“But, seriously, one thing does worry me. When the economy does recover…if it ever does…will we recover enough honesty to maintain economic order; or will we continue to operate as, to use Melody’s phrase, ‘semi-criminals’?” (Uncertainty 351).
These words by the young businessman and farmer, Tom, are revealing of one of the concerns of Valerie Tagwira’s Uncertainty of Hope. This is one of the places in the novel where what’s happening in the country today makes hope in the future appear uncertain. While these words show pessimism, the novel gives many possibilities for hope. For one, the experiences of the new situation are bringing major changes in the way the sexes relate, leading to a new consciousness about the roles of men and women. Tagwira empowers Onai, the hero of the novel, to bring a message of hope by showing her exploring her potential in order to resolve the difficulties in her life.
The change of her life circumstances, which eventually lead to her freedom, bring a fresh promise to the enduring spirit of survival. Of her children, Onai says, “They would not be oppressed by a system beyond their control,” because she “would do her best for them.” By the time the novel ends, we have already seen how people are coping – some have left the country but they send money back home, others have stayed and are making a difference in helping the society survive, some corrupt police officials are being brought to justice, and marriages are still occuring. All these are examples of hope in a society where hope seems impossible.
Perhaps to answer Tom’s question, one can say that when the economy recovers, and it will, honesty as a virtue will still exist. One aspect of the Zimbabwean community that’s likely to change drastically is culture and its religious implications. As the partriarchal system weakens, the cultural structures that support it will crumble as well. No matter how devastating the change in Zimbabwe is going to be, let’s bear in mind what William Faulkner said about the human spirit: “I believe that [it] will not merely endure: [it] will prevail.” Uncertain as it may seem, hope is the one ingredient that will enable the country recover.
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