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Archive for the ‘Book Excerpts’ Category

Read an excerpt from Donald Molosi’s We Are All Blue – the first print publication of a play from Botswana

Read an excerpt from Donald Molosi’s We Are All Blue – the first print publication of a play from Botswana

 

This Fiction Friday, read an excerpt from actor and playwright Donald Molosi’s groundbreaking We Are All Blue, the first Botswanan drama to be published in print form.

We Are All Blue is a collection of two plays, “Motswana: Africa, Dream Again” and “Blue, Black and White”, and includes an introduction by Quett Masire, former president of Botswana.

“Blue, Black and White” tells the story of Botswana’s first democratically elected president, Seretse Khama, and his interracial, transformative marriage to Ruth Williams in the 1940s. It is the longest-running one-man show in Botswana’s history and the first-ever Botswana play staged Off-Broadway in New York, for which Molosi won the 2011 United Solo Best Short Solo Award.

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Botswana’s independence, and Khama’s marriage is also the focus of a forthcoming film called A United Kingdom, which will David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King in Selma, and Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike, who starred most recently in Gone Girl. Molosi also has a small role in the film.

Molosi won the 2015 Bessie Head Short Story Award and was longlisted for the 2015 Short Story Day Africa Prize. He was also a facilitator for the 2015 Writivism creative writing workshops.

We Are All Blue was published by The Mantle in January.

“The publishing scene in Botswana favours textbooks, and so it is extremely difficult to publish and sell non-textbook material in Botswana,” Molosi said in an interview with World Literature Today. “What We Are All Blue offers is an opportunity to engage with Botswana of the past, present, and future at the same time.”

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Read an excerpt:

* * * * *
BLUE, BLACK AND WHITE
by
Donald Molosi

 

Based on the lives of Sir Seretse Khama (1921-1980)
and Lady Ruth Khama (1923-2002),
and the history of a nation.

ACT 1

Prologue

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. — Rumi

قوشعم روا قشاع
(“Lover and Beloved” in Urdu)

 
Present day is July 2002. A multiracial group of students enters and performs a folktale as the villagers of Serowe, perhaps accompanied by live guitar music. The students are also putting together the set and putting on costume as they tell the story.

This folktale is the theme to the class’s commemoration of Sir Seretse Khama Week, especially today (July 1) being Sir Seretse Khama Day. The class is also honoring Sir Seretse’s wife, Lady Ruth, who passed away two months prior to July 1, 2002.

ALL VILLAGERS: We begin this Sir Seretse Khama Week with the folktale that is our theme. The folktale is about a boy who brought his father back from the dead.

VILLAGER 1: It is said that there was once a boy who was living in a land far away from his kgota, his home. His father died while the boy was very young, so he did not know his father.

VILLAGER 2: When the boy was growing up and became aware that he did not have a father, he asked his mother.

ALL VILLAGERS: Mother, where is my father?

VILLAGER 3: And his mother replied—

ALL VILLAGERS: Your father is dead, my son. His name was Ngwedi, which means “the moon.”

VILLAGER 4: His mother had also since died. Hei!

VILLAGER 1: Now that the boy was growing older, he found himself wondering a lot about his father.

VILLAGER 4: People around him were treating the boy badly and beat him for no reason. He wanted his father’s protection.

VILLAGER 3: He wondered and wondered about his father and wanted desperately to see him. He wondered for days and weeks and months.

VILLAGER 2: One day he decided to yoke the donkeys to the wagon and set off for his father’s family dwelling place, his father’s kgota.

VILLAGER 1: Since his father’s name was Ngwedi, the kgota was also called Ngwedi, because he had been its headman when he was alive.

VILLAGER 2: It was evening when the boy left for his father’s kgota and the clouds were gathering over the moon. On the way he met a woman and sang out to her—

ALL VILLAGERS: Take heed, those who delay me! Where is Ngwedi’s kgota? Listen to what I ask, for the clouds are where the moon was. Don’t delay me.

VILLAGER 1: The woman said—

ALL VILLAGERS: Stay on this road, ngwanaka. You will meet some people going there. Ask them.

VILLAGER 3: Stay on this road. You will meet some people going there. Ask them.

VILLAGER 1: The boy continued his journey. On the way he met a man and he sang—

ALL VILLAGERS: Take heed, those who delay me! Where is Ngwedi’s kgota? Listen to what I ask, for the clouds are where the moon was. Don’t delay me.

VILLAGER 2: The old woman pointed to a place and said—

ALL VILLAGERS: That is the kgota you want over there, ngwanaka. Turn off the gravel road, walk a little bit and you will get to it.

VILLAGER 3: That is the kgota you want over there. Turn off the gravel road, walk a little bit and you will get to it.

VILLAGER 2: When the boy reached the kgota, he said to the people there—

LEFIKA: I am Morwangwedi, the son of Ngwedi. I want black sheep and white oxen; kill them for me. I am looking for the place where my father was buried.

VILLAGER 4: And so the people of the kgota took him to the kraal and showed him his father’s grave. The boy dug out his father’s bones and fastened them together. When he had done this, he took the meat of the sheep and oxen and put it on the bones. Then the boy began to sing—

LEFIKA: Take heed, those who delay me! Where is Ngwedi’s shirt? Listen to what I ask, for the clouds are where the moon was. Don’t delay me.

(As each item of clothing is mentioned, the villagers pull it out of their baskets and dress Lefika in it. Every time he puts on a new item of cloth- ing he transforms more into Sir Seretse Khama. Lefika is isolated from the rest of the ensemble. Soft, ethereal guitar music plays.)

VILLAGER 3: So the people of the kgota gave him his father’s shirt, and he put it on top of the meat of oxen and sheep, which was fastened to the bones.

VILLAGER 2: Then the boy asked for his father’s trousers in the same way.

VILLAGER 1: And his shoes.

VILLAGER 2: All the time urging them to hurry because the clouds were covering the moon.

VILLAGER 4: When the flesh was clothed, his father came to life! The boy yoked the donkeys, took his father, and set off back to where the boy had been living as an orphan. And when he arrived with his father, the people treated the boy like a king.

ALL VILLAGERS: They did not treat him badly like before, be- cause now he had his father to protect him.

(There is much jubilation and ululation. Lefika, one of the students has been transformed by the costume into Sir Seretse Khama. He poses as a statue of Sir Seretse and then melts out of the pose to deliver the follow- ing version of one of Sir Seretse’s speeches. Ensemble gathers around him and uses their bodies and configuration to establish a radio station studio and a microphone that Sir Seretse is speaking into. No music.)

