Building Narratives: By Fungayi Sox
The shona proverb “Mwana washe muranda kumwe” best captures Samantha Vazhure’s latest compilation entitled Brilliance of Hope: An Anthology of Reflections, Refractions and Vibrations of the Zimbabwean Dispersion.
Translated to English, the proverb simply means that outside his father’s territory, the son of a chief is a servant.
The anthology Brilliance of Hope was written by a group of 15 Zimbabweans and consist of 41 stories whose main intention is to record a crucial element of African history in the making and this short story anthology depicts experiences of the Zimbabwean diaspora through perspectives of writers based in Australia, Dubai, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe.
Compiled and edited by Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure, the fictional and autobiographical narratives collectively reflect on the resilience and hope intrinsic to the Zimbabwean dispersion.
Entangled in a common quandry, these diaspora-based writers echo the particulars of what it means to be displaced as first generation immigrants.
In her editorial note, Vazhure stated that the book had been part of her advocacy work for the welfare of immigrants and that she had edited and compiled the anthology so as to provide a platform where a crucial element of Zimbabwean history could be recorded.
She added that the book project titled Diamond had been inspired by a gemstone known for its resilience under pressure, and its brilliance based on its ability to reflect the light.
The characteristics of a diamond, which spiritually represent clarity, promise and possibility where used as puns to name the anthology — Brilliance of Hope: Reflections, Refractions and Vibrations of the Zimbabwean dispersion.
Just by reading the anthology’s blurb, one cannot help, but notice the sheer brilliance and exuberance demonstrated in chronicling the Zimbabwean pride through distinctive narratives of the collection of short stories, which in my view chronicles the plight of Zimbabweans particularly their resilience in the wake of adversity.
Such resilience is captured through different narratives which takes the readers different countries including South Africa, UK and Rwanda just to mention but a few.
An overview of the stories
The Journey From Without by Samuel Chamboko is a fantastic coming of age novelette that oozes the naivety of youth, layered with pertinent issues affecting Zimbabweans who leave for the diaspora.
Three friends embark on a journey to South Africa with just their clothes on their back and very little money, relying on the kindness of strangers on their journey to a better life.
The writing style is very transportive and the scenery well captured through lively characters and vivid descriptions of the Karanga customs.
The trials and tribulations of living in a foreign land are accurately illuminated, including stern realisation that the grass is only ever greener after back breaking work.
What I loved about Chamboko’s Journey From Without is how he captures Pedzisai’s journey from Mwenezi to Johannesburg. Chamboko employs the setting of Mwenezi, one of the marginalised districts in the country to capture the quest by the ordinary Zimbabweans to escape poverty and paradoxically places Johannesburg as the ultimate fertile field or land of honey and milk.
Moreover, Chamboko like most of the contributors in the anthology, successfully uses the shona language as his distinct style of preserving his roots through prevalent mention of shona meals such as sadza remhunga (millet thick porriodge) as well as Shona relations so as to to depict the existence of unity in the Shona culture.
The Barcode by Vazhure is a captivating thriller highlighting the harsh truths of being an illegal immigrant in the United Kingdom.
Living under his brother’s roof, Kumbi is at the mercy of his demanding sister-in-law Benhilda who knit-picks at everything he does.
A regular work trip leads to him spending time in a hell that is a detention centre where he experiences trauma whilst awaiting deportation.
Upon arrival in Zimbabwe,he is met by an awkward greeting by his own children and wife.To make matters worse, his childhood bestfriend seems to have replaced him.
Rumbidzai captures this narrative with great use of imagery and vivid descriptions which transports you to the scene at hand.
Vazhure’s prevalent message in The Barcode seems to depicts not only the harsh reality of being an immigrant but the harsh predicament of detachment and isolation that may consequentially occur when one leaves their motherland.
Through a fictional character, Kumbi, we learn how he is unable to mourn his mother when she passes on back home in Zimbabwe and he cannot return because he has no papers and how his quest for greener pastures in the end ultimately cost him his family.
- The writer Fungayi Sox is a Harare-based communications consultant specialising in writing, book editing, education, personal development, digital media technologies and publishing. To arrange for copies of Brilliance of Hope don’t hesitate to contact Chamboko on +263 776 030 949.