red dust and hard lives



This is yet another one of the wonderful heinemann african writer series .Dambudzo was a Rhodesian /Zimbabwean writer ,he grew up in a trouble family studied at university in Zimbabwe and Oxford but was expelled from both due to causing unrest he lead a turbulent life and left very little writing behind him but what he did leave is considered the best south african writing of its period ,he did in 1987 aged only 35 .the book is a 80 page novella and 9 shorter stories they stretch from his native Zimbabwe to his student days in Oxford ,a lot of the african stories are set in the ghettos of Zimbabwe and encapsulate the struggle of growing up in this war-torn and poverty stricken country ,the stories set in england mainly discuss alienation of being a african in the uk ,there is a strong sense of the tales being based in part on Dambdzo own life .sometimes they don’t made easy reading but essential I would say in the post colonial southern africa he is potraying via the stories .

I had never killed a goat before .But it was christmas .and father who had always done it was dead .He had been dead for seven years .My sister Ruth could not possibly be expected to kill the goat .It was supposed to be a man’s job .And mother was dead too .There was the two of us in the house ,Ruth and I was on sabbatical from university and christmas I had hoped would be a break from the book

the start of the christmas reunion where a brother returns home for christmas with his sister

I enjoyed this book so much Dambudzo writing style is crisp and not flowery ,he catches in Rhodesia /Zimbabwe as huge changes are afoot in his homeland and he shows it through his characters eyes ,also he captures what must have been his own experiences in london and Oxford for the uk based stories alienation and also the racist attitudes at times from the british man on the street ,also I read and thought what a great loss at his early age has been for his homeland ,the great changes since the downfall of the Ian smith regime the fresh start but now the trnany of Robert Mugabe ,such a talent writer would have surely have been  a great voice for the everyman struggling under the present regime .A wonderful collection by a talented writer .

Winston’s scores –

I ve gone for something different this time A video and song by K’naan the african rapper about the hardship of every day life in the ghettos this seems to sum up parts of this book wonderfully .sometimes we forget how hard some peoples lives are everyday .

nervous conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

nervous conditions

This is considered a modern african classic ,the book follows Tambu a 14 year old  as she grows up in a changing Zimbabwe or Rhodesia as it was when the book was set .she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle Babmakuru a strict ,father figure .her brother has died ,she must get on with it .In what is a change world between african traditions and western (english) values and cultures .she manages this but shows along the away the effect on various members of her family as some want progress and other try to cling to the old ways .The is times of joy and sorrow along the way at times Tambu escapes to her garden .I loved the feel of this story and setting a society on the edge of a new post colonial age .the struggle of african and western influences on every day life in africa .Tsitsi has written a follow-up to this book which i am looking forward to reading to find out what happened to the family .

I was not sorry when my brother died .nor am I apologising for my callousness,as you may define it ,my lack of feeling .For it is not that at all .I feel many things these days when i was young and my brother died ,and there are reasons for this more than the consequence of age .therefore i shall not apologise but begin by recalling the facts …………..

the opening words of nervous conditions.

March 2023


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