Tagwira Update and Other Reflections on Writing

Sometimes, reading is like the writing process: the reader revises responses to a work of art with each step of the reading process. When I started reading Valerie Tagwira’s The Uncertainty of Hope, I quickly found discomfort in the transposition of Shona and English sentences since I thought this tendency served some interests of no immediate importance to the art of the novel, for example, serving an audience foreign to the issues and context of the novel. Reading “But thank you very much my friend. Ndatenda sahwira” (16) still bothers me, but I have also discovered that this aspect of the novel may not be as important by the end of the story as I thought it was at the beginning. I am, however, beginning to grow nervous with the abundance of images of pessimism that pervade the plot,and I worry that if the novel falls short in exposing the complexities of life in the Zimbabwe of 2005, it may excel only in showing the complications of the life. Right, art imitates life, but I like to see it challenging life as well. While a camera will record those snippets of life within its focus, a novel needs to process that information first (usually thoroughly) before it gives it shape. Challenge all readers to decide what to make of the story, to connect present events to past ones.

Zimbabwean writing seems to have fallen into that era remniscent of South African art in the 1980s and early 90s, when the main preoccupation seemed to be apartheid. The exposure of the hard hours of South Africa at the time had become so predictable that reading a Njabulo Ndebele was akin to listening to a Lucky Dube. Nothing very wrong with this, especially in the genre of protest literature; I just want us to allow the hollow core of our art to fill up before we share its visible manifestations. This is to say, even as I write this response, I find myself thinking of the necessity to feed the core of my critique before I point out the layers that float on the surface of the pond of discourse.

Some of the characteristics of Tagwira’s novel I like:
1. The time shift: right when the obvious begins to bore the reader to death, we switch to another scene as we would were we watching Hollywood. This aspect of the novel lends it to movie adaptation.
2. Familiar terrain: I like that I can identify with places like Swinton, Students Union; in fact, all the scenes happening at UZ are attention-grabbing.
3. The narrator is on the side of the poor people and is ready to defend them. The descriptions of Mbare are powerful.
4. The currency of the issues is great too, but I think the issues would be stronger if they anchored on their historical sub-text (I use this term loosely).

NOTE: I have been voraciously reading new poetry from Zimbabwe, and I see the same protest trend which tells of the hard times. There is a certain urgency in much of the poetry. One poet, however, ignores the present and chooses to recapture Shona praise poetry and translates it into English. This too might be a response to the present situation in Zimbabwe, an argument that seems to say that while all this craziness (ordinary word) is happening, the poet has better things to do – record the beauty of our art while you can; who knows, with this craziness, we might lose it all. That poet is Tawanda Gumbo.
Maxwell Mutami, author of When the Dust Has Settled, mixes the horrors of the present with their past antecedents, which means the reader senses that in reading a poem like “When the Dust Settles”, there is an antecedent situation that might be more important than what we see happening now, which is why we know the dust will settle one day, because it once settled before, after it had been caused, that is, raised, by something just as horrific as what’s causing it to rise again. Dust. Yet dust that rises is not alway ominous because Mutami, in the very next poem tells us that when the people (and he means masses)celebrate their regained sense of optimism, dust will rise and keep the skies hostage. Someting to do with hope and the skies.

But how does my writing (both fiction and poetry) respond to all this? I have tried many times to write a poem that attacks the government or corruption, but each time the poem forces me to look at the root of all these issues. So a poem that starts off talking about Harare in 2007 ends up settling on Salisbury in 1967. It’s as if my poetry is aware, of its own volition, that the big picture is not just in what ZANU and MDC are doing today: the poetry needs a concrete base on which it can take shape. Ian Smith’s 1965 dimentia has not had enough witnessing voices, for instance.

It is, let me argue, about complexities, not complications. Am I affected by the present situation in Zimbabwe? Yes, in a big way; but should I therefore write a novel dealing specifically with these effects, and only these? That might be a good start, but may not end up good. Should I, however, find myself inspired to write on these experiences, a memoir would be calling my name. The novel that’s taking shape is really like an internal journey, digging deeper into the nature of experience, but at this time it wouldn’t dare to announce itself yet. And poetry? Poetry knows my name.

