Author Panashe Chigumadzi
Title These Bones Will Rise Again
Genre Political Essay
Panashe Chigumadzi in this second offering of her book list provides us with a well-researched history of Zimbabwe’s four revolutions or Chimurengas as she calls them in her native Shona language. Chigumadzi does this through in-depth one on one interviews with people who were close to some of the aides of one of the leader who played a huge and influential role in the Chimurengas and the most celebrated spirit medium in the history of Zimbabwe, Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana or Mbuya Nehanda as she was called.
Chigumadzi paints a clear picture of the role that Mbuya Nehanda together with other ordinary women played in the Chimurengas, who defied an old nationalist fear about African women and their place in time.
However, in acknowledging the role that Mbuya Nehanda and other women played in the Chimurenga, this Zimbabwean native is asking valid questions as to whether the current ‘new democratic government’ under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnagwagwa has fully managed to accept responsibility in the Gukurahundi massacre and whether Mnagwagwa’s ascendency to the seat of power, was as a result of ‘the rise of bones’ from Zimbabwe’s spirit mediums, as Mbuya Nehanda once proclaimed that her ‘bones will rise again’.
But most importantly Chigumadzi is asking whether Zimbabweans, and especially men, have moved from their previous ill-conceived perception about women. She calls a disturbing incident during a ‘Fourteen-Day Revolution’. This, a period that resulted with the resignation of the then President Robert Mugabe, where many Zimbabweans, especially men were heard uttering these words to the then First Lady Grace Mugabe, ‘ Hatitongwe nehure’, loosely translated, we won’t be ruled by a whore.
While this book is a memoir of some sort, with Chigumadzi trying to reconnect with her original roots as a Shona woman, her family and also paying tribute to her grandmother Lillian Chigumadzi. In this book, like many Zimbabweans, she shows her skepticism of whether this ‘new Zimbabwe’ under Mnagwagwa can finally deliver its service to the people and also be able to ‘protect the legacy of Chumirenga’, as this was cited by the army as one reason why Mugabe was initially ousted from the state house in Harare.
Panashe’s ability to mix English and Shona words just shows how her writing has matured in time. She managed to match what fellow Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga managed to do in her novel Nervous Conditions, fusing both languages in her writing. Readers, especially non-Shona speakers will learn a lot of Shona words in the process.
This book is a must-read, especially for those born after liberation/Born frees as we like to call them. Despite the amount of research conducted, Chigumadzi has managed to keep all the chapters very short, which is good for the reader not to lose focus. For the amount of research done and her ability to use both Shona and English languages, I will give this book 9/10 rating.
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