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Brilliance of Hope, anthology of short stories

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BRILLIANCE OF HOPE - AN ANTHOLOGY OF REFLECTIONS, REFRACTIONS & VIBRATIONS OF THE ZIMBABWEAN DISPERSION

41 short stories by 15 Zimbabwean writers!

Intended to record a crucial element of African history in the making, this short story anthology depicts experiences of the Zimbabwean diaspora through perspectives of writers based in Australia, Dubai, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe. The fictional and autobiographical narratives herein collectively reflect on the resilience and hope intrinsic to the Zimbabwean dispersion. Entangled in a common quandary, these writers echo the particulars of what it means to be displaced as a first generation immigrant:

Tah

Rudo D M Manyere

Sibonginkosi Christabel Netha

Samuel Chamboko

Priscilla Shumba

Tariro Ndoro

Brain Garusa

Tinashe Junias Chipenyu

Ivainashe Earnest Nyamutsamba

A K Mwanyekondo

James Wanangwa Kajumi Kuwali

Nobuhle N Nyoni

Flavian Farainashe Makovere

Lazarus Panashe Nyagwambo

Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure


Trim Size: 15.24 x 2.08 x 22.86cm
Interior Colour and Paper: Black & White / Creme
Binding: Paperback - Perfect Bound
Cover Finish: Matte
Page Count: 430
Print ISBN: 978-1914287077
Publisher: Carnelian Heart Publishing Ltd (6 September 2021)

EDITORS' NOTE:

Introduction

As part of my advocacy for the welfare of immigrants, I compiled and edited this anthology of short stories to provide a platform where a crucial element of Zimbabwean history could be recorded. This is also an opportunity for the contributors to amplify their voices globally.

This project, named “Diamond”, is inspired by a gemstone known for its resilience under pressure, and its brilliance based on its ability to reflect light. When light enters a diamond, it is refracted by the diamond's internal angles, causing the sparkle diamonds are known for. This sparkle represents hope. When two or more diamonds are placed together, a superposition called entanglement, they vibrate at a low frequency only detectable by laser. Spiritually, a diamond represents clarity, promise and possibility. These characteristics of a diamond have been used as puns to name this anthology, BRILLIANCE OF HOPE: Reflections, Refractions and Vibrations of the Zimbabwean dispersion.

With contributing writers based in Australia, Dubai, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe, the fictional and autobiographical stories herein collectively reflect light on perspectives of the resilience and hope intrinsic to the Zimbabwean dispersion. I find it fascinating that the voices in this anthology not only complement one another, but they seem to complete each other’s stories, with one picking up from where the other left, thereby magnifying the concept of universal oneness. In African philosophy, this is referred to as UBUNTU – I am, because you are. Together, the contributors are entangled in a common quandary and are vibrating the particulars of what it means to be displaced as first generation immigrants.

I am excited that I contributed to this anthology. For this reason, I asked Innocent Whande to assist me with proofreading and drafting an overview of each narrative. Innocent not only holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing & Publishing, but he is a Zimbabwean based in the United Kingdom and has, like the contributing writers, experienced first-hand the joys and sorrows of being an immigrant. I am honoured and eternally grateful that he agreed to support me on this project.

Enjoy the book!

by Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure


An overview of the stories...


Tah:

'Elusive Dignity', a well-written account that paints an authentic picture of the journey into the diaspora. Simba’s experience shines light on the xenophobia and racism that Zimbabweans and other immigrants from across Africa face in South Africa. The young man is fortunate to have a friend, TC, who sets him up with a job as a waiter at the restaurant he works for. Simba holds his tongue even when subjected to abuse from colleagues and customers alike, because he has no papers. In true Zimbabwean spirit, he stays resilient and keeps his head down. His friendship with TC is the glue that holds them together through the trials and tribulations of being a foreigner in South Africa.

'Finding Her Voice' chronicles an enlightening perspective on the concerns of women in South Africa. The story starts off with a radio interview transcript before getting into the backstory of Mandy who faces a barrage of comments from drivers of the lift service she uses to commute. Upon telling her brother of her ordeal, she sets out to do a short animation, calling out men on their entitlement, and it goes viral on social media. The complicity of other women who enable harassment and normalise the gross behaviour of men is highlighted in Shannon, Mandy’s cousin. A glimmer of hope through the harassment is Simbarashe, the only driver Mandy recalls treating her with dignity whenever she got a lift from him.