"Something Like a Poem" by Dan Gerber

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Something Like a Poem
Good Times Santa Cruz – Sunday, 28 October 2007

In his essay, Gerber grips the reader’s attention by exposing the feeling of an artist towards the art. One question that I am always asked as a poet is what my poetry is about, and like many poets before me, I do not have straight forward answer that pretends to know what my poetry is about. My poetry is like a discovery process, and I hope that the reader will discover the meaning just as I would as I read the poem after its production. And this is serious. I know I can control the craft of the poem, tweak lines, rhythm and other stylistic features, but I will let the poem clear its own ground. Sometimes the process is not about clearing ground at all, but maybe about forestation or a process I am beginning to understand as some form of “covering” or “layering”. Often, when I write a poem about certain themes,I prefer the “covering/layering”. I find some of the themes intrusive even to the poem, so there is usually a veer and serve of the poetic lines as they avoid the inevitable collision with thematic content that befits covering/layering.

Mutami’s When the Dust Has Settled

Maxwell Mutami’s poetry collection has just been published by Timeless Avatar Press and is available at Amazon and other places online. The publisher describes the collection as follows:

“This book is a collection of poems that cover politics, culture, religion, and the economic life of the ordinary man. The themes tackled have made and are still making headlines in newspapers and magazines all over the world.”

I just ordered my copy and hope to feature a Maxwell Mutami interview in the next issue of Munyori Poetry Journal.

Sacramento State University hosts Conference on Rwanda

I look forward to attending this rich conference hosted by Sac State. Here I am posting the conference schedule to give readers an idea of the kinds of papers that are going to be presented by scholars from across the Unites States.

Post-Genocide Rwanda: Achievements and Challenges

Date & Venue: November 2-3, 2007 at Sacramento State University


 Pan-African Studies and Ethnic Studies at California State University,
 The University of the Pacific, School of International Studies,
o in collaboration with :
FORA (Friends of Rwanda Association).

Thursday: November 1, 2007

5:00 PM-7:00 PM: Wine and Cheese Reception and Registration.
8391 Red Fox Way Elk Grove, California.

Friday November 2, 2007


9:00-10:50 Welcome and Keynote speech: Hinde Auditorium
Genocide Negation: Its impact on National Unity and Reconciliation by James Kimonyo, Rwandan Ambassador to the United States

10:00 AM-12:30. Concurrent sessions

Session 1: Law and Justice

Timothy Gallimore, ICTR (Arusha, Tanzania): ‘The Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and its Contributions to Justice and Reconciliation in Rwanda’

Linda F. Carter, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law: Post-Genocide Responses: The Interrelationship of International and National Judicial Proceeding.

Benjamin Hjelle, Monterey Institute of International Studies: ‘From Arusha to the Hague: Constructing International Crime Justice Regime’

Susan Thomson and Rosemary Nagv, Dalhouse University, Halifax, Nova Scotia: ‘Power, Justice, and Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda’

Jens Meierhenrich, Harvard: ‘The Invention of Gacaca’

Adrian Traylor, Monterey Institute of International Studies: ‘Why we failed: an Interest Based Analysis of the Negotiation Before and During the 1994 Rwandan genocide’

Max Rettig, Stanford University: ‘Gacaca: Result from a Multimodel Study’

Vincent Mboneyeho : ‘Justice in Rwanda, Impunity in the Region’

Session 2 : Revisionism, National Unity and Reconciliation

Jacqueline Boynton : ‘Denial and Revisionism as a Social Phenomenon : Some Lessons from the Past’.

Mathilde Mukantabana : ‘American Genocide Negationists’

Jean Ntirandekura : ‘Acts of Negation in Comparative Genocide Structure’

Alison McLaughlin: ‘Ethnicity in Rwanda : Recognize to Reconcile’

Elisee Rutagambwa, Boston College: ‘International Inaction in Rwanda : a Departing Point from a Postcolonial African Ethical Policy‘

Anastase Shyaka, ‘Genocide, Identity questions, Government and Democracy in Rwanda’, UNR.

Tharcisse Seminega, Genocide Survivor, University of Alberta : The Legacy of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide : Paving the Way for a Better Future.

Sabrina Dove and Ellen Yamshon: ‘Using Art to Further Peacemaking in the Aftermath of Genocide: the Lessons from Rwanda.

