Oliver Nyambi considers The Uncertainty of Hope by Valerie Tagwira

First published by:

SAGE Open Jul 2014, 4(3) <http://bit.ly/1q7n9ui>



There is a subtle yet discernible connection between the post-2000 political power struggle and the gender struggle in Zimbabwe. In both cases, a patriarchal power hierarchy shaped by tradition and history is perpetuated and justified as the mark of the nation’s unique identity. In cultural, political, and economic spheres, the status of most urban Zimbabwean women is still reflected as inferior to that of most men. During this economic and political crisis period, the prevailing gender power-relations evolved into gendered appraisals of the impact of the crisis and this created the potential for rather universal and androcentric conclusions. The consequent eclipse of female-centric voices of the political and gender struggle tends to suppress women’s perspectives, consequently inhibiting a gender-inclusive imagining of the nation. This article argues that discourses about gender struggle in Zimbabwe’s post-2000 crisis have not sufficiently addressed the question of space; that is, the significance of the oppressed women’s physical and social space in shaping their grievances and imaginings of exit routes. Similarly, the article argues that representations of this historic period in literary fiction have accentuated the wider political and economic struggles at the expense of other (especially gender) struggles, thereby rendering them inconsequential. Using two short stories by Valerie Tagwira (“Mainini Grace’s Promise” and “The Journey”), the article explores the stories’ focalization of gender-entangled women in an urban space to understand the literary evocation of the condition of women caught up in a crisis in urban settings.

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Review of The Uncertainty of Hope - African Book Publishing Record

Valerie Tagwira
The Uncertainty of Hope.
Harare: Weaver Press, 2006.
368 pp. price not reported pap ISBN 9781779220639
[African Books Collective]

The novel, although a work of fiction, is probably based on a real socio-economic situation. The story is set in Zimbabwe, particularly Mbare, in 2005. The novel is a tribute to friendship, especially exemplified by the lives of Katy and Onai. Katy and John are a united couple; their daughter is a university student. Onai is a responsible mother of three who is a vegetable vendor at the market. Gari, her husband, is a drunkard, irresponsible father, and unfaithful husband, but Onai’s loyalty leads her to defend him always before her children and friends. In spite of their social background and economic status, Katy and Onai are true friends. Through the characters, the reader learns of Zimbabweans’ hardships; the disparity in wealth and power; the decadent moral life brought about on the one hand by poverty and on the other by greed; matrimonial infidelity and the lucrative black market inter alia.

One of the most attractive personalities is Mawaya, whose real name is Tapiwa. Following the death of his expectant wife in the course of running an errand for him, he voluntarily embraces kutanda botso “a ritual of begging and accepting public insults undertaken when a child wrongs his/her mother beyond verbal apology”. Onai’s kindness during this period helps him mature and realize that no one is ever too poor to give. The novel is well written in simple and attractive language, spiced with graphic descriptions. It is thought-provoking, inviting the reader to provide answers to a few questions posed, for example: Does the act of paying bride-price reduce the woman to a mere possession? (p. 26). Disregarding the country and the names that make reference to Zimbabwe, the novel could have been set in any African country. The reader appreciates the beauty and challenges of daily ordinary life, and in a way this is what renders the story so attractive. Despite the provision of a glossary of words, the discomfort involved in looking up unfamiliar words and the consequent distraction from the reading, the non-Shona speaker is marginalized. Nevertheless, social scientists will find The Uncertainty of Hope insightful.

Jane Nzisa Muasya
United States International University, Nairobi

Review of The Uncertainty of Hope - The Zimbabwean

The Women of Mbare Valerie Tagwira, The Uncertainty of Hope, Weaver Press, Harare 2006, 368 pp Mukai – Vukani. ‘Jesuit Journal For Zimbabwe’, No 40 July 2007

Reviewed by Oskar Wermter SJ.

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Review of The Uncertainty of Hope - Litnet

‘The African Library’: Entry no.61
Valerie Tagwira: The Uncertainty of Hope (2006)

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Review of The Uncertainty of Hope - The Herald

30th April, 2007

Book a welcome addition to Zimbabwean literature

The Uncertainty of Hope by Valerie Tagwira
Reviewed by Charles Mungoshi

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Review of The Uncertainty of Hope - Kubatana

The Uncertainty of Hope
Valerie Tagwira

Published by Weaver Press, Harare.
pp. 368; 210 x 130mm

Reviewed by Fungai Machirori
Kubatana.net, September 13, 2010

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