LEFIKA: (Putting on his glasses.) Bagaetsho, we must write our history books to prove that we did have a past, and that this is  a past that is just as worth writing and learning about as any other. My fellow Batswana, we must excavate our history, dress it up in pride, intelligence, and foresight so that it may indeed come alive in our consciousness today.

(Lights fade and the rest of the speech is done in the fade-out to imply evanescent memory, or a glimpse.)

We must connect the present to the past so that the future may be secured. Because the past can disappear.


» read article

Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist: Claire Robertson on the genesis of her book The Magistrate of Gower (Plus: Excerpt)

Published in the Sunday Times

The Magistrate of GowerThe Magistrate of Gower
Claire Robertson (Umuzi)

I came across the story of General Sir Hector MacDonald, a British officer in the Boer War. He was the epitome of the noble outsider, a brave and brilliant general who was hounded to death for being of humble birth and gay (I am still not sure which the Establishment felt less able to forgive).

The discovery of his story (and the fact that one of his lovers was said to have been a Boer prisoner of war) coincided with growing unease on my part at the resurgence of nationalism and the current rise of false history – a distortion of the recent past to serve a dishonourable political agenda.

These two preoccupations came together in The Magistrate of Gower. Very fortunately for the reader, though, such Big Ideas tend to take a back seat to the human lives and loves when one comes to tell the story, and in the end the book is about a young woman and the magistrate of a small town playing out the proof of Oscar Wilde’s subversive observation: “The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray.”

Extract

(The year is 1938, the scene a street in the town of Gower. Mrs Poley is a leading figure in the shack settlement on the town’s outskirts.)

It is almost summer, and on Church Street children in cotton nightdresses and pyjamas chase one another among the adults. About halfway down the street the magistrate is speaking quietly to Mr Theron, watching Mrs Cordier rattle her collecting box. And here it comes, a rough shriek. A shriek, a screech, a scream:

“Tim! You bloody bastard! Tim! I will bloody smash you!”

It is Mrs Poley, out of breath and in a terrible dress. She is trying to run and at the same time has one of her bosoms in her left hand to push it back behind the bib of her apron as she comes around a corner into the bright light of Church Street. She stops dead at the sight of them, a street of people playing Statues and all of them looking at her. For a long second she does not move either — her hand on her breast in its loose dress as though she is holding a spanspek high on her chest, breathing like a running dog, and a boy’s stupid giggle the only other sound.

She folds her arms across her bosom. She starts to smile a sorry-boss smile, then lifts her chin and scowls at them.

Somewhere among the stock-still people on the street the dog Tim is still running, and as he comes into the light they can see that he has in his jaws a leguaan, dead, its monkeylike black claws moving as he runs, as though they are reaching for something and falling back, reaching and falling. Its tail hangs almost to the ground and the dog has to hold its head high to keep it from dragging on the tar. Now the town dogs are streaking up the street to attack, and although men shout at them and try to block them, there is no chance that these dogs will not go after something that is, rolled into one, an intruder and limping and carrying a trophy.

In a second they have it from him.

The dog Tim trots a few steps away from them and looks back, as a jackal would, but the town dogs, curiously enough, just stop where they are, as though they are waiting for orders.

Mrs Poley, meanwhile, is on the move towards her dog, her face dark with risen blood. Mr Theron says, “No, man,” in Afrikaans, softly, and as Mrs Poley passes Vena Cordier, Vena lifts the fingers of one gloved hand to her nose, an extra unkindness.

Before the woman can reach her dog, Mr Villiers from the bank steps up and speaks the name of his dog; it is a ridiculous town name, Monroe. The big yellow dog with the leguaan in its mouth comes to its master at once. Mr Villiers waits a moment and then says, in the same actor’s tenor: “Sit. Sit. Drop it.”

Monroe obeys to the letter and Mr Villiers takes out his handkerchief and picks up the great lizard, holds it away from him with both hands, a strangler’s grip, and steps into the sanitation lane left over from when Gower was on buckets. They hear the dustbin lid lifting and being jammed tight again, then Mr Villiers is back in the light, wiping his hands on the same hanky. He gives Mrs Poley a schoolmaster’s look. She, breathless with anger, tries to catch sight of her dog among the people on the street, calling “Tim! Tim!”, but something in her voice scares him worse than the town dogs and he takes off, splashing urine on his paws. The giggling boy laughs like a bark. Mr Theron says again, under his breath, “Ag, no, man.”

The magistrate steps out from among the townsfolk and walks quickly across the street to where the big woman stands alone among the proper Gower people. He takes her elbow and turns her, and all the time he has his head down near her face, talking to her, pointing with his free hand. In this way he brings her away from staring Gower and back to her corner, where he takes leave of her with a tip of his hat.

The magistrate, returning to Theron’s side, is already regretting his actions. He had felt the heat and agitation of the woman’s outrage when he held her arm and brought her away from the lit street to the threshold of the darker part of Gower. He regretted doing so, regretted doing anything at all. She had hated him, was humiliated, he thought, had furiously strained against a world where cunning and strength and the essential art of veld foraging to feed a family (if that was the intended fate of the leguaan) must bend the knee to the bland ambitions of respectability, to this ascendancy of herd animals.

The dogs have returned to sit at their masters’ feet.

Book details


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Nigeria has a new star: Read an excerpt from Jowhor Ile’s ‘unforgettable’ debut, And After Many Days

Nigeria has a new star: Read an excerpt from Jowhor Ile's 'unforgettable' debut, And After Many Days

 
And After Many DaysThis Fiction Friday, read an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Jowhor Ile’s newly released debut novel, And After Many Days.

Fiction fans in the know have been waiting for this book since Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie mentioned it in an interview with the Boston Review back in 2013: “There’s a young man called Johwor Ile who is just finishing a novel, who I think is really spectacular,” she said. “His novel, when it comes out, will be very good.”

And now, it’s out!

And After Many Days has also received high praise from literary luminaries such as Taiye Selasi, Chigozie Obioma, Uzodinma Iweala and Binyavanga Wainaina, who says:

Jowhor Ile is a rare talent. This rich book is ripe with mood and full of love, masterfully written with the perfect emotional pitch. Nigeria has a new star.

Jowhor Ile was born in 1980 and raised in Nigeria, where he currently lives. His fiction has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly and Litro Magazine. And After Many Days is his first book.

Scroll down for an excerpt.