Jean Marie Vianney Kagenza: ‘Negative Effects on Unity and Reconciliation of Rwandans in the Former Prefecture of Byumba’

Emmanuel Nkurunziza : ‘Negationism Revisited with Rwandan Tutsi Genocide’.

Dominique Musoni and Claire Barebereho : ‘Tutsi Genocide Denial : Eyewitness Account’

Ernest Ndimubandi : ‘The Weakness of the International Community with Regard to Genocide’
Oscar Gasana : ‘The Context of Religion and Violence : Implications of the leaders in memic Structures of Violence : the Case of Rwanda.

Session 3: Challenges Facing Genocide Survivors : From their own mouths

Manasse Shingiro : My ordeal in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide’

Maggie Mbabazi : Coping with the Trauma of Genocide

Louis Ngarambe : Point of Views of Genocide Survivors on their Living Conditions and on the Life of the Whole Country

Yves Ngendahimana : Reaction of Tutsi genocide Survivors to the Government Policies Affecting the Victims and Perpetrators of Genocide

Alphonsine Muteteri : My Experience as a Head of Family of Kids who Survived Genocide and I was One of Them.

Kayirama : A sole 9-year old becomes head of family.
Ntagara : Achievements and challenges of BARAKABAHO Foundation

Diane Mukeshimana : Problems Facing Widows of the 1994 Genocide

Innocent Ntagara : ‘Achievements and Challenges : BARAKABAHO Foundation’

Marie Prudence Uwimana : ‘Tutsi Genocide Raped Women Survivors’

Frederick Sebasaza : ‘Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Among University Students’.


1 :00 PM-1 :50 PM

Keynote speech : Orchid II and III :

Rwanda : History and Hope by Margee Ensign, Dean and Associate Provost, School of International Studies, the University of Pacific, Stockton.

2 :00-4 :30 : Concurrent sessions

Session 1 : Economic Development

Scott Wagner :‘Progress and challenges in Post-Genocide Rwanda’ :

‘Rwanda: Is it Safe to Visit ?’ : Lionel Rawlins, North Central University and CEO, The Von Frederick Group.

Euthalie Nyirabega, National University of Rwanda : Women’s Small Business in the Development of Rwanda

Katherine Carelock : ‘The Impact of Women in Rebuilding the Country’,

Alexandre Kimenyi, Sacramento State :
Imidugudu : A Solution for a Better Living in Rwanda.

Anastase Shyaka, NUR, Butare :‘Local Governments and National Development : a Comparative Analysis of from Nyamagabe and Nyagatare Districts’

Euthalie Nyirabega, NUR, Butare : Environmental and Water Resources management : Challenges for Rwanda.

Emmy Rugira : ‘The Role of Microfinance Institutions in Poverty alleviation in Post-Genocide Rwanda : The Case of Kibarondo district’.

Alice Kampimbere : ‘Hope and Challenges to Fight Against Poverty in Post-Genocide Rwanda’.

Constance Mukankiranuye : ‘Popular Banks Contribute to Small Business Promotion in Rwanda’

Didne de Diane Yampundu : ‘The Impact of the East African community on The Economy and Conflict Resolution : The case of Rwanda and Burundi’

Happy Bwerere : ‘A Better Tomorrow’

Didier Nahimana : ‘Proliferation of Youth Delinquency and Homelessness in both Burundi and Rwanda : A Comparative Study’.

Amedee Ndikumwami : ‘The Negative Effect of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide in Rwanda on the University of Lake Tanganyika and the Economy of Burundi’.

Session 2. : Challenges of Genocide Survivors from their own Mouth.

Alphonse Nsengiyumva : Children Survivors Handicapped during the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.

Eric Nshimiyimana, Celestin Rurinda and Jean Bosco Karengera : Problems Facing Survivors of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.

Diane Mukeshimana : Problems Facing Tutsi Women Survivors Raped During Genocide

Appolinaire Rurangwa and Constance Mukarugambwa: The Plight of the Handicapped Survivors of the 1994 Tutsi genocide

Alphonsine Izere : Social Conditions of Orphaned children of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide in Families of Adoption
Charles Kubwimana : Problems of Orphans of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide

Odette Marie Yabaragiye : Life After the Tutsi Genocide in 1994.

Velene Dusabeyezu : Caring for Survivors with Trauma

Emmanuel Ndagijimana : Problems Facing Orphans of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide

Film: Rwanda Rising by Quincey Jones: 6 :00-8 :00 PM. Hinde Auditorium

Saturday November 3rd 2007


9 :00-9 :50 AM.

