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book from Zimbabwe women writers
Kurasha, The Financial Gazette
by Zimbabwe Women Writers, Chiedza Musengezi (Ed), Weaver Press,
truth of the Igbo (Nigeria) idiom, that until lions have their own
historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter, Zimbabwean
women writers have come together to tell their own story in their
own voices through anthology of short stories, Masimba, which
translates the powers, reflecting the power that underlies speaking
with one voice.
contrasts with the tendency by some male writers who claim to write
for and about women; speaking on their behalf. Most critics, and
rightly so, have questioned the sincerity and genuineness of such
male writers, expressing scepticism on their capacity to capture
fundamental and underlying issues surrounding womanhood and the
challenges posed by male domination and male oppression.
Edited by founding
and current director of Zimbabwe Women Writers (ZWW), Chiedza Musengezi,
an award winning writer and editor, the book marks the emergence
of new voices and indeed powerful voices that seek to highlight
peculiar problems women from various backgrounds face presently
– acute shortage of accommodation in urban areas, marriages problems,
juvenile delinquency, HIV / AIDS and care giving, women rights,
gender stereotypes, and gender inequality among others.
The editor of
the anthology says the book which was first published by ZWW in
1996 is evidence that women have come of age by taking the initiative
to tell their story without fear of being labelled by society which
has the tendency to stereotype women, especially those that dare
challenge male domination and male oppression. She thus applauds
women writers for finding time to write despite their tight schedules
due to the demands of motherhood and demands from elsewhere.
The book that
has been translated into Ndebele as Vus’ Inkope, opens with
a short story by Keresia Chateuka entitled Mavambo Namagumo (
the beginning and the end ) which tells of problems accommodation
and the burden of care-giving facing women as they try to meet social
roles of ideal wives in the context of extended families. The story
vividly captures the fact that while these problems affect everyone
in the family, women are the most affected given their role as mothers.
by Pelda Hove called Bedzapfuma (wealth squander) chronicles
the abuse that women suffer at the hands of their husband - promiscuity,
squandering of resources etc, despite having the same level of education
and having equally contributed to family wealth.
It also highlights
how some women have helped to perpetuate child sexual abuse by their
husbands by keeping quiet for the fear of jeopardising their marriage.
The story therefore
questions the rationale of marriages that are hanging on one spouse
– the wife who fears divorce if she exposes the cheating husband.
The story seems
to blame this behaviour by certain women on society which teaches
them to tolerate promiscuity by their husbands as natural and as
in the story Kufundisa Mwana (educating a child) highlights
how education has become the single most important investment that
parents can give to their children:
kuti kudzidzisa mwana inhaka yeupenyu. Mombe dzandaifunga kuti
ndiyo nhaka hapana zviripo" (p. 68)
(I have realised
that educating a child is the most important form of investment
one could make. I used to think that keeping many herds of cattle
is the only way of investment but it is not ). The same short story
also highlights the vital role that mothers play in the socialisation
and upbringing of children.
The book contains
28 stories by over 20 writers. It also focuses on such issues such
as laws governing women’s rights and entitlements, male chauvinistic
stereotypes that denigrate the individuality, independence and sex
of women, emancipation of women from male domination with the view
of achieving gender equality, child abuse, traumas of rape, ill-treatment
of daughters-in-law by the aunts and mothers-in-law and industriousness
of women, among other things.
Some of the
women leading writers in the book include award winner Barbara Makhalisa,
Virginia Phiri, Ruby Magosvongwe and Valeria Chaukura, among others.
is a must read for all those with interest in Zimbabwean literature
on one hand and issues surrounding the debate of gender equality
on the other.
of Masimba is a demonstration that women writers, through ZWW are
here to stay considering that they are the brains behind other publications
such trend-setting publications as Women of Resilience – The
voices of women ex-combatants (2000), Tragedy of Lives – Women prisoners
in Zimbabwe (2004), Anthology - Over 100 works by Zimbabwe Women
writers ( 1994 ) among others.
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