New Shona textbook hits market

HARARE - Dzidzai ChiShona 4: Bhuku Revana, By George Mujajati and S Manyere, Harare, College Press, 2012. 164 Pages ISBN: 978-1-77900-547-2 (Paperback)

Zimbabwe has very few writers who survive on their writing.

This is especially so when you look at those that write fiction.

Looking at the catalogue of Zimbabwean writers, both male and female, one notices a very long list.

The major reason has been that most publishers and booksellers prefer textbooks because they have a guaranteed market. This explains why writers like Shimmer Chinodya have enjoyed some measure of success.

Fiction writing has not been equally rewarding with most artists who remain pegion-holed in the genre not getting much financial reward from their works.

It could be for lure of the commercial value of textbook writing that some fiction writers like George Mujajati and Stanford Manyere have decided to try it out and they have done it successfully.

The latest addition to his catalogue of textbooks; Dzidzai ChiShona 4: Bhuku Revana, published by College Press,  is an invaluable  title.

Mujajati himself says of the book; “We saw that there was a gap. Most available books do not focus on skills. Dzidzai Shona 4’s thrust is on sharpening pupils’ language skills.

Again for any book to be successful in Zimbabwe, it has to be linked to education. This is another reason why we tried textbook writing with the hope the book will find its way into Zimbabwean schools.”

Dzidzai ChiShona 4 gives children the all-important foundation in the study of Zimbabwe’s major local language.

Over the years, children have not done well in their Grade Seven examinations precisely because they lacked this critical foundation.

Language study is often characterised by the mastery of a number of key skills like speaking, listening, reading and writing that particular language. Dzidzai ChiShona 4  comprises 31 chapters.

The comprehension passages given therein are relevant in that they use Zimbabwean experiences to teach pupils the skill of comprehension.

Passages are drawn from Zimbabwean history, culture, social life, health, science, geography, mathematics among several other subject areas.

The authors have reflected that they are experienced educationists themselves simply by being able to provide the relevant materials for the learning process.

The first chapter, titled Tsika dzaVaShona draws from a number of Zimbabwean traditional literary forms like praise poetry and gives the pupils the opportunity to probe their own backgrounds.

 Pupils are therefore made to discover as well as relate the exercise to some of the experiences at their won homes. That way the learning process is much easier.

Some of the chapters also make the pupils compare modern and traditional ways of life. Chapter 2, for instance looks at traditional as well as modern clothing.

The proverb is an important cog in Shona linguistic practice. Schoolchildren are often asked to write compositions based on proverbs and there are passages with proverbs as titles.

As a result the pupils learn first hand how this is done.

Exercises that pupils are tested on in public examinations later on in life are learnt at this juncture.

Typical example is the summary and letter writing, especially the informal letter.

Given there are Books one to three, co-authored with Simplicio Mupondi, pupils will therefore get a solid foundation in the study of Shona.

The book also gives revision exercises at particular intervals over and above the various written exercises the text contains.  

When asked how the book is going to be marketed, Mujajati lamented the closure of some of the traditional booksellers like Kingstons.

“With the exception of a few, most of the new bookshops that have emerged sell motivational as well as foreign materials. This could be one reason why street sales of books have continued to flourish in the country,” he said.

Mujajati is not new to the field of writing having authored several plays and novels in both Shona and English.

Some of the most notable ones are The Wretched Ones (play), Zinyekenyeke (play), Mwana Wamai, Fear Not My Brother (epistolary novels), The Son Will Rise Again (novel) and Victory (novel).

Manyere and Mujajati are both lecturers at Morgan Zintec College.

Manyere is in the Shona department while Mujajati is the Head of Department for Environmental Science.

As educationists themselves, the two authors’ book has all the ingredients of a worthy read which schools as well as parents should strive to make a part of their shelves. - Eddie Zviononzwa, Chief Sub-Editor

    Comments (3)

    I have 32 years in teaching Mathematics in State Secondary schools, graduated in UK. I have written 11 maths textbooks for secondary schools. I would like someone to market my books in Zimbabwe. Thanks

    Vishnou RUGHOONAUTH - 13 October 2014

    I have 32 years in teaching Mathematics in State Secondary schools, graduated in UK.

    Vishnou RUGHOONAUTH - 13 October 2014

    Hi Vishou I am a Maths tutor based in the UK and I am very interested in your books.I bought two of your books when I visited Mauritius in September. Please email me as I want to buy some of other books. Thanks Pravin

    Pravin Khoobloll - 19 November 2014

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