Keynote Speech : Orchid II and III
Democracy and National Values: Joseph Nsengimana : Rwandan Ambassador to the United Nations, New York.

10 :00-12 :30 Concurrent Sessions :

Session 1 : Literature

Naomi Benaron : ‘Writing Across the Borders : the Rights and Responsibilities of Writing about a Culture Which is not Your Own’..

Lisa Abraham CRC : ‘Rwanda Folktale Project : The Long Journey’.

Alexandre Dauge-Roth, Bates University. : ‘Testimonies and Literary Accounts of Tutsi Genocide,

Ellen Yamshon and Rubert Barambanza : ‘The Prospect of Sustainable Peace Through Comics Media and Graphic Novels’.

Barbara Lasch McCaffry, Myrna Goodman, Elaine Leeder and David Salm :
‘The Memory Grove and the Program of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Sonoma State University’,

Session 2 : University Curriculum

Mathilde Mukantabana, CRC : ‘Social work in Post-Genocide Rwanda : Building a Case for the Essential Role of Social Workers in the New Socio-Economic and Political Developments in Rwanda’.

Dr.D.Onolemhemlen , Wayne State University: Social Work education in a Post-Genocide Rwanda : Achievements and Challenges for a Newly Rebuilt Nation.

Louis Chicoine : ‘Building a Future in Post-Genocide Rwanda by Creating Effective Non-Government Organizations.

Tracey Patton, University of Wyoming : Rwandan Recovery : Engaging in Social Justice in the University Curriculum.

Bill Froming and Karen Froming, ‘Pacific Graduate School of Psychology : ‘Building Clinical Psychology Infrastructure in Developing Countries’

Session 3 : Special Session on Native American Genocide

Presenters to be announced.


1 :00 PM-1 :50 PM

Keynote speech in Orchid II and III :
William Bertrand, Wisner Professor of Public Health at Tulane University : Progress and Challenges in Health Care and Information Technology in Rwanda.

2 :00 PM-4 :30 PM : Orchid I and Orchid III

Session 1 : Technology.

Gregg Zachary, Stanford University :‘Start up Rwanda :

Carol Shulin. California State University, Northridge : ‘The Birth and Growth of KIST’

Antoine Bigirimana, CEO, E-Tools :
IT in Rwanda : Progress and Challenges.

Philip Giovanni :Biofuel Development in Rwanda.

Anne Peterson, Tara Shuster, Shannon Holme, Katie Koel and Mary Wagner :‘Solar Cookers and WAPIs in Rwanda’

Adelard Bugegene : ‘The Impact of the Internet in Spreading Democracy in the Great Lakes Region’

Jean Paul Habimana : ‘Ethics and Deontology in Post-Genocide Rwanda Journalism’

Emmy Rugira : The Role of Microfinance Institutions in Alleviating Poverty on Post-Genocide Rwanda : The Case of Kabarondo Sector, Kayonza District, Eastern Province’

Amsni Athar : ‘Redrawing the Map of Rwanda’

Session 2 : Native American Genocide

Presenters to be announced.

2 :30-4 :00 PM

Plenary Session : Orchid II and Orchid III
Open Panel Discussion : Questions, Answers and Comments by all conference participants.

Panelists :
Ambassador Joseph Kimonyo, Ambassador Joseph Nsengimana, Dean Margee Ensign, Prof. William Bertrand, Antoine Bigirimana and Gregg Zachary.


7 :00 PM-12 :00 AM

Rwandan Cultural Fundraising event organized by FORA.

Holiday Inn EXPRESS Hotel & Suites
9175 W. Stockton
Elk Grove, CA 95758
At HWY 99 & Laguna Blvd
Tel. 916-478-9000

Keynote speech :Orphans of Genocide Coping in Today’s Realities’ by Euthalie NYIRABEGA ,National University of Rwanda at Butare and President of A.S.O.G.M (Association de Soutien pour les Orphelins de Genocide du Mayaga)
Entertainment :Rwandan Artist Vincent NSENGIYUMVA. and DJ Wendell FISHMAN

Food – Drinks – Entertainment – Silent Auction Proceeds benefit survivors of Genocide
General Public : $30 Students : $20

A Nobel for Zimbabwe?