'Dawn' tells a heart-warming and inspiring story. Simba meets Mandy by chance at a park. They find familiarity through the struggles of being foreigners in South Africa. Mandy finds a sympathetic ear in Simba who validates her worries that she indeed was harassed and isn’t overreacting.
After the writer takes you through the life of Simba seamlessly in Elusive Dignity, to Mandy’s story in Finding her voice, he ends with the two characters connecting in Dawn. This is a tale about friendship, which promises to blossom into deeper intimacy.


Rudo D M Manyere:

'Kurauone' is an enthralling tale of unrequited love and a wasted life. Kurauone and Susu are former lovers reunited by the death of Kola, after many years of separation. Kola is Susu’s brother and Kura’s best friend. The captivating imagery of their reunion hooks the reader in, to the very last word. How fleeting time really is. Sparks of their love still linger and their bond is further moulded by the grief they are experiencing for the departed Kola. Will they pick up from where they left?

'3:15 AM', a chilling story laced with several important life lessons - you do not need to compete with anyone in life, and you are enough as you are. A rivalry between cousins shows how much comparison can steal your joy and cultivate jealousy and resentment in families. A manifestation of guilt from an accident that led to her cousin’s death makes the narrator experience her late cousin’s ghost. A stern reminder that there is no escaping the past.

'Zadzisai' is a well-presented narrative of a desperate mother on a mission to be reunited with her daughter. It is the introduction to an upcoming novel, where a child pregnancy and family politics force Zadzisai’s parents to give their daughter’s new-born child up for adoption in fear of bringing shame on their family. The full story promises to be a page turner and a must-not-miss.


Sibonginkosi Christabel Netha:

'The Sky', a beautifully crafted story about a romantic navigating young adulthood in the mean streets of Johannesburg. While going through mundane tasks in the butchery managed by his uncle, Bongani runs after a thief who has stolen a wallet. When he catches up with the thief, he has already been seized and is being beaten up. As Bongani retreats, he bumps into a familiar face. The scenes are vividly painted in a soothing poetic tone, keeping you hooked from the first to the last word, whilst highlighting pertinent problems that many immigrants will relate to.

'Finding Luba' tells a great story layered with societal issues and the effects of intergenerational family trauma. Maria’s quest is to find her sister who ran away from home and to see her family reunited. After talking to her mother, she uncovers a dark family secret, one that once let out cannot be put back into the box. Her path leads to her father who had long abandoned his family for South Africa after finding out the truth.

'The Mouth of the Shark', a heart-wrenching story uniquely written from the perspective of a child who moves to South Africa with her mother and brother, with her whole life in a backpack. Her mother works tirelessly to make ends meet. The young girl feels out of place at her new school, but makes friends who she can relate with and this ameliorates her anxiety. The theme of identity crisis is well explored in this forlorn piece that chronicles the fact that children too leave Zimbabwe with as much hope as the adults, only to find that the pastures are not necessarily greener; what the author portrays as an unappeasable hunger which is not for food.


Samuel Chamboko:

'Journey From Without', a fantastic coming of age novelette that oozes the naivety of youth, layered with pertinent issues affecting Zimbabweans who leave for the diaspora. Three friends embark on a journey to South Africa with just the clothes on their backs and very little money, relying on the kindness of strangers on their journey to a better life. The writing style is very transportive and the scenery well captured through many lively characters and vivid descriptions of Karanga customs. The trials and tribulations of living in a foreign land are accurately illuminated, including the stern realisation that the grass is only ever greener after back breaking work.

'Mabvuku to Marylebone' is a captivating story of a young man who moves to the UK to help provide for his siblings and aging grandmother. He is taken advantage of by the relatives that help him to relocate before deciding to venture on his own. He juggles studying and work, because he must send money back home in compliance with black tax. A perfect illustration that burdens often shouldered by older siblings mean they end up living for others. This story showcases true Zimbabwean resolve - resilience and grit.


