In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika. Paper 4: 2016 – 2020. Price $12
In Dependence can be described as a love story. But it is more than that. It traces the trajectory of Nigeria’s political history; the military coups, the bad and treacherous leadership, and its renewed tentative steps towards democracy. It speaks to the demise (in the 1980s) of Nigeria’s international reputation and the country’s rapidly destabilizing reality. It looks at the poor whose situation never improved but actually worsened. Using events in Tayo’s life, it describes the effects of misrule on the country’s universities and the ensuing massive brain drain that Africa experienced in the 1980s. Sarah Manyika achieves all this with a voice and an outlook that is truly authentic and objective. The author captures the mood and feel of different decades and the three continents (Africa, Europe and America) that serve as settings for the story. Its scope is vast and sweeping.
Strife by Shimmer Chinodya. Paper 5: 2015 – 2020. Price $12
A rich, densely written novel, Strife examines one family’s responses to destiny. Tracing the Gwanagara’s roots back over a century, Chinodya interweaves past and the present, juxtaposing incidents never forgotten or resolved, revealing how memory becomes an actor in lived time.
A large family grows up in Gweru. Their father aspires to be an enlightened Christian man, he sees his children through school and college where they do well. But as adults, they are struck by illness. Who is to blame? Who is to cure these ailments? What wrongs have they committed to offend the ancestors? How can atonement be made? Can education, science and medicine provide any solution? Their mother, the moon huntress, seeks out the answers and the cures in traditional beliefs and customs.
Chinodya provides a dark exposé of the tension between modernity and tradition. He explores the powerful draw that these sometimes conflicting ideologies exercise over an emerging middle-class that at once yearns for autonomy and unconsciously desires the irresponsibility of an all-pervading destiny.
Strife is a novel that has to be read by anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Zimbabwean culture in the twenty-first century.
The Uncertainty of Hope by Valerie Tagwira. Paper 2: 2015 – 2020. Price $14
The Uncertainty of Hope aptly captures how precarious the future is for the inhabitants of Mbare, Zimbabwe in 2005. Through the rich and complex lives of Onai Moyo – a market woman and responsible mother of three children – and her best friend Katy Nguni – a vendor and black-market currency dealer – we are given an insight into the challenges that face those who only survive by their wits, their labour and their mutual support.
The stories of these two close friends are situated in a high-density suburb. However, the author, Valerie Tagwira also introduces to a much wider cross-section of Zimbabwean society: Tom Sibanda, a young business man and farmer, his girlfriend, Faith, a university student, Tom’s sister Emily, a health professional, and Mawaya, the ostensible beggar.