A Doris Lessing reader approached me yesterday and asked, “I didn’t know Doris Lessing sort of grew up in Zimbabwe.” Not only did I confirm this, but I was also quick to recommend The Grass is Singing as a good book to read. I have always treated Doris Lessing as a Zimbabwean writer, although she left the country in 1949, and was prohibited from rentering it from 1956 to 1995. When it comes to conferring nationality to a writer, sometimes the work of the writer is a deciding factor. Reading The Grass is Singing does it for me – I have read that book just to experience how it captures the savanna terrain, which brings the message closer home.I find myself very ready to claim Lessing as clearly a Zimbabwean writer, and for this reason, I feel that a part of that Nobel has to do with Zimbabwe somehow. Either that, or I just want someone to say something positive about Zimbabwe right now. Congratulations, Doris Lessing!

New Dialogue on Valerie Tagwira’s novel

I just received my copy of the Weaver Press-published novel, The Uncertainty of Hope. The first two chapters I have read present a promising plot. What I have begun to notice is the uncertainty of language in the novel. The characters use the Shona language once in a while, then each Shona sentence is usually followed by its English equivalent. That’s a bit disturbing because it raises the issue of audience and how writing in English conflicts with the messages we are trying to convey. The writing becomes a bit journalistic, or anthropological, but then I say this because I spent those early UZ years arguing about African literature and the issue of language, and I am into revisionary Ngugism. I see what Tagwira is trying to do; I am just uncomfortable as I try to imagine what goes on in a writer’s mind when he or she faces the challenge of satisfying a foreign audience while attempting to serve a local readership, which rarely reads, cannot afford to read. I see myself writing a long paper on the double-consciousness of the writer and the production of linguistic uncertainty, possibly reacting to the syntactical dualities of character dialogue as possible forms of some type of literary double-speak (this word will grain a new shed of meaning) or apologia. The first review of Valerie Tagwira’s The Uncertainty of Hope will be featured at Mototi Litscapes.
Those who have read Yvonne Vera and Tsitsi Dangarembga should add Valerie Tagwira to their shelves. These Zimbabwean ladies make us proud just as Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie has made many readers proud. See Tagwira’s website.

Below is the dialogue that Ambrose and I have begun:
Ambrose Musiyiwa said…
I have read your comments on The Uncertainty of Hope and I look forward to reading your review.

Although your post is very short, you make allusions to concepts that are as engaging as they are diverse.

I also get the impression here that some of your comments are more about you as a reader, a blogger and a writer than they are about Valerie Tagwira’s novel. Which is as it should be.

The thing I found particularly challenging about your brief comment is that you refer to a lot of concepts but do not really define them or adequately relate any of them to The Uncertainty of Hope. You also sound self-contradictory in places.

For example, although you’ve only read the first two chapters of the novel, you describe the language used in the novel as indicating “uncertainty”. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Does this uncertainty of language add to or take away from the story which the novel tells? Why do you say so?

You suggest that the manner in which language is used in the novel is “disturbing” and that it raises “the issue of audience”. You suggest that the fact that Tagwira uses Shona words and phrases in parts of her novel, this suggests that writing in English causes conflict between the writer and the message he/she is trying to convey. But aren’t all messages, regardless of the channel or medium that is used, aren’t they all like that? At work, at home, at school, when you are with others or when you are on your own,how many times have you asked yourself questions like: “Should I say this? Is this the right time? How best can I put this across? What’s the best word for this?”

You suggest that this conflict between the language used and the message, leads to writing that is “a bit journalistic or anthropological.” This is another fascinating but undefined concept. When a novel is “a bit journalistic” or “anthropological” what does it do? What does it not do? In what way is The Uncertainty of Hope “journalistic” or “anthropological”. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Why do you say so?

You reveal that at the UZ you spent some years arguing about “African literature and the issue of language.” How do those arguments relate to The Uncertainty of Hope? Also, what is Ngugism? What is a revisionary Ngugist? And what would be the revisionary Ngugist’s take on the novel?

