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Weaver Press anniversary short story slam
Amanda Atwood,
October 09, 2008

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On 2 October, Weaver Press hosted a Short Story Slam, to launch its latest publications - Women Writing Zimbabwe and Laughing Now - and to continue marking the publishing house's 10th anniversary. A number of authors from the two collections were invited to choose a story from the books that they'd most like others to read. The authors were asked to introduce the story, and then to read from it. To heighten the competitive edge, Cde Fatso was brought in as a time keeper, and he closely monitored that the presenters kept to their time limits. He also measured the applause after each reading, to select the two winners of the evening.

Lawrence Hoba battled through losing his voice to read from Blessing Musariri's story in Women Writing Zimbabwe, Tichafataona Sleeps. Tichafataona is a wounded liberation war fighter who comes to live with his sister's family in Mablereign, but his ghosts follow him, and in the end he disappears with the family's children. Hoba saw the story as representative of Zimbabwe's failure as a nation to rehabilitate liberation war veterans, the leaders included. Similarly, the effects that we see in Tichafataona Sleeps are similar to those we see across the country because of the ghosts from the past which remain unexorcised in our leaders. In the excerpt Hoba read, we see the struggles of reintegration, and the ways in which this challenges both the veterans and their families.

Blessing Musariri read from Chemusana, a story by Sabina Mutangadura which appears in Women Writing Zimbabwe. This story looks at a phenomenon increasingly common in Zimbabwe - parents who go overseas to work for extended periods of time, leaving their children behind. In the story, Chemusana forms a closer bond to Estelle, his caregiver, than he has with his own father or mother.

Shimmer Chinodya described Daniel Mandishona's A Dirty Game as a "well crafted, clever, subtle story about contemporary Zimbabwe." The story, in Laughing Now, focuses on a family of siblings, one of whom goes to the UK to study, and the rest of whom remain behind struggling. Chinodya read an excerpt about 16-year-old Prim, who's not the most intellectual of the siblings.

Concerned about the heavy burden of Zimbabwe's future, Vivienne Ndlovu chose a story which she hoped would show a glimpse of a possible future for Zimbabwe. Rumbi Katedza's Snowflakes in Winter, published in Women Writing Zimbabwe, is a story of Zimbabwe's Diaspora. The action takes place in London, and explores the various coping mechanisms Zimbabweans there take up to deal with the different reality they find in that foreign environment, and the strain this places on family relationships.

Sabina Mutangadura read from Annie Holmes' story Delivery in Women Writing Zimbabwe. Mutangadura described the story as humorous, to the point of being almost comic. But, she observed, the story uses humour to highlight some very serious themes including relationships across the cultures at various levels, between local Zimbabweans, between white and black people, Zimbabweans and Nigerians, and across classes.

At the end of the evening, when the applause was measured and the audience response tallied, Shimmer Chinodya and Sabina Mutangadura were declared slam winners, and each walked away with a bottle of champagne and a Weaver Press t-shirt.

Audio File

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