Sunday, January 19, 2014

Only the survivor lives to face the vagaries of the day

Title: Kusara Kunze Huona
Author: Colette Choto Mutangadura
Publisher: Zimbabwe women Writers, 2013
pp105, isbn: 978-0-7974-5679-2
Colette Mutangadura's latest Shona novel, Kusara Kunze Huona is to date one of the very few fictional narratives in the Shona language to dwell extensively on what has come to be known as Zimbabwe’s decade of crisis. This is a period around 1998 to 2008. Whichever way it is considered, this Zimbabwean crisis is characterised by political strife, serious economic meltdown, an acute brain drain and the general collapse of public amenities that the country suffered.

An urban based widow and grandmother, vaHazvinei is caught up in this serious crisis. All her sons and their wives and all her daughters and their husbands fall victim, one after the other, to the Aids pandemic, leaving her with their numerous children  in the tiny two rooms of her four roomed old house in Joburg lines, Mbare Harare. There are some lodgers in the other two rooms and in this crisis, they pay her once in a long-long while.

Kusara Kunze Huona, a Shona saying precisely means that only those who survive live to face the vagaries of the day. This is exactly what happens to vaHazvinei. At a time when even the able bodied have nowhere to turn, the old lady swallows her lifelong pride and goes out to beg at Mbare Musika, with some of her grand children in tow.

Then one day she comes back home to find her fourteen year old grandson in the process of raping her seven year old granddaughter! The boy is from vaHazvinei's late daughter and the girl is from her late son's side. Will vaHazvinei report the poor boy to the police? Will vaHazvinei tell her injured granddaughter to keep quiet about it all? Will the girl’s school teacher keep quiet when she learns about this?

The marauding boy storms out returning only in the middle of the night, then going away for good to join the growing gangs of criminals of impoverished Harare. Soon he is into pickpocketting, carjacking, prostitution, drug abuse and the other numerous vices.

Meanwhile, the crisis rages on and there is Operation Murambatsvina, the political violence, the fast track land reform and the curious stories about the raping of men by women and vaHazvinei is caught in between. Will she survive with half a dozen orphans in Mbare? And… from nowhere, a friend of her late daughter bumps into the old lady.

Mutangadura is a traditional writer in that when you read her text, it feels like you are listening to a friend sitting on the other side of the hearth, telling a story. Her Shona language rings with the clear clarity associated with Shona griots. The novel begins abruptly with: VaHazvinei vakamuka ndokusaidzira magumbeze kumakumbo. Chimba chavo chekuMajubheki chakanga chasakara zvaisemesa. Vakagwabvura musoro wavo zvine simba vachiedza kunyaradza kuvava nokuswinya kwawainge woita. Mupumbuchena uyu akakwenya zvokuti dai raiva ganda rechidiki kana ropa ringadai rakaerera, asi nokuda kwokusharuka ganda ravo rakanga ratindivarara uyewo rasvava zvokuti ropa rakange rave shoma. (Old Hazvinei woke up with a start and pushed the blankets down to her feet. Her blasted house in Joburg lines was now old and filthy. She scratched her head vigorously, trying to silence some irritation. The old fellow scratched so hard that had it been young skin, blood could have oozed. Now her skin was old and wrinkled, betraying the little blood underneath.)

Mutangadura can be very dramatic, in a traditional Shona way:  Mbuya vakabuda panze kuti vaende kuchimbuzi. Vakatambirwa netsvina isina akamboona. Ndove yevanhu asi kunge danga renguruve, iro zimweya rinounza nhunzi dzorufu kase. Kwakange kusina mvura musiyo. Chembere yakaombera maoko, “Zvino ndizvo zvinonzi Harare izvi?...” (Grandma went out intending to go to the toilet. She was met with lots of human dung. Human dung that looked like pig dung and the smell that brings death everywhere. There was no tape water on that day. The old lady clapped her hands in exasperation and cried, “So this is what Harare has become?...”