You say Tagwira is trying to satisfy a foreign audience as well as a local audience. While you tell us that the local audience “rarely reads, cannot afford to read”, you do not really define either the local audience or the foreign audience. Is the local audience the author’s family and relatives, school mates, colleagues, circle of friends, acquaintances, village/town folk or country men? What makes these the local audience? Bear in mind that the author was born in Zimbabwe, grew up there and went to school there but now lives and works in London. Which is the foreign audience? The one that doesn’t speak Shona? The one that doesn’t speak English? The one that lives outside Zimbabwe or outside Africa? The one that lives outside London and Europe? Why do you say so?

Also, how successfully or unsuccessfully does Tagwira manage to create a world that both the foreign and the local reader can relate to? Why do you say so?

You suggest that because Tagwira has the foreign and local reader to think about, it creates in her a ‘double-consciousness.’You’ll need to talk about this a little bit more. What is it? How does it come out in The Uncertainty of Hope? Does it add to or take away from the novel? In what way? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Why?

You go on to suggest that because the author has this ‘double-consciousness’, The Uncertainty of Hope is ‘literary double-speak’. What do you mean?

While we are still on the issue of language and audiences, how would you compare The Uncertainty of Hope to a novel like Chenjerai Hove’s Bones?

You conclude your post by saying that those who have read Yvonne Vera, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie “should add Valerie Tagwira to their shelves” because these ladies “make us proud.” This sounds like a contradiction? And, who is us? How and why do these ladies make us proud? And, are there similarities and/or differences between Vera, Dangarembga, Adichie and Tagwira? Why do you say so?

October 8, 2007 7:30 PM
Emmanuel Sigauke said…
Revised & Updated Response to Ambrose.

Thanks, Ambrose, for the comments and your questions. So far I have posted only initial reactions to this book, but the review will be posted soon at Mototi Litscape. Let me, however, address your last set of questions, the ones regarding, the “ladies making us proud”. Adichie, Dangarembga, Tagwira have helped put the literature of Africa on the world map (and that’s a good thing, and good means good). All African writing that meets the kind of attention theirs has gotten (lately Adichie has become the African-writer celebrity), makes readers interested in African literature proud because of the exposure the writers give to the literary landscape of Africa (to be developed later).

A bit about the language issue and the double-consciousness: Often double consciousness, in its Dubois origins, is a state in which the writer or the elite feels at one with his/her people but cannot fully relate with their experiences and in talking about their concerns ends up mainly becoming what Gayatri Chaktravorty Spivak has called the “native informant” – in which case the audience becomes primarily foreign, consumers of the information about the people back home (or the people here). The author is located somewhere between the home and foreign consumer of his/her literature and so on. In The Uncertainty of Hope, the uncertainty of language is in the way sentences spoken by the characters are presented in two languages, as if the narrator is obligated to translate concepts as she goes. This is a common trend of literatures in the borderlands (the between-location voices that do not feel content with use of one language at a time to convey a message). What I have seen so far in The Uncertainty of Hope is the conveyance of a message using two languages, one coming to the aid of the other as if the Other (deliberately capitalized here) alone is unable to stand on its own. Shona in this context would be the medium that the writer chose not to use, but returns to for the untranslatable, which is then translated; thus we end up reading two sentences from two separate languages conveying the same messages. This transposition of the two languages is just one example of the uncertainty of language (the reading I have done so far allows me to react this way, but I cannot judge whether or not that adds anything to the novel). I can, however, infer that the narrator is aware of a linguistic void that this pairing of sentences from different languages serves. Again, this is an early reaction, paving the way for the long review. Let me not even get into Ngugism (a word I have coined for a purpose I will reveal later), at least for now, since I still have to finish reading the book.

October 8, 2007 9:52 PM
Ambrose Musiyiwa said…
I am also hoping that when you get around to writing the review, you will factor in the fact that almost all Zimbabweans speak more than one language and that most of them constantly switching between languages in any given conversation.

October 9, 2007 11:33 AM
Emmanuel Sigauke said…
My language concern goes beyond the habitual switch from one language to another in dialogue; it’s common in a lot of languages, and used well, it makes writing beautiful. Chicano writers have done a great job showing code-switching (from Spanish to English, vice-versa) in their characters’ speech.

The Shona-English issue in The Uncertainty of Hope brings another dimension: something is said in Shona (italicized), then the sentence, on the page, is followed by an English translation, what you would see in some type of bilingual prose. Am I saying this is a bad thing? At this point I don’t know, but I suspect this is done to sovle an issue to do with audience.