About the book

An unforgettable debut novel about a boy who goes missing, a family that is torn apart, and a nation on the brink

During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family’s life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of 17-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son. As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy, they embark on a painful and moving journey of immense power which changes their lives forever and shatters the fragile ecosystem of their once ordered family.

Ajie, the youngest sibling, is burdened with the guilt of having seen Paul last and convinced that his vanished brother was betrayed long ago. But his search for the truth uncovers hidden family secrets and reawakens old, long forgotten ghosts as rumours of police brutality, oil shortages, and frenzied student protests serve as a backdrop to his pursuit.

In a tale that moves seamlessly back and forth through time, Ajie relives a trip to the family’s ancestral village where, together, he and his family listen to the myths of how their people settled there, while the villagers argue over the mysterious Company, who found oil on their land and will do anything to guarantee support. As the story builds towards its stunning conclusion, it becomes clear that only once past and present come to a crossroads will Ajie and his family finally find the answers they have been searching for.

And After Many Days introduces Ile’s spellbinding ability to tightly weave together personal and political loss until, inevitably, the two threads become nearly indistinguishable. It is a masterful story of childhood, of the delicate, complex balance between the powerful and the powerless, and a searing portrait of a community as the old order gives way to the new.

Chapter One

Paul turned away from the window and said he needed to go out at once to the next compound to see his friend. It was a Monday afternoon in the rainy season of 1995. Outside, the morning shower had stopped and the sun was gathering strength, but water still clung to the grass on the lawn. “I’m going to Fola’s house, “he said again to his brother Ajie, who was lying on the couch, eyes closed, legs hooked up the back of the chair. If Ajie heard, then he gave no sign.

Ajie sighed as a woman presenter’s voice came up on the radio, cutting through the choral music, “Why do they always interrupt at the best part?” Paul floundered by the door as though he had changed his mind; then he bent to buckle his sandals, slung his backpack on, left the house and did not return.

At least this is one way to begin to tell this story.

Things happen in clusters. They would remember it as the year Mile Three Ultra Modern market burnt down in the middle of the night. The year the Trade Fair came to town and Port Harcourt city council, in preparation for this major event, commissioned long brightly painted buses which ran for cheap all the way from Obigbo to Borokiri (a full hour’s journey for a mere two Naira!). It was the year of the poor. Of rumours, radio announcements, student riots, and sudden disappearance. It was also the year news reached them of their home village Ogibah, that five young men had been shot dead by the square in broad daylight and the sequence of events which led to this remained open to argument. Ajie stretched out and yawned, then dropped his arm and let it dangle from where he lay on the couch. He heard the gate creak as Paul let himself out and the house fell back to the radio music and the sound of Bibi, their middle sister, blow-drying her hair in the bathroom. Ajie and Bibi were due back in school that weekend. Their tin trunks were packed, school day uniforms already ironed and hanging, waiting in wardrobes. Their mother, Ma, went through the school lists, as she always did before the start of each term, checking if everything had been bought. Paul had just finished his final School Certificate exams that past June, so he stayed back at home while Ajie and Bibi spent hot afternoons at Mile One market with Ma, buying school supplies for the term: textbooks, notebooks, buckets, mosquito nets, provisions, T-squares, drawing boards, four figure tables, cutlasses, brooms and jerry cans.

Their father Bendic had decided that since Bibi’s school was on the outskirts of town, she would be dropped off on Saturday evening. Ajie’s school was four hours away, so they had all of Sunday reserved for his journey. The blue Peugeot 504 station wagon was sent out to the mechanic for servicing. For a whole afternoon their driver, Marcus, sat under the guava tree and read a paper and fanned himself and when the cloud changed face, he carried his seat into the gate house where Ismaila had a little pot set on the stove. The pot boiled and the lid clattered against the rim, letting go a fold of steam that escaped through the windows into the trees outside, and the sharp scent of dadawa sauce reached toward the main house.

*

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See an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg, a fotonovela from the latest Chronic – with Isabel Hofmeyr as an evil villain

Read an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg, the fotonovela featured in the latest edition of Chronic

 
This Fiction Friday, feast your eyes on Jabu Goes to Joburg, a fotonovela by Achal Prabhala that features as a pull-out supplement that rubs with the latest edition of Chimurenga’s Chronic.

The April edition of the Chronic explores “the tensions between reform and revolution, and decolonisation and the neoliberal order in the academy, through the lens of history and via the alternate education paradigms based in indigenous knowledge systems, and also arising from South Africa’s radical anti-apartheid struggle”.

Contributors include Rustum Kozain, Masande Ntshanga, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Florence Madenga, Ed Pavlic, Jon Soske, Meghna Singh, Abdourahman Waberi, Nick Mulgrew, Lindokuhle Nkosi, Wendell Marsh, Nick Mwaluko, and many more.

To buy a copy in print or as a PDF head to the Chronic‘s online shop or find your nearest stockist.

Of Jabu Goes to Joburg, Prabhala says: “I’m particularly excited to see this in print for several reasons, not least of which is that the form itself has been dead for two decades – even though every South African over the age of 30 will recognise what we are doing.

“There are some surprising people in the fotonovela, including Isabel Hofmeyr – an intellectual I deeply admire, and the deeply respectable author of too many books to name – taking on the thoroughly disrespectable role of a fur-clad golden-gloved crime boss. Which is something I hope you’ll enjoy!”

Read an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg, the fotonovela featured in the latest edition of Chronic

 

Jabu Goes to Joburg was produced by Pam Dlungwana, and the full cast list is: Euridice Kala, Tiyiselani Kubayi, Phindile Cindi, Suraj Yengde, Meghan Judge, Nicky Falkof, Pule, Francis Burger, Nana Zajiji, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt, Gilles Baro, Achal Prabhala, Dean Hutton, Skhumbuzo Mbixane, Sibusiso “The General” Nxumalo and Isabel Hofmeyr.

In an interview with the Chronic, Prabhala explains the project:

I haven’t actually seen “Jim comes to Joburg”. I’ve heard of it, of course, but I don’t think I’ll be watching it any time soon. I find it massively annoying that every urban story in South Africa is some version of “XYZ comes to Joburg” – and essentially the same story: good-hearted wide-eyed rural man/woman comes to the city of gold to seek his/her fortune and gets screwed. Alan Paton wrote “Cry, the Beloved Country” in 1948 and that little snowflake he kicked down the mountain kept rolling, and rolling, and became an avalanche. So much so that 70 years later, the big feature films set in the city – I’m thinking of Tsotsi and Jerusalema – are about little more than how the whole place is some kind of torrid hallucination. It’s as if there’s a rule; a mandatory clause that requires all creative people to plumb the stygian depths of Joburg in any narrative of the place, from which no one is exempt – not even, for instance, the young, black, male writer of a promising blog-turned-book called the “Diary of a Zulu girl” in which said Zulu girl makes the long journey to Joburg only to immediately descend into prostitution.

