Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

A Wonder of the World

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I recently went to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and all I can say of the trip is heat, beauty and Vic Falls. Wow, just wow!!!

Enjoy!

 

Book Review: The Book of Memory

Image result for the book of memory

The story that you have asked me to tell you does not begin with the pitiful ugliness of Lloyd’s death. It begins on a long-ago day in August when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man.

Memory, the narrator of Petina Gappah’s The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, after being sentenced for murder. As part of her appeal, her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between past and present, the 2009 Guardian First Book Award–winning writer Petina Gappah weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate, and the treachery of memory.

The book reminded me of the book, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo particularly when she talks of the Harare township where Memory grew up. The characterisation of township life was totally believable and reminded me of my experience growing up. The book also does a good job of personifying the life behind bars and the dynamics of womanhood and female friendships.

Overall, Gappah is a lovely story teller, she builds it up slowly and steadily then lets it slow down later. I loved the pace. It totally sucked me in and I read it over a day or two. Then at the end I just hugged the book and smiled. The story continually switches between a flashback to the past and present time. Despite this, it was still easy to follow the broader tale.

Common themes raised in the book include: language, memory, family (siblings, mother-daughter, husband-wife), religion, colonialism(or race as a subset). Various questions I had though while reading the book include:

  • In light of the decolonised free education in our lifetime protests currently happening in South African universities, is the best education White/ Western and in a foreign (ex-colonialist) language? To what extent has this changed? Would you/ I feel comfortable to take our kid to a native school ala Spilt Milk? I am not sure. In terms of decolonising language, the best book I have read on this topic so far is Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
  • The book also touches on Africa’s complicated history with the White Man. Was Lloyd African? Why because he spoke the language and understood the culture / had allowed himself to be immersed in it fully? If we contrast Lloyd and Alexandra the sister, who is more African?
  • Colonialism and the White Mans’ burden also comes across when we look at the motives of Lloyd in adopting Memory.
  • That duality of existence that I find so intriguing about South Africans and now Zimbabwe. That deep belief in ancestry and mainstream religion or a more modern life. I grew up raised in a predominantly Bible-focused culture and so this duality is totally alien to me.
  • Do we trust our memories? Is it ever as we think or are there things we remember that as we have gotten older we have to come realise are not as they were. As the last child in my home, I have some clear memories of myself as a child but to be honest, I know that a lot of them are mainly based on what I have been told and not necessarily what I particularly remember. What are your earliest memories?

In closing, I am not sure why they did not translate the Shona bits which made me wonder who the real audience is here. It was quite frustrating for me a non-Shona speaker.

Long Sunday Reads

Enjoy some lovely reads this Sunday!

  1. Five recipes to enjoy your Zuccini/ babymarrow
  2. On being a foreigner – the less obvious kind
  3. The more obvious kind of a foreigner
  4. MUST MAKE RECIPE: Pumpkin Chickpea Coconut curry
  5. I enjoyed this podcast on ivory smuggling. Until the focus shifts to where and who the users are, we shall keep talking about it to no effect.
  6. This made me feel some type of way. This does happen to friendships and the best time is when they can get past that and be reunited.
  7. Sad read about the after-effects of the land grab in Zimbabwe.
  8. Yaaaaasss!! on the benefits of having older working women at work.
  9. On the fetishisation of the black woman’s body coupled with her overall undesirability relative to a white woman.

a Suzie moment

So much for the elaborate post I had in my mind….

I read this and I’m so thinking that the answer is no, if a man wants you, nothing will keep him away from you and if he doesnt want you, nothing will keep him with you. A hard truth I know only too well!

So I spoke to a pal of mine yesterday whom I’d kept missing over the last few weeks,  my oldest and the closest thing to a best friend I have and well, we just kept laughing about how we have grown up- a Suzie moment is when you spring upcoming nuptial on your pals and this is a classic if I may say so myself!

A colleague of mine is from Zim and we had an eye opening chat about why things are as they are and why those guys appear so relaxed and not taking things into their hands as it were you know. All I can say is, now I know. I’m also reading this book and I feel really disgruntled and overwhelmed as an economist- we think we know the answers and yet sometimes we are to blame for the myriad problems that so many nations are in today!