However, the old woman’s thoughts as she watches a country in transition remain an upward quest. She is constantly looking for anything useful in this strife; a whisper, a pat on the back, some pumpkins, news about those in the Diaspora, dreams about a piece of land of her own, the smell of perfume that reminds her of any of her long gone children, awkward political slogans...She is always listening and wondering which side is right or wrong. Which side will triumph…when, why and how? Her mind is an encyclopaedia.

Published in several anthologies mostly by Zimbabwe Women Writers, Collette Choto Mutangadura was born on 19 March 1945 in Hwedza and has a lot of work accredited to her name. Mutangadura’s first novel Rinonyenga Rinhwarara – ‘A beggar humbles himself’, was published in 1983 by Mambo Press in association with the Literature Bureau is a love story. In 2007, she compiled traditional recipes by women from around Goromonzi area about 50 km east of Harare, Zimbabwe.  It is called ‘Kubika Machikichori' Shona for preparing delicious meals.

Her second novel, Rutendo: The Chief’s Granddaughter (2009) is about Rutendo, the most promising daughter of in an African village who comes home on holiday from a white man’s college to find her grandfather, the chief’s homestead guarded by white soldiers. It is during the bitter war of liberation in Rhodesia. Suddenly Rutendo's romance with the liberation movement in the village seems compromised as her heart wonders off into a white soldiers’ tent. She falls in love with the white soldier, Barry!

The author is one of the founders of Zimbabwe Women Writers (ZWW). Formed in 1990, (ZWW) is an arts and culture trust concerned particularly with the promotion of women’s literature in Zimbabwe.

Kusara Kunze Huona is particularly compelling and a must reader for those who want an insider’s insights into Zimbabwe’s so called decade of crisis.
(Reviewed by Memory Chirere)

Monday, January 13, 2014

University of Zimbabwe land conference: call for papers

Conference Theme: “Dialoguing Land and Indigenisation in Zimbabwe and the developing countries: A Multi-disciplinary Approach”

 Dates: 13th – 15th August 2014 Conference proceedings

 Venue: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe





1. Background:
Cognisant of the recent ideas generated by Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and its regional and international impact, The Faculty of Arts, University of Zimbabwe, will host an international conference that will provide a platform for academics, researchers and post-graduate students from the University of Zimbabwe and other institutions, including Agricultural practitioners, to present well-researched papers, insights and case studies on the above theme. The aim of the conference is to provide an opportunity to academics and professionals from various fields of Human, Agricultural and Social Sciences to discuss Land and Indigenisation in ways that promote inter/cross-disciplinary interests and research. The conference’s objective is to dialogue on the afore-mentioned issues with a view to enhancing synergies across disciplines in serving their respective communities and nations. The book Zimbabwe takes back its land (2013) opened up debate internationally on Zimbabwe’s fast track land reform programme. This conference continues the debate. The authors Dr J. Hanlon, Dr J. Manjengwa and Ms T Smart of the book will be keynote speakers.

2. Motivation:
The richness of the Human and Social and Agricultural Sciences is embedded in the diverse material, cultural, spiritual and imaginative spaces manifest through languages, literatures, ideologies, religions, historical records, identities, politics and policy among other forms of media. For this reason, problematic conceptions and perceptions surrounding the subjects such as Land and Indigenisation within a global context embedded in the conference theme call for dialogue from a multi-disciplinary approach. Such dialogue is envisaged to dispel myths, enhance understanding, sharpen insights and court co-operation and reinvigoration of academia on issues that directly impact on people’s daily livelihoods and experiences in present day societies. It is also important to explore the idea of Human, Agricultural and Social Sciences as the vibrant cultural repertoires of many communities the world over, especially on matters pertaining to worldviews on Land and Indigenisation.

Papers are expected to be submitted in good time for presentation at the “Faculty of Arts International Conference which will take place from 13th to 15th August 2014 hosted by the Faculty of Arts, University of Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. This conference emphasises the need to academically engage each other’s presentation when dealing with how Human, Agricultural and Social Sciences approach issues of Land and Indigenisation in Zimbabwe and the developing countries within a global context.