He also has time for some praise for pulp fiction:

One of the casualties of a high-minded literary culture everywhere – from South Africa to India and to the United States – is the devaluation and gradual disappearance of pulp fiction. Literary culture can degrade popular culture all it likes, but the lurid stories being sold on the streets of Lagos, São Paulo, Hong Kong or Bangalore – where I live – have the stamp of democracy. Mostly terrible, sometimes passable, and very rarely wonderful, the book on the street is, however, always a sign of a population in control. And as much as I regret the loss of the steamy paperback in middle-class literary life, I am reminded of how the sentiment still exists when I read the tabloids, or internet fan fiction, or see popular social media memes. Google Mugabe’s misstep on the tarmac, or Zuma’s weekend-special Finance Ministry appointment, and then read our fotonovela: you’ll see the same thing going on – ordinary people crudely photoshopping their reality on earth into the preferred universe of their imagination. Pulp fiction has only disappeared from print, not from our lives.

 
Chimurenga has shared an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg with Books LIVE. Have a look:

Excerpt Jabu Goes to Joburg, the fotonovela featured in the latest edition of Chimurenga's Cronic by Books LIVE


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Read an excerpt from Julian Barnes’s ‘masterpiece’: The Noise of Time

Julian Barnes The Noise of Time

 
The Noise Of TimeFor today’s Sunday Read, dip into the latest book from Julian Barnes, The Noise of Time.

The Noise of Time, Barnes’s first novel since his Man Booker Prize-winning The Sense of an Ending, is a fictionalised retelling of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s life under Stalin:

In 1936, Shostakovich, just 30, fears for his livelihood and his life. Stalin, hitherto a distant figure, has taken a sudden interest in his work and denounced his latest opera. Now, certain he will be exiled to Siberia (or, more likely, executed on the spot), Shostakovich reflects on his predicament, his personal history, his parents, various women and wives, his children—and all who are still alive themselves hang in the balance of his fate. And though a stroke of luck prevents him from becoming yet another casualty of the Great Terror, for decades to come he will be held fast under the thumb of despotism: made to represent Soviet values at a cultural conference in New York City, forced into joining the Party and compelled, constantly, to weigh appeasing those in power against the integrity of his music. Barnes elegantly guides us through the trajectory of Shostakovich’s career, at the same time illuminating the tumultuous evolution of the Soviet Union. The result is both a stunning portrait of a relentlessly fascinating man and a brilliant exploration of the meaning of art and its place in society.

Alex Preston of The Guardian calls the book “Barnes’s masterpiece”:

The Noise of Time initially appears to be the latest addition to a hybrid literary form with which we are increasingly familiar – the fictional biography. Recent examples range from Colm Tóibin’s The Master (which presented a repressed and unhappy Henry James) to Nuala O’Connor’s excellent Miss Emily (which gave us a wilful and tormented Emily Dickinson). As with all great novels, though – and make no mistake, this is a great novel, Barnes’s masterpiece – the particular and intimate details of the life under consideration beget questions of universal significance: the operation of power upon art, the limits of courage and endurance, the sometimes intolerable demands of personal integrity and conscience.

Read an excerpt from the beginning of The Noise of Time:

One to hear
One to remember
And one to drink.

It happened in the middle of wartime, on a station platform as flat and dusty as the endless plain surrounding it. The idling train was two days out from Moscow, heading west; another two or three to go, depending on coal and troop movements. It was shortly after dawn, but the man – in reality, only half a man – was already propelling himself towards the soft carriages on a low trolley with wooden wheels. There was no way of steering it except to wrench at the contraption’s front edge; and to stop himself from overbalancing, a rope that passed underneath the trolley was looped through the top of his trousers. The man’s hands were bound with blackened strips of cloth, and his skin hardened from begging on streets and stations.

His father had been a survivor of the previous war. Blessed by the village priest, he had set off to fight for his homeland and the Tsar. By the time he returned, priest and Tsar were gone, and his homeland was not the same. His wife had screamed when she saw what war had done to her husband. Now there was another war, and the same invader was back, except that the names had changed: names on both sides. But nothing else had changed: young men were still blown to bits by guns, then roughly sliced by surgeons. His own legs had been removed in a field hospital among broken trees. It was all in a great cause, as it had been the time before. He did not give a fuck. Let others argue about that; his only concern was to get to the end of each day. He had become a technique for survival. Below a certain point, that was what all men became: techniques for survival.

A few passengers had descended to take the dusty air; others had their faces at the carriage windows. As the beggar approached, he would start roaring out a filthy barrack-room song. Some passengers might toss him a kopeck or two for the entertainment; others pay him to move on. Some deliberately threw coins to land on their edge and roll away, and would laugh as he chased after them, his fists working against the concrete platform. This might make others, out of pity or shame, hand over money more directly. He saw only fingers, coins and coat-sleeves, and was impervious to insult. This was the one who drank.

The two men travelling in soft class were at a window, trying to guess where they were and how long they might be stopping for: minutes, hours, perhaps the whole day. No information was given out, and they knew not to ask. Enquiring about the movement of trains – even if you were a passenger on one – could mark you as a saboteur. The men were in their thirties, well old enough to have learnt such lessons. The one who heard was a thin, nervous fellow with spectacles; around his neck and wrists he wore amulets of garlic. His travelling companion’s name is lost to history, even though he was the one who remembered.

The trolley with the half-man aboard now rattled towards them. Cheerful lines about some village rape were bellowed up at them. The singer paused and made the eating sign. In reply, the man with spectacles held up a bottle of vodka. It was a needless gesture of politeness. When had a beggar ever turned down vodka? A minute later, the two passengers joined him on the platform.

And so there were three of them, the traditional vodka-drinking number. The one with spectacles still had the bottle, his companion three glasses. These were filled approximately, and the two travellers bent from the waist and uttered the routine toast to health. As they clinked glasses, the nervous fellow put his head on one side – the early-morning sun flashing briefly on his spectacles – and murmured a remark; his friend laughed. Then they threw the vodka down in one go. The beggar held up his glass for more. They gave him another shot, took the glass from him, and climbed back on the train. Thankful for the burst of alcohol coursing through his truncated body, the beggar wheeled himself towards the next group of passengers. By the time the two men were in their seats again, the one who heard had almost forgotten what he had said. But the one who remembered was only at the start of his remembering.

