Saramago, especially Blindness, seeing can be both disease and recuperation:

“… If you were looking at Mother looking at Father, then Father appeared to be dirty, uncouth, uncivilised (Mother’s favourite word), backward – and you found yourself lost in seeing him like that… you would convince yourself that this was your original observation of him... on the other hand, if you were looking at Father looking at Mother, you saw shame and falseness right through everything, starting first and foremost, with the highly out - of – key voice shrilling for attention so that it jarred on the nerves like a child running a razor blade through velvet skin… Mother would not hear Father. She would simply see her poor husband, Samuel Maseko, as an also-ran, second-hand sort of lost soul…”

You come away from this novel with a feeling that the river of life stretches from the familiar, and branches into the far away and subterranean streams of eternity.

Get your copy, for $18 by phoning: +263 774054341

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Literary magazine for Zimbabwe

The Write Mag Call for Articles
Published by Write Africa, and edited by a renowned Zimbabwean author, literary critic, lecturer and blogger, The Write Mag is a new quarterly literary magazine whose key focus is on promoting African literature. The magazine will be produced in print, with an online version available on the Write Africa Website in due course.

This is a call for articles to the first issue of the magazine, which will have an initial print run of 5000 copies and distributed around Zimbabwe and exhibited at major local Book Fairs. Authors, lecturers, teachers, critics, reviewers and other interested individuals are invited to submit articles of any length, and on any theme, based on the following broad and sub-categories.

1. Book Reviews
-New Book Reviews,
-Blast from the past book reviews, Local, regional and International
- The Bookstore and Featured book prices
2. Publishing information
-Publishing options- traditional, self, co-publishing, etc.
- Publishing platforms: print, e-publishing, etc.
 -Featured publisher in Zimbabwe, Africa or The whole world,
-Publishing Advice 
-Publishing Agents
3. Author Profiles and interviews
-Established Authors (living and dead, with priority on 1. Zimbabwean, 2. African and 3. International authors in that specific order)
-Upcoming authors, but with a growing profile and some form of published work or making the waves
-Pictures, works, interviews, etc.
4. Literary works
-Previously Published work excepts
-Unpublished work excepts or full content
+ short stories
+ poetry
+ plays
+ Novels and Novellas (only excerpts will be published)
5. Study guides and information on Literature
-For Students in High Schools
-For University students
6. Literature and ICTs
-ICT hardwares, software and applications
-How to information- on creating, managing, using marketing e-platforms
-Featured platforms
8. Features
-Any arts related issues that have a bearing on the literary arts or artistes.
-Other organisations and initiatives that are making the arts headlines
9. Intellectual property
-Copyright and intellectual property

 Submission Guidelines
The Deadline for this call is 21 August 2013. Articles received after this date will be considered for future editions.
Send all articles to:
All inquiries: Lawrence Hoba (Write Africa): +263772939136/
-Write Africa will not be paying for this issue, but all contributors will receive 5 copies of the magazine.

-Submission does not entail subsequent publication as this is a competitive process, but the editorial will make an effort to communicate with all individuals who submit articles and acknowledge receipt of submitted articles as well as the status of their articles.