3. Themes/Topics:

We will consider abstracts and papers dealing with, but not restricted to, the following topics

3.1 Information and Human Sciences

Information and knowledge management on Land and Indigenisation

·         Research trends on Land and Indigenisation within a global context

·         The politics of knowledge production in Human and Social Sciences

·         Ethics and Philosophy on Land and Indigenisation within a global context

·         Human and Social Sciences, Politics and the Law on Land and Indigenisation

·         Land, war, genocide and peace

·         Land, HIV/Aids and sustainable social development

·         Land, the Media and culture

·         Film and media on Land and Indigenisation within a global context

·         Visual arts, Land and Indigenisation

·         Performing Arts on Land and Indigenisation

·         Technology, Land Use and Management

·         Land and Urban Development

·         Managing the political economy of land in a global context

·         Case Studies

3.2 Land, Languages and Literary Discourses

 Traditional literature and land

·         Indigenous literature and land

·         Contemporary literature and land

·         Children’s literature and land

·         Women writers and land

·         Diaspora literature and land

·         African culture and land

·         Theories of literature and interpretation of ideologies on land and indigenisation within a  global context

·         Land, naming and identity

·         Land and Interface of the oral and the written literature

·         Memory, imagination and narrating the nation

3.3 Religion and Land

Theological perspectives on Land and Indigenisation within a global context

·         Land, identity and spirituality

·         Land and disability

·         Religion, law and land

·         Tradition and land

3.4 Land, Languages and Cross-border Identities

Land, Language and mobile communities

·         Land and citizenship

·         Land and trans-frontier  management

3.5 Land and Indigenisation: Connections and disconnections

Gendering Identities in African Arts and Humanities Studies

·         Connections and disconnections between African and Diasporan studies on land

            Languages and literary discourses in the mediation of the past and the future

·         Land and Heritage Management

·         Land and Conflict Management

3.6 Land and Agricultural Sciences

·         Small scale and large scale commercial farmers and land

·         Agricultural adaptation to climate change and climate variability

·         Practitioners and land

·         Land reform and Agricultural production and Markets

·         Land reform and Agricultural Economics

3.7 Multi –Inter- and Trans-disciplinary Approaches to Human and Social Sciences on

      Land and Indigenisation within a global context


·         Rethinking ideologies of Human and Social Sciences on Land and Indigenisation in the context of Globalisation

·         Roots and Routes of African cultural Renaissances and Land through Human and Social Sciences

·         Land, Indigenisation, Wealth Creation and Sustainable Human Development

·         Imagination, nation and literature on Land and Indigenisation within a global context

·         Land, Indigenous knowledge systems and Human, Agricultural and Social Sciences

·         Challenging normative theories of land and development through Human and Social Sciences

4. Outputs:

·         Site visits.

·         Conference proceedings containing abstracts and papers.

·         Good papers will be submitted for publication in refereed journals, eg. Development of Southern Africa, Journal of Southern African Studies and Zambezia.

·         We also anticipate publishing some of the outstanding papers in a volume or two of books carrying the conference theme as title.

5. Details concerning conference fees, accommodation and other related costs, including payment modes will be communicated to confirmed participants.

Abstracts of 250-300 words should be submitted to the Conference Committee:;;;;;

Contact numbers: Faculty of Arts Office 00263 04 333529
Prof Pedzisai Mashiri: 00263 772 515953

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Musa Zimunya and the guitar... once upon a time

(once upon a time...Musaemura Zimunya performing at Elliot College Hall, University of Kent at Canterbury, 1977.)

Thought Tracks Longman, 1982. ISBN 0-582-78560-X

Short stories
Nightshift Longman, 1993. ISBN 1-77903-076-2

Literary criticism
Those Years of Drought and Hunger: The Birth of African Fiction in English in Zimbabwe 1982. ISBN 0-86922-183-3

As editor
And Now the Poets Speak Mambo Press, 1981. With Mudereri Khadani
Important interview with Edmore Zvinonzwa:
Important Zimunya email:


Monday, January 6, 2014

image of 1986 Zimbabwe writers meeting

                                                How many can you identify?