Legendary author promises second novel

MUTARE? - Joyce Simango, whose book Zviuya Zviri Mberi, published in 1974, was the first book by a black woman in Zimbabwe, is currently working on her second novel.
The 68-year old writer, who attributes the 42-year hiatus partly to the frustration of not being allowed to write freely in her native tongue, told the Daily News on Sunday that she has been energised by the fact that Ndau is now recognised by Zimbabwe’s Constitution as one of the country’s official languages.

“I am working on another novel and I intend to use more Ndau than in my first novel but I will be sensitive to my wider readership by ensuring that all Zimbabweans will be able to understand it.

“If you write purely in Ndau even some speakers of the language might not understand it because there are many variations of Ndau,” Simango said.
The legendary author is also keen to facilitate the creation of a Ndau dictionary.

“I’m going to engage fellow Ndau writers and scholars to produce a Ndau dictionary so that we can even write pure Ndau books which people would be able to understand with the help of the dictionary,” Simango said.
The veteran writer, who was guest of honour at the fourth edition of the Ndau Festival of the Arts (Ndafa) held in Bangira Village in Chipinge District on September 24, is confident that the Ndau dictionary is feasible.

“At the Ndau festival, I felt so honoured and connected with fellow Ndau people who are united by the desire to preserve and promote Ndau language and culture,” the record-breaking author said.
Simango, who was born in Chikore, Chipinge District back in 1948, is happy to have inspired many generations of Zimbabwean female writers.

“It is interesting because I was a mere housewife when I wrote the book. I was just an avid reader. I would read everything I could lay my eyes on. I read every book in the Rusitu Mission Bookshop where I stayed with my husband who was a teacher,” Simango recalls.
Though Zviuya Zviri Mberi went on to break the “glass ceiling”, Simango revealed that the book almost failed to be published because the editor wanted her to cut out a significant part of her story.

“I felt the book was good the way it was but the editor felt otherwise. He asked me to cut out the story around one of my main characters and I was not comfortable with the suggestion so I just ignored it.
“After about five years they called me asking me to return the manuscript for them to publish it as it was,” Simango said.

In Zviuya Zviri Mberi, Simango explored relations between men and women in a fast-changing society. It is a story about Tambudzai whose father chooses a suitor for her and the poor girl is saved from such an arrangement by her mother.
The novel, which was originally published by Literature Bureau in 1974, was translated into English by award-winning author Petina Gappah in 2007. Gappah’s English version was titled Good Things Are Ahead.

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