Township Girls: The Cross-Over Generation

A significant first step in documenting the life writing of black Zimbabwean women—The JRB Contributing Editor Panashe Chigumadzi reviews Township Girls: The Cross-Over Generation. Nomsa Mwamuka, Farai Mpisaunga Mpofu and Wadzanai Garwe (editors)
Jacana Media, 2019


In the nineteen-seventies, as thousands of young ‘comrades’ crossed over from Mozambique and Zambia to claim a Zimbabwe for all, a small group of black children began crossing over into Rhodesia’s historically white schools and later, suburbs. Many of these were the children of the teachers, nurses, businesspeople and other professionals who formed part of the emerging black middle class mostly living in Rhodesia’s townships. Stepping in to bear witness to these under-explored lives is Township Girls: The Cross-Over Generation, edited by Nomsa Mwamuka, Wadzanai Garwe and Farai Mpisaunga Mpofu, a collection of thirty women’s accounts of black girlhood in transition. 

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A Review by Margot van Ryneveld

This is a powerful, deeply personal and intense look at life by a community of women portraying memories of their childhoods forged by their experiences as township girls living through a period of transition from Rhodesia to an independent Zimbabwe. As I read this evocative anthology of 31 women’s memories I had the tangible sense that I was exploring a community-created patchwork quilt. I was afforded the opportunity to explore their communal patchwork quilt of memories as they looked back on their youth and explored joyful, painful, sad or treasured memories of a bygone era.

Each woman that contributed to Township Girls was afforded an opportunity to present a snapshot of their memories of their youth and life in the townships as they remember it. Each one of them granted us, the readers, a richly embroidered tapestry of their personal memories and experiences as they grew up in a period of transition - in a country fraught with challenges and disparities - a country they all called home - as it morphed from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.

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Crossing over from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe: Book review of “Township Girls”

Review of “Township Girls” By Sarah Nyengerai on April 10, 2019 

“Township Girls” is a compilation of stories that focuses on an area of history and experience that is not often explored: the personal challenges posed by crossing over from the old (not free) country to the new (free) country. Sarah Nyengerai takes a closer look.
Book launch of Township Girls, Zimbabwean authors Joy Chimombe and Farayi Mangwende. The launch was held at Touch of Grace in Harare. Picture – Supplied

A first of its kind in Zimbabwe, Township Girls, compiled by Nomsa Mwamuka, Farai Mpisaunga Mpofu and Wadzanai Garwe, is a biographical and autobiographical collection of the stories of women who grew up in two countries: Rhodesia prior to independence and Zimbabwe post-1980. The book takes readers through the cross-over journeys of 31 women whose transitional experiences from colonial Rhodesia to independent Zimbabwe left indelible marks and taught invaluable life lessons. While these transitions have several themes in common, five, in particular, stand out:

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A look into the lives of 'Township Girls'

Listen podcast review

'Township Girls: Crossover Generation' is a collection of stories by ladies who've had pre and post colonial experiences. They share their various encounters with Penny Pangeti on Start Up Capital.