Extra, Extra Read all about it!
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
Stanislake Samkange: 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:
Tsitsi Dangaremba - Nervous Conditions
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."
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
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
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
The Team- So, You Want To Be an Odyssey Trekkerˇ
Making a Difference - Recycling Helps Mother Earth
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