BUILDING NARRATIVES:By Fungayi Sox
Two weeks ago, I reviewed the book Brilliance of Hope: An Anthology of Reflections, Refractions and Vibrations of the Zimbabwean Dispersion under the headline Diasporas narrate their experiences in new book.
While one review wouldn’t have done justice to the 422-page intriguing anthology, part of the main reason that prompted me to explore this book further albeit with greater in-depth, is the amazing and positive feedback I got from readers.
It is crucially significant to commend and applaud Rumbidzai Samantha Vazhure on such a wonderful project, which was inspired by her passion to advocate for the welfare of immigrants and subsequently attracted the attention of many book lovers.
It is of paramount importance to note the role played by the Diasporas — whose significant contribution to the Zimbabwean economy cannot go unnoticed.
To those who may be reading the article for the first time, the book Brilliance of Hope was written by a group of 15 Zimbabweans.
It consist of 41 stories whose main intention is to record a crucial element of African history in the making while depicting experiences of the Zimbabwean diaspora through perspectives of writers based in Australia, Dubai, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zimbabwe.
Compiled and edited by Vazhure, the book Brilliance of Hope is arrayed by various unique experiences of Zimbabwean lives in the diaspora. Abominable and yet intriguing experiences are brought to light by the anthology evoking thoughts and emotions within the mind of the reader.
With varying literary techniques and style, the authors richly bring out the truth and reality about life in the diaspora which really points out to the fact that life is indeed not rosy on the other side of the world.
In the first review, I took a look at stories from Vazhure and Samuel Chamboko. This article will place much focus on lvainashe Ernest Nyamutsamba and Lazarus Panashe Nyagwambo. They depict experiences from South Africa and Cyprus respectively.
In his two stories, Yours Truly l’m gone and An Ode to My Aching Heart, Nyamutsamba depicts South Africa as the concrete jungle that chews and spits the people of The House of Stone, which seeks to bring to light the numerous atrocities that are faced by Zimbabweans outside the country.
Upon getting to greener pastures, the immigrants are drawn to go into the “concrete jungle”, but unknown to them lie raging beasts of the jungle that prey on unsuspecting victims and they eventually succumb to the clutches of death.
This is brought out by the experience of a student seeking to pursue law, but fails after encountering sexual abuse. Blending Shona and English, Nyamutsamba portrays the feelings of the persona and emphasises the gravity of the situations vividly throughout his stories.
In An Ode to My Aching Heart, Nyamutsamba depicts the reasons surrounding Nhamo’s departure and her mother’s reaction in Shona andillustrates the emotional drive to go to South Africa while at the same time portraying how what lies ahead is much more inhumane than what he has left behind.
In Vessel of Misery, Nyagwambo somehow brings a captivating approach by bringing in two contrasting experiences of students in Cyprus to point out that life outside is relative to individuals as he portrays how students are deceived and given high hopes of life in Cyprus, but upon arrival in Cyprus face the unsettling reality of how the grass is not always greener on the other side of the world.
An overview extract of other stories
We Were All Broken by Priscilla Shumba aptly explores the inevitable break-up of families due to dispersion. The story is told through perspectives of a father,mother and daughter in very touching monologues, highlighting what the family has lost through miscommunication. A declining economy back home and toxic masculinity within a patriarchal society all contribute to the tension which eventually lead to the demise of the family unit.
Power by Flavian Farainashe Makovere is an intriguing and thrilling story about a political asylum seeker. Pastor Mavhura, a former soldier in the liberation struggle is now seen as an enemy of the state because he is calling out at their shortcomings.It gets him abducted and tortured to spill out information on who is sponsoring his agenda. The collocation of dislocation to Mozambique during pre-colonial Zimbabwe is an exceptional detail within a story where the intrinsic connection between politics and religion is well presented.
Leaving Las Vegas tells by James Kuwali tells the story of a young government aid travelling abroad with the country’s leadership. An unplanned detour amidst the frenetic pace of international diplomacy presents a moment of reckoning with demons, both personal and national. Humour and rich language builds suspense towards searing end in this well thought out narrative.
Restless Stalker by Tinashe Junias Chipenyu tells a delightful complex tale, layered with pertinent issues affecting immigrants. The thriller-like opening to the story is gripping and vivid descriptions are used throughout the story. The themes of black tax and its challenges, the shame of failure to provide sustenance for one’s family back home, inertia, depression, amongstothers, are creatively weaved into this narrative. The evolution of the main character, Munacho, is explored and his epiphany at the end is something many Africans are coming to terms with slowly, as they begin to realise that they may never return home.
While I will not be able to capture stories from all 15 contributing authors in the book–the diversity and unique styles articulated in the narratives undoubtedly captures what it means to be displaced as first-generation immigrants in a series of echoing voices from different perspectives in the diaspora.
- Fungayi Sox is a communications consultant specialising in writing, book editing, education, personal development, digital media technologies and publishing. He can be contacted on +263 776 030 949, follow him on Twitter @AntonySox or connect with him on LinkedIn on Fungayi Antony Sox.