|Uganda honours Cheru-Mpambawashe|
|Wednesday, 08 August 2012 00:00|
A former Lifestyle Editor of the Herald, Cheru-Mpambawashe said she was humbled by her selection.
“Needless to say I feel excited and am looking forward to this great opportunity for the development of my writing career.”
Hilda Twongyeirwe, co-ordinator of the Uganda Women Writers’ Association, which is organising the residency and publishing the 12 stories, said stories were judged without names of the authors obviating the possibility of canvassing.
“There are some applicants, however, who were not taken on not because their entries were not good but because we tried to create balance between the new and the experienced writers,” Twongyeirwe explained.
The 12 selected stories and the country from which the submissions originated are: “Guilty Association” (Cameroon); “The Day Dalilah Left Ghana” (Ghana); “Simsim Halwa” (Kenya); “Cat’s Cradle” (Nigeria); “Narrative Of Emily Louw” (South Africa); “There’s Nothing To See Here” (Uganda); “Ohemba” (Uganda); “The Sun Bared Its Biceps” (Uganda); “Little Differences” (Uganda); “Unemployment” (Uganda); “Tighten Your Belts” (Zambia); and “My Fault” (Zimbabwe).
The story “My Fault” by Cheru-Mpambawashe pits modernity against patriarchy and traditionalism. In the story, a young modern educated housewife turns to her mother after being emotionally and physically abused by her husband, Ray.
Being a traditionalist, her mother suggests that her abused daughter should look the other way and pretend that she does not see her husband’s philandering.
It is “her fault” when she invites the wrath of her husband when she questions him about his late homecoming or when she confronts him after discovering that not only is he having an extra-marital affair, but also bore a child with his girlfriend.
Ray, being a less enlightened husband about women’s rights and equality of partners in a relationship/union, heaps the blame on his hapless wife after he has thrashed her in a clear case of domestic violence.
Even her best friend, Sarah, thinks that she is to blame for poking her nose into her husband’s extra-marital affairs.
So blaming her misfortunes on herself becomes a form of coping mechanism.
But freedom for her comes with the realisation that it is her fault that she let her spouse abuse her to such an extent, especially given that she is a more enlightened person and therefore supposedly more informed about her rights. It is also her fault that she did not insist on a civil marriage because when Ray dies the “small house” takes everything and wife number one is left out in the cold.
This is a story that will find resonance across the continent.
Cheru-Mpambawashe trained as a secondary school teacher and majored in English and Portuguese. She helped introduce a college creative writers’ magazine.
In 2002 she joined the Budding Writers’ Association of Zimbabwe and wrote several short stories. In 2011 Diaspora published her first book, “Chivi Sunsets”, which is a collection of short stories. She is now a member of Zimbabwe Writers’ Association and is currently working on two novels — one aimed at youths and the other one is on marriage and the African woman.
A married mother of three, Cheru-Mpambawashe has worked in the media as a columnist as well as planning and lifestyle editor.
She works as marketing and communications manager for a professional woman’s networking forum. — Panorama Magazine/ Entertainment Reporter.