Review of Masimba - The Standard

Women Writers of Zimbabwe
2003: 205 x 138; 160pp
ISBN 1 77922 024 3

Review from The Standard
January 9, 2005
Reviewer: Fanuel Jongwe

Women Bare it All in Their Own Voices

Chairing a discussion at Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) in August last year on the role of writers in facilitating dialogue, Sudanese author and Professor Taban lo Liyong from the University of the North, South Africa, encouraged women to write their own stories "in order to tell the truth about their lives."

Women in Africa, he said, lagged behind their counterparts elsewhere in the world hence their voices remain muffled as men tell their (women's) story from observation and imagination.

One cannot concur with Lo Liyong more after reading Masimba, a collection of short stories by women writers, originally published by the Zimbabwe Women Writers and now in a new edition issued by Weaver Press.

Between the brown-maroon ethnic design covers are 28 pieces – not all of which fit into the short story genre though – by 17 writers giving an insight into the lives of women ranging from the shock of a school girl faced with the predicament of graduating into womanhood, the peasant grandmother battling to raise her grandchildren and keep poverty at bay with proceeds from a barren patch of land, the stay-at-home mother who has to live with the pressures of fending for and maintaining harmony in an extended family, the working woman who has to strike a balance between work and family commitments, the jobless and disenchanted school-leaver driven by circumstances to take to commercial sex as a livelihood.

The writers include veterans such as Barbra Makhalisa the author of several novels in Shona, English and Ndebele, Virginia Phiri who is also at home writing in any of the country's three major languages, Keresia Chateuka, Collette Mutangadura, Ruby Magosvongwe, Musi Gloriosa Katerere, Valeria Chaukura and previously unpublished writers Precity Mabuya and Chakambodei Chirandu, among others.

In the words of Musengezi, the book which has been selected as a set book for O-Level Shona, "contains words of lay bare their thoughts, trials and tribulations."

Musengezi is a publisher and former college lecturer who edited various books and journals both in Zimbabwe and abroad, including the award-winning Tragedy of Lives, which she co-edited with Irene Staunton.

She won a US$2 000 prize at ZIBF 2004 for her service to the African book industry.

© The author/publisher