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Read an excerpt from Roland Rugero’s Baho! – the first Burundian novel to be translated into English

Read an excerpt from Roland Rugero’s Baho! – the first Burundian novel to be translated into English

 
Baho!It’s Fiction Friday! Read an excerpt from Roland Rugero’s Baho! – the first Burundian novel to be translated into English.

Baho! was translated from French by Chris Schaefer.

The novel is published by Phoneme Media, a nonprofit publishing house for literature in translation based in the United States, who last year released Cameroonian author Inongo-vi-Makomè’s English-language debut, Natives.

Rugero is a writer, journalist, and literary activist, and the author of two novels. He is the co-founder of the Samandari Workshop and helped establish the Michel Kayoza and Andika Prizes. He lives in Kigali, Rwanda.

French speakers can enjoy a video of Rugero, taken during his time at the prestigious International Writing Program residency at the University of Iowa in the United States.

YouTube Preview Image

 

Read two excerpts below

About the book

In Baho!, the first Burundian novel ever translated into English, the 28-year-old Roland Rugero uses elements of fable and oral tradition to explore the themes of miscommunication and justice in his war-torn Central African nation.

When Nyamugari, an adolescent mute, attempts to ask a young woman in rural Burundi for directions to an appropriate place to relieve himself, his gestures are mistaken as premeditation for rape. To the young woman’s community, his fleeing confirms his guilt, setting off a chain reaction of pursuit, mob justice, and Nyamugari’s attempts at explanation.

About the author

Born in 1986 in Burundi, Roland Rugero grew up in a family where reading was a favorite pastime. He has worked as a journalist in Burundi since 2008. His novels include Les Oniriques and Baho!, the first Burundian novel to be translated into English. Rugero has held residencies at La Rochelle and at Iowa’s prestigious International Writing Program. In addition to his work as a writer, in 2011 he wrote and directed Les pieds et les mains, the second-ever feature-length film from Burundi. Rugero is active in promoting Burundi’s literary culture, co-founding the Samandari Workshop and helping found the Michel Kayoza and Andika Prizes. He lives in Kigali, Rwanda.

About the translator

Chris Schaefer is a translator from the Spanish and French living in Paris. He has won the Ezra Pound Award for Best Translation from the University of Pennsylvania for his translations of the Cuban poet Javier Marimón. In 2012 he participated in the English PEN Translation Slam at the Poetry Parnassus in London. He lives in Paris.

Baho! excerpt one, courtesy of Molossus:

I

Kahise gategura kazoza
The past prepares the future

It is November and the heavens are naked.

Ashamed, they attempt to tug a few clouds over to cover up under the merciless sun, which, with resolve, determination, and clarity, brings to light their nudity.

Naked, blue. Water blue, the color of Lake Tanganyika, that undulating plain to the West. Springs scattered across the valleys surrounding Kanya: not so long ago the water there was clear and crystalline, abundant. Now it is absent. A dry November.

Tucked in among Hariho’s many hills, Kanya has bravely weathered this dry season’s constant onslaught of heat, which has always tormented the region. He has to breathe. She also waits for the rain. Thirst for air and for humidity.

Kanya’s hill is still draped in eucalyptus belonging to the National Forest. Countless, dense, and lofty. The sun causes dry and prickly leaves to spread. No water; the sky has become evil.

Or rather the men have become guilty of too many sins. The punishment of God: too much evil in this country.

The old woman stands at the foot of the hill. Her worn check leans on the shepherd’s crook that she uses to tend the two small kids digging up weeds and stones in an effort to round out their scrawny bellies.

The sun’s harshness meets her eye. She has understood that time is up.

Baho! excerpt two, courtesy of Words Without Borders:

Nkunda kurya yariye igifyera kimumena amatama
The glutton ate the snail; it made his cheeks explode

By the time the sun’s luminous fingers had come to rest on Hariho’s fields, his neck was already sore. Undeniably, nights are cold in these parts. This morning he had come down to this trickle of water to rest, like a mosquito sated after a night pumping blood from the depths of fatigued and world-weary veins. He was calm, brimming with images from last night and the mouthfuls he had swiped here and there during his social calls.

All in all, he was quite pleased with himself, for his hunger was appeased. That is wisdom itself, he mused. In the peacefulness of the morning, he thought back to the evenings of his childhood. They were long gone, ten years at least. The sights and sounds had remained with him—the fresh wood, the banana tree’s moist leaves covering the fields nestled right up next to the hills, bulls bellowing their greatness, and cows reflecting the sunset’s soft orange light. He recalled the arrival of those childhood nights. He could narrate it as if by sight.

When the sun had departed, evening would sweep in. Then, the biting cold breezes that crouched in the valley’s depths would climb the hills and skim the houses preparing for night. They would catch the smoke rising from chimneys, and then, in passing, greet the youths returning home with water jugs on their heads.

Everyone was climbing back up to the hamlets perched on the hills. Slowly, in fits and starts, in the company of good friends.

Book details

Cover art: Jaya Nicely/Author image: Takepart


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Read an interview with Bontle Senne and read an excerpt from her debut book: Powers of the Knife

Bontle Senne

 

Powers of the KnifeRead an extract from Bontle Senne’s debut novel Powers of the Knife – Book 1 in the “Shadow Chasers” series, an Afrocentric, contemporary children’s read.

Senne is no stranger to the book world – her work “includes writing and reviewing books, consulting, thinking about digital innovation in publishing, being on the board of three education NGOs and being a minority owner of a feminist publishing house”.

Powers of the Knife is published by Cover2Cover Books and will be launched at Love Books in Melville, Johannesburg, on 14 April.

The book is written for older children, and includes illustrations. It’s homegrown fantasy that kicks off in Jozi and takes its readers to the rural areas to search out family history … all via a magical dreamworld that is stranger than imagination.

Author Sarah Lotz calls it “fast, fun, and a blast to read”.

Senne will be appearing at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and at the Kingsmead Book Fair.

We asked her about the shift from advocacy to writing fantasy adventure for children – what she describes as “no rules, fear is normal, risking everything is what it takes” genre.

Read an extract below.

Why have you chosen to write for this age group?

