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Map of Zimbabwe
Tired of taking our word for it? How about checking out other sources, getting a different point of view? Sometimes the best way to get the real story is through fiction. Recently, we've been getting to know Zimbabwe through the eyes of some the country's most influential writers: Stanlake Samkange, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Doris Lessing. Page after page, they weave us into their worlds of struggle, change and hope. But, don't take our word for it. Check it out for yourself!

Stanislake Samkange: On Trial for My Country
The Cover of On Trial for my Country

Stanlake Samkange was born in 1922 in what was Rhodesia in 1922 and is Zimbabwe today. He grew up in Bulawayo and attended Fort Harare University in South Africa where he graduated with honors in History. As a teacher, he gained perspective on what was missing from education in Africa. He found a way to help by assisting in the creation of the Nyatsmine College, an institution that provided academic, technical and commercial education for Africans. He first began writing through his studies and work and after gaining a PHD from Indiana University, he worked as a journalist and ran a PR firm. What a guy! His book, On Trial for My Country traces the white man's conquest of Rhodesia, the struggles of the native people during the conquest and the clash between Cecil Rhodes and Lobengula, the Matabele King. He uses authentic documents and letters to transport us to that moment in time, take a look:

A letter from the Queen to Lobengula:

"The queen has kept in mind the letter sent by Lobengula and has now desired that Mr. Moffat whom she trusts should be the one to tell Lobengula what she has done for him and what she advises for him to do. Wherever gold is, or wherever it is reported to be, it is impossible for Lobengula to exclude white men and therefore the wisest and safest course for him is to agree, not with one or two white men separately but with one approved body. If he does not agree with one set of people, there will be endless disputes among the white men and he will have all his time taken up in deciding the quarrels."

The Cover of Nervous Condition
Tsitsi Dangaremba - Nervous Conditions

Another one of our featured authors, Tsitsi Dangaremba, is no stranger to the struggles of the Zimbabwean people. She grew up partly in Mutare, Zimbabwe, and partly in England. She studied medicine and psychology before deciding to take up writing full time. Her novel Nervous Conditions won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1989. This book introduces us to Tambu and Nyasha, two strong women who understand the harsh realities of the African woman's life. They dare to be different and they dare to be free from those harsh realities. Just do it, they believed- and they did. See for yourselves:

"Excitement. Anticipation. Elation and exultation. It was all very much the same as it had been on that first day that I went to the mission, the day that I began my new life. Yes, it had begun so thoroughly that January afternoon two years ago when I went to the mission, and it was continuing. Everything was coming together. All the things that I wanted were tying themselves up into a neat package which presented itself to me with a flourish. There should have been trumpets, truly there should have been. For was I- I Tambudzai, lately of the mission and before that the homestead- was I Tambudzai, so recently a peasant, was I not entering, as I had promised myself I would, a world where burdens lightened with every step, soon to disappear altogether? I had no idea that that would happen as I passed through the school gates, those gates that would declare me a young lady, a member of the Young Ladies College of the Sacred Heart. I was impatient to get to those gates."

Doris Lessing - The Grass is Singing

The Cover of The Grass is Singing
Perhaps you're wondering what it was like to be a white woman in Southern Africa? Doris Lessing provides one answer. Although born in Persia (today's Iran), she grew up on her father's farm in Rhodesia, and was schooled mostly in what is today Harare. She ran away from home when she was 15 and read books to educate herself. She married when she was 19 and had two children, but she left her family a few years later as she came to realize more who she was and what she wanted in life. After many odd jobs, she settled on her determination to become a writer. In The Grass is Singing, her first novel, she draws upon her experiences as a white woman in a country that believes in black versus white. Here, she begins to know herself just as the country itself is unfolding.

"It never occurred to her to think, for instance, that she, the daughter of a petty railway official and a woman whose life had been so unhappy because of economic pressure that she had literally pined to death, was living in much of the same way as the daughters of the wealthiest in South Africa, could do as she pleased- could marry, if she wished, anyone she wanted. These things did not enter her head. "Class" is not a South African word; and its equivalent, "race," meant to her the office boy in the firm where she worked, other women's servants, and the amorphous mass of natives in the streets, whom she hardly noticed. She knew (the phrase as in the air) that the natives were getting "cheeky." But she had nothing to do with them really. They were outside her orbit."

Black, White, young or old, the stories of Zimbabwe, ring true to people the world over. These stories bring us into the lives of characters that deal with inequality, injustice, struggle, peace and hope. Here we are left with the images of what is supposed to be "what life was like way back when," and yet as we go out into the world of modern day Zimbabwe, many of these stories still ring true.


The Team- What Would You Do If You Were in Charge?!? - The Struggle for an Independent Zimbabwe
The Team- No Cans Allowed!
Abeja - School's out! A day in the life of a Zimbabwean High School Student
The Team- So, You Want To Be an Odyssey Trekkerˇ
Making a Difference - Recycling Helps Mother Earth

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