New anthology to enlighten girls

03 Oct, 2018 - 00:10 0 Views

The Herald

Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
The three-genre anthology “Passage of Life” (2018) by new writer Tabeth Ruvarashe Manyonga will be officially launched tomorrow at the Batanai Mall in Harare.

The launch includes a discussion and Bookshelf has been invited to be one of the panellists. Well-known author and editor Phillip Kundeni Chidavaenzi, whose desk also saw the manuscript “Passage of Life”, is guest speaker.

The panellists include Noah Mangwarara, a motivational scientist and leadership expert, Mavis Manyonga-Makuwe (author, former teacher and entrepreneur), Geraldine Eve (communications expert and entrepreneur with deep interest in writing), and James Nyamajiwa (motivational author and life coach).

And at first, being a panellist on the day, Bookshelf felt like it would be pre-empting the show to do a review of “Passage of Life” just a day before its official launch but now, after giving it deeper thought, the temptation is irresistible to share a few things about the “insides” of this anthology. And of course, as with any creative work, there will be lots of other different readers’ interpretations.

Sometime last week while quietly enjoying “Passage of Life”, there came in the background a loud thud of a new novel landing in the bookshelf from far lands. The novel, “The Next of Kin” (2018, Reach Publishers) by Zimbabwean writer Olivia Christian Paarche, arrived from UK where the author is based and it being nearly 500-paged, it indeed will require a little more energy and solemn midnight readings before a full review!

“The Next of Kin”, according to the author, is inspired by a well-known story of John Bradburne who used to tend to the lepers in Mutemwa here in Zimbabwe and who was subsequently martyred.

For a while, just to get the feel of this fresh-looking book, I unwillingly left “Passage of Life”, read only the first part of “The Next of Kin” and suddenly I found myself wanting to continue riding the complicated spiritual tide with Angelo and other characters in the book!

Well, we leave the ‘riding the tide’ for someday this month. Back to today’s focus, “Passage of Life” – it is an anthology imbued with a menu of 48 poems, five short stories and a play, with many of the pieces having a deep concern for the teenagers, girls in particular. The young girls in high school or college who shun enlightenment or education learn their life lessons the hardest way. Although the leading characters are female, the boys have some lessons to draw from the stories as well as the poems.

With the way the book is packaged, it was alright to read from the end to beginning, that is, from the end where the short stories and the play are put, then read last the poetry section.

Twenty-six-year-old author Tabeth Manyonga seems to love the vignette form of a short story as reflected in her book. A vignette is defined as a brief but delicately executed sketch, either standing alone or part of a larger work.

Manyonga’s shortest story, “The Love I Thought Good Was Not”, fills in one page only and it has an unnamed, deeply hurt girl narrator who has misleading feelings of love and jumps into a love affair only to realize it’s a “world of sharing” lovers!

The reader can feel the agonies and despair of characters like Shanduko and Ruva in other stories and yet, not forgetting her purpose, the author turns the characters from victims to victors. Shanduko in “Life Is An Uphill Struggle” cares less about education, for she is deceived by her parents’ wealth. Parental guidance lacks in her life also. When her parents die, hell is let loose upon her.

In this story and in the other one “The Bad Side of Culture” we are shown how culture ignores the rights of the girl child. Poor Shanduko is raped by her uncle and ends up homeless after she reports him to the police.

“ . . . Even if he did, he is your husband so he can do whatever he feels like doing with you. Now don’t tell anyone handiti ka?” the aunt tells Shanduko before justice catches up with the rapist.

In the play “Broken Heart” the strange attitude or character of Tamia, the girl who’s chasing after boys, comes out vividly and she learns her lesson in a very humiliating way. Most of the action happens at the boarding school.

Some of Manyonga’s poems are like voices of the main characters in the short stories, now expressing individually their different feelings about people.

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