On my first day working in publishing, as an intern at Modjaji Books, my boss Colleen Higgs said to me, “What we really need are local children’s books. If you want to make a different in local publishing, make children’s books”. At the time, I was young(er) and a little self-important so I rejected the idea immediately: I wanted to make “serious” books. I wanted to write “important” literary novels. But over time I realised that, in a Southern African context, children’s books are the most important books we have. There are few books for this age group that are contemporary, Afrocentric, accessible and just fun.

And why these characters?

I love writing girls that kick-ass so that was a given. Nom had to be different from some of the other girls I was writing at the time and – because I had already decided to name her after my mom – I weirdly thought about what my mom would have been like at that age. Their personalities are pretty similar: action-orientated, fiercely loyal and independent. But Nom needed to have some kind of counter-balance so I wrote a bit of myself into Zee: more analytical and skeptical, more grounded but willing to take as many risks for things that are important to him. I find that they are still growing to be more like themselves, and less like who I initially thought they were, every time I write them.

What is next for the characters in the story? Any sneak highlights to look forward to in the next book?

Dragons! Winter is coming! No, I joke … next is finding Zee’s knife. More monsters, more Shadow Chasers, more of Nom running face-first into danger …

Are you as adventurous as the characters in your book?

I’m not fighting a secret army of monsters or anything but kind of, yes. I have a very risk-taking nature and I get more impulsive as I get older. As long as it doesn’t involve heights or extreme sports, I’m in.

* * * * *

Read an extract from Chapter 9 of Powers of the Knife:

What?” Nom asks.

“Nomthandazo, we don’t have time for this now. Think of a house – quickly!” Itumeleng says.

Nom does what Itumeleng says. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.

Nom tries to think of the kind of house she’s seen on TV. A house surrounded by trees and a high brick wall to protect it. A house made of wood with a big bedroom for her and one for Zithembe.

nullOne that smells like Gogo’s cooking all the time and where she can have chocolate anytime she wants.

“You did it!” says Itumeleng.

Nom opens her eyes to see that the garden has vanished. In its place the house she was just thinking of has appeared.

“Wow,” Nom says, staring in amazement at the house.

Itumeleng pushes her from behind in the direction of the front door. “We have to hurry.”

“OK, OK,” says Nom. “I’m going!”

Itumeleng opens the front door and steps aside so Nom can enter. The smell of Gogo’s cooking is everywhere. Nom heads straight for the pile of chocolate on the table in the TV room.

While she is unwrapping her first chocolate, they hear the sound of something big landing on the roof. The whole house seems to shake.

“What was that?” Nom asks.

“You have your Shadow Chaser’s knife, don’t you? That’s the only way you can enter the dreamworld. It’s also the only way to make wishes in the dreamworld,” Itumeleng replies. “But the monster that trapped me here took away my knife: my wishes don’t come true any more.

“The thing is, the dreamworld can also make your nightmares come true. That’s what is happening now. The Army knows you are here, they can feel your magic. So they sent some of your nightmares here to find you.”

Nom is on the verge of remembering all the bad dreams she’s ever had, but she immediately stops herself. In this world, whatever she thinks of can actually happen. She has to be careful about where she lets her mind go.

Nom puts down her chocolate and takes a deep breath. “What did you say about a monster trapping you here? And what is this Army you were talking about?”

“You have a lot of questions, bathong,” Itumeleng says, smiling. It’s the first time that Nom has seen her smile. She realises that Zithembe has his mother’s smile.

Nom doesn’t say anything but waits to hear Itumeleng speak. What Zithembe’s mother knows is important, and Nom feels they may not have very much time to talk. She can hear what she thinks are monkeys climbing the trees around the house. Nom hates monkeys.

“I am a Shadow Chaser,” Itumeleng says, “which means that I am part of a special group of people who are meant to protect people in the real world from the monsters in the dreamworld. Your aunt was a Shadow Chaser, you are a Shadow Chaser and so is Zithembe.”

 
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Author image courtesy of Africa 4 Tech


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The day I was asked to shop my comrades for high treason – Extract from Fordsburg Fighter: the journey of an MK volunteer

Published in the Sunday Times

An edited extract from Fordsburg Fighter: the journey of an MK volunteer by Amin Cajee, as told to Terry Bell (Cover 2 Cover Books)

Fordsburg FighterThe words echoed in my head: “You are guilty of high treason and the penalty is death.” I froze. Terrified. It was September 1966; I was 24 years old. I was in Kongwa, an ANC camp in Tanzania.

And I was going to die.

The man who spoke those words was Joe Modise, a senior representative of the ANC, a movement which, we were often told, should be regarded as our mother and father.

We were all South Africans a long way from home, families and friends, frustrated fighters stranded in a foreign country and totally reliant on the ANC. The movement had control over every aspect of our lives.

I had no idea what would happen when my name was called out in the camp and I was escorted into a room to stand before a tribunal.

Looking severe, Modise informed me I was being charged with high treason: with the help of a foreign power, I and others had plotted to overthrow the leadership of the ANC. The other accused were friends of mine – “Pat” (Patrick Molaoa), who had been an accused in the Treason Trial; “Mntungwa” (Vincent Khumalo); “Ali” (Hussain Jacobs); and “Mogorosi” (Michael Thomolang). They were to be tried separately and the penalty we all faced was death.

I remained mute, staring blankly ahead, my mind racing and unable to make any sense of the charge. The other four panel members – “Paul Peterson” (Basil February), Boycie Bodibe, Chris Hani and Jack Gatiep – looked on impassively as Joe informed me there were witnesses to a meeting at which this plot had been hatched. They had given evidence that we had all been in touch with the Chinese embassy in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam.

This was insane. I blurted out: “You are not serious, are you?” But they were. They were charging us with having established links with the embassy, 240km to the southeast, in Dar, when we were restricted to the camp and village, without postal, let alone radio, communications.

Chris emphasised the seriousness of the charge, with Boycie threatening me with very serious consequences, among them execution in various brutal ways. I denied that I had been involved in anything treasonous and asked who the witnesses were and if I could question them. The request was refused.

It was then that I was thrown a cynical lifeline by “Paul Peterson”. He addressed me in a friendly way, telling me that “all this can be sorted out”. What I had to do was to confirm that “Pat” and “Mntungwa” had initiated the scheme.

I realised then that the whole charade was really about “Pat” and “Mntungwa”, who were apparently seen by Joe as a threat at a time [of] much jockeying for power and position. Both were well known in the movement in South Africa and had considerable support in the camp. Unlike Joe, they had top positions in the ANC before it was banned.

They had initially been sent for training in China. But now China and the ANC’s main backer, the Soviet Union, were at loggerheads.

When I refused to agree, the panel threatened me with serious consequences. My death sentence, I was told, could mean being taken to a game park where I would be left for wild animals I was frightened, but I couldn’t help them, and said so. An order was given and I was marched out and locked in a tiny windowless room.

I realised that I had been dragged into a bitter power struggle that seemed to be based on language lines – between isiXhosa speakers from the Cape and isiZulu speakers from Natal. There had also been an incident weeks earlier involving 29 members of the “Natal group”. Although Modise was from Johannesburg and a Setswana speaker, he had allied himself with what was referred to as the “Cape group”.

The incident that triggered my trial was referred to as Operation 29 because that was the number of Natal comrades who had mutinied by taking the camp’s only truck.

Late one morning at the end of August 1966the Natal group had boarded the truck and left the camp at high speed. There was pandemonium, with the commanders running around. At least an hour passed before the camp was calm again.

Jack Gatiep, one of the commanders, addressed us. He at first told the story in a matter-of-fact way. Dar es Salaam had been informed and the Tanzanian authorities alerted.

But then Jack’s language and mood changed. These men, he said, were traitors and deserters, enemies of “the people of South Africa”. They had been planted by the South African security forces. They would be caught and dealt with without mercy. This rhetoric seemed to inflame the mood of some of the comrades and Chris Hani led the charge, calling for the death penalty.

As we heard later, the truck was intercepted at a Tanzanian army roadblock near Morogoro. It was about 4pm when the truck trundled back into camp, with the 29 mutineers in high spirits, singing freedom songs. They disembarked, formed ranks and stood to attention, waiting for instructions. The rest of us stood watching the spectacle.

Rubin stepped forward from the ranks of the Natal group.The reason for taking the vehicle, he said, was to convey their grievances to the leadership in Lusaka. For years there had been no serious attempt to move the struggle south and into South Africa. What they had done was to highlight their frustration at the inaction of the leadership.

The commanders, having bayed for their blood, were at a loss as to how to handle the situation. Eventually, they simply dismissed them after telling them it was not the end of the matter; they would be tried for mutiny.

As we waited for the next move from the commanders, the atmosphere in the camp was extremely tense. Groups were coalescing and seen to be meeting at different locations late into the night. My friend Omar and I kept a low profile.

As we hoped, it was only a matter of days before some of the top leadership arrived in Kongwa. Acting ANC president Oliver Tambo came along with ANC and SACP leaders Moses Kotane, JB Marks and Moses Mabhida, a major ANC figure in Natal. With them were Mzwai Piliso, Mendi Msimang and Joe Modise.

Meetings were held with the commanders, but JB Marks also made a point of talking with the rank and file. He wanted to know when and where things had started going wrong. We felt comfortable with him: he was easy-going and approachable.

After two days of these talks an assembly was called. Oliver Tambo stood up to address us, and what he said took us completely by surprise. He did not mention any of the issues that had resulted in the so-called mutiny — the poor conditions in the camp, the low morale and the frustration at being kept in limbo. Instead, he launched a scathing attack on the group that had taken the truck. He said a panel of judges would try the group for mutiny.

He added that what had happened was a serious crime against the people of South Africa and could not go unpunished. Tambo concluded that he had other important business to attend to and was leaving with the rest of the leadership for Dar es Salaam.

On the morning of the trial we were marched into the hall. There were more than 400 of us in Kongwa then and we crammed into every available space, leaving room at the front where there was a table and four chairs for the panel of judges.

With the exception of Joe Modise, who took the chair, [all the judges] were isiXhosa speakers from the Cape: Chris Hani, “Paul Peterson”, Jack Gatiep and “Zola Zembe”. Modise, in his opening statement, repeated Tambo’s words, but stressed that the assembled comrades would be given the opportunity to have their say. So began what looked like the beginnings of a tragi-comedy as apparently hand-picked members, particularly from the Cape, were called on to make contributions. In each case these comrades expressed outrage and demanded the death penalty, suggesting the “mutineers” be either shot or hanged.

During the lunch break a group of us decided that we had to make our voices heard. We could not allow what was a show trial choreographed by Joe Modise to go unchallenged.

When we reassembled, one speaker after another stood up to state that what the Natal group had done was to highlight not only the frustration we all felt, but also the many broken promises of the leadership. The deterioration in the health of a number of comrades also featured prominently. Comrades pointed out that they had felt for a long time that it was better to fight and die in South Africa than to rot in a country thousands of miles away.

Even those speakers who conceded that the manner in which the protest had been carried out was not right noted that they saw no other option because there was no access to leaders, who rarely appeared.

Two and a half hours later the panel retired to offices to consider the evidence. We were surprised at the leniency when the sentence was announced: the accused were effectively confined to barracks – confined within the perimeter of the camp – for two weeks. Morale seemed to soar and I think we all thought things were about to change gear and we would be heading south to start the liberation war.

It was not to be.

A week after the trial, at around ten in the morning, I was sitting in my tent when I heard shouts. As I stepped out of the tent flap I saw about five groups, each comprising about three or four men, brandishing sticks and knives, running from tent to tent and attacking other comrades. I was joined by Omar and “Mntungwa” and we were moving away from the area when we were accosted by comrades with knives and sticks.

The attack was merciless and all I remember was blocking everything they threw at us with my arms.

I was bleeding from my head and nose where the sticks had landed and there was a stab wound in my hand, the result of a blocked knife attack. Victor helped me to the clinic. “Mntungwa” was being carried, bleeding heavily as he had been stabbed in a number of places. He was clearly the main target of the attack and was hospitalised. I had 10 stitches to my head and several to my palm.

The next morning Joe Modise returned to a camp riddled with paranoia and fear and heavily armed factions. With his return came the announcement that another tribunal had been set up. And this was the occasion on which I was sentenced to death – and offered a reprieve, but only if I would effectively confirm a similar sentence on good friends and comrades.

Cajee will be at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

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Read an excerpt from The Domestication Of Munachi by Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu (part 2)

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Nigerian author Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu’s new novel is titled The Domestication Of Munachi, and Parrésia Publishers has shared an excerpt from the novel, as well as an audio clip of the author reading the excerpt.

This is part two of the excerpt. You can see part one here.

Find out more about the book and virtual book tour (happening now) here!

Listen to the excerpt:


 

 

Read the excerpt:

Hi, this is Ifesinachi. Thank you for the opportunity to read from my book, The Domestication of Munachi. Today, I would be reading from page 117. Here it goes:
#

NJIDEKA GOT ME thinking about my new lover. After sharing my body in the most intimate way, I was curious to know more about him. I was not sure I was ready yet to know about his family because I was desperate to keep that part of him away from our visits. I had asked about his full name the last time we met.

“Kolade Johnson,” he had replied with amusement dancing in his eyes. “Did you not look at the card I gave you the first day we met?”
Shamed stained my cheeks. I had looked at the card just once—the day I returned his call—and I had not even taken time to memorise his full name.

This weekend, as I watched him stroll naked to the bathroom, I resisted the urge to lean over and rummage through his things for any other information that I could tie to him. His perfume, rich like the smell in the air after rain kissed hot earth, teased my nostrils.

We were in the same hotel we had been the last time and it occurred to me that this may be his lovers’ nest where he took all the women he claimed as mistresses. The thought angered me but humbled me as I thought of what this life could mean for me.

Few minutes later, he returned and slipped into bed beside me. He nuzzled an ear and I giggled as his goatee brushed my cheek.

“What are you thinking, sweetheart?”

“Nothing.”

“That was too quick a reply. You know what I am thinking?”

“No.”

“I am thinking we should spend the whole day together since I don’t really have anywhere to go.” He gently pushed me up. “I got you something.”

A ripple of excitement churned through my belly as he bent over and retrieved something from the drawer beside him. He held open a little box. It held the most beautiful ear rings I had ever seen or owned in my life. Tiny gold lights twinkled in the seductive balls dangling from slender stems attached to hooks.

“Thank you sir,” I gushed and threw myself at him.

I felt – rather than hear – him chuckle before he gently pushed me away. “I gave Dotun some money to pay into your account. It should reflect by Monday.”

I was so excited that I blurted without thinking, “Your wife must be the luckiest woman in the world. You are so generous.”

A tense minute followed my response after which he stood up and started putting on his clothes in that slow, calculated manner of his. My last sentence hung heavy in the air. Forbidden.

“Where are you going?” Panic coated my voice.

“I have decided that I need to go home after all,” he simply said. “The driver will return to pick you up. It’s best you get ready.”

“KJ … I’m sorry.” Tears burned hot behind my eyes.

He gave me a wry smile. “You are young and there are lots of things you have to learn which I am ready to be patient for. But one thing you need to learn quickly is separating realities, my dear, because I find it difficult handling two realities at the same time. That’s why I am with you now. For this moment. Now. Here.”

He leaned over and planted a quick kiss on my cheek. His lips were cold. “For now, this reality is over,” he said quietly and left without looking back. His words felt like the caress of a feather across my cheeks.

It was what I hated most about him. He never looked back.

#
Thank you so much for this opportunity. I really hope that you go out there and get the book, ‘The domestication of Munachi’. I hope that I get the opportunity to speak with you again.

Once again this is the author, Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu. Thank you.


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Read an excerpt from The Domestication Of Munachi by Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu (part 1)

nullnull

 
Nigerian author Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu’s new novel is titled The Domestication Of Munachi, and Parrésia Publishers has shared an excerpt from the novel, as well as an audio clip of the author reading the excerpt.

This is part one of the excerpt. You can see part two here.

Find out more about the book and virtual book tour (happening now) here!

Listen to the excerpt:


 

 

Read the excerpt:

Hello, my name is Ifesinachi. Thank you so much for this opportunity of reading from my book, The Domestication of Munachi. I will go straight into the book and read from page 15. Here it goes:
#

The first sign of uneasiness Mama Adanna felt on the day her second child was to be given away in marriage was when she heard the loud bickering of young women inside the house. It was normal, she told herself. People always quarrelled on big occasions. When her first daughter Adanna got married, there had even been a fight between the Umuada, who were highly respected as the daughters of every Igbo family, and her own family members. The Umuada had rejected the brand of soft drinks presented to them, insisting that they wanted Malts or they would tear the ceremony apart.

This was different. Young women did not lose themselves and shout at the top of their voices like animals. They knew suitors lounged around, watching, assessing, deciding if one of them would be suitable as a wife, and these men were connected to the influential Odiegwu family, sons who had relocated abroad and had made lots of money to throw around, seeking wives they would fly overseas with.

Abandoning the pot of thick egusi soup on the fire, she marched into the house. Behind her, one of the women called out that they had to finish on time before the in-laws arrived.

She met one of the aso ebi young girls who were supposed to escort Munachi to her husband’s house. Mama Adanna recognised her as one of the choir members in church.

“Nne m, what is the matter?” she asked the upset girl who deftly avoided her gaze.

“I … I … don’t where Munachi is. She is no … nowhere. We can’t find her anywhere,” she replied in Igbo.

Nowhere? Impossible.

“Have you checked the toilets?” Mama Adanna asked weaving her way through the throng of young ladies, to the nearest bathroom.

She threw it open, almost ripping the door off its hinges.

Nothing stared back at her.

“Adanna! Adanna!”

“Ma.”

Adanna appeared, hanging onto her son, who was asleep on her shoulder.

“Where did you say Munachi went? I thought I told you to look after her.”

Adanna hesitated.

“She left, mummy.” Her voice was quiet, almost a whisper. Left? What did the child mean by ‘she left’?

“What do you mean she left?”

Silence.

“Is it not you I am asking before I break your head?” She advanced towards Adanna who drew back.

“I tried to stop her but she left. She said she was going away but she did not tell me where.” Her voice hung in the air like sodden paper about to disintegrate.

Loud groans and exclamations filled the air. Mama Adanna suddenly felt something she had never felt before. The ground below her shifted and she reached for the wall to steady herself.

Her own child was about to disgrace her in the presence of all these people. The Odiegwus would soon be here.

“You idiot. And it did not occur to you to come and get me, ehn?”

Retracing her steps back to the backyard, she called out, “Ifeanyi! Ejike!”

Two young men hurried to her side. They had been pounding fufu and their naked chests dripped and glistened with sweat.

“Biko, you two should get dressed and go round town. See if you will find Munachi anywhere. Check everywhere, even the parks.”

The two exchanged confused glances and looked back at her. “What are you standing there for?” she barked. “Go and find Munachi. She has disappeared.”

#
Thank you very much for this opportunity once again. I do hope that you go out there and get the book, The Domestication of Munachi. This is Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu. Thank you.


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