Priscilla Shumba:

'What Do They See?' is an excellent narrative about an immigrant coming to terms with and owning their piece of society. The story highlights how blacks typically blend into the background to avoid causing discomfort to others. The anecdote examines how black people often get seen for being black before being seen for who they are. This social reconnoitre explores the leitmotifs of representation and empowerment to occupy spaces without shying away. The intersectionality of being a black, African, Christian, feminist, mother is beautifully underlined in this piece.

'There’s Nothing for You Here' is a heart-wrenching account depicting the loneliness and identity crisis often experienced by many immigrants living alone. Being homesick, but never being able to go back because there is nothing to go back to. Being misunderstood and feeling out of place in a foreign land. The story offers an insight into trials that come with displacement, such as untimely deportation of loved ones and the complexity of cross-border family relationships. Allusion and beautiful imagery run throughout the narrative, which ends on a hopeful note.

'We Were All Broken' aptly explores the inevitable break-up of families due to dispersion. The story is told through the perspectives of a father, mother and daughter in very touching internal monologues, highlighting what the family has lost through miscommunication. A declining economy back home and toxic masculinity within a patriarchal society all contribute to the tension which eventually results in the demise of a family unit.


Tariro Ndoro:

'Stasis', a brilliant narrative depicting the plight of foreign black women in a dystopian future South Africa. Chiedza valiantly faces the trials of adulthood - feeling under pressure to progress swiftly, comply with black tax whilst putting on a brave face. Racism, sexism and harassment in the workplace are amongst her tribulations. The imagery and humour employed by the author make the distressing themes in the story more palatable. Chiedza’s enlightenment at the end of the story is a breath of fresh air.

'La Duma 32/12', a well presented allegory exploring the dissonance resulting from the quandary of living in South Africa as a foreigner. The death of a friend exacerbates the narrator’s numbness - everything happening around her makes her feel conflicted about where she belongs. The piece is presented in unique form, like a dictionary in draft format, attempting to define what dissonance is for a Zimbabwean living in South Africa. Multiple "voices" are at play - the events on the ground, news headlines, social media posts, the author’s own views - all are duly considered, to deliver a clear message - South Africa is an unsafe place to live. It ends with quite a miserable choice to have to make for the narrator – to stay in South Africa and risk death, or to go back to Zimbabwe and risk poverty.

'Abishai' tells an ingenious, perceptible tale of an expectant family whose father figure leaves the country for better opportunities, only for the deadbeat man to get lured into a long-term extramarital affair and return home with nothing but the clothes on his back. Not everyone is strong or committed enough to fulfil the purpose of dispersion, and we see that in Abishai when he sinks to the lowest depths. The man cannot even remember the name of his own daughter when he returns. We witness a stoic mother’s fight for survival for her children through tough times. The story is expertly narrated and seasoned with just the right amount of humour to lighten the heavy subject matter addressed.


Brain Garusa:

'Kufakunesu', a reflective tale confronting death and poverty in the declining Zimbabwean economy. An escape to a foreign land which is mishandled, leads to the untimely death of a young man with potential. Repetition is temperately employed as a rhetorical device to deepen the meaning of the message, increase memorability and enhance the rhythm of the narrative. The use of imagery and metaphors in this story will have you thinking, “what’s in a name?” Was the name Kufakunesu (death is with us) just the narrator’s excuse to live recklessly so that he could fulfil the prophecy he thought was embedded in his name? The freedom of being away from home results in a tragic end to the story.

'When Mother Cries', a harrowing story of a grieving son who loses their mother to a gruesome ordeal. Being left with no one to rely on, he finds comfort in conversations with his late mother in dreams. The use of letters written from the mother’s perspective and his replies are an excellent coping mechanism. A deep, sad and relatable story which not only confronts death, but manages to layer problematic societal issues aggravated by the dispersion.


Tinashe Junias Chipenyu:

'Restless Stalker' tells a delightfully complex tale, layered with pertinent issues affecting immigrants. The thriller-like opening to the story is gripping and vivid descriptions are used throughout the story. The themes of black tax and its challenges, the shame of failure to provide sustenance for your family back home, inertia and depression, amongst others, are creatively weaved into this narrative. The evolution of the main character, Munacho, is explored and his epiphany at the end is something many Africans are coming to terms with slowly, as they begin to realise that they may never return home.

'The Throes', a heartrending account of Kudakwashe, a young soul who seems to be paying for her parents’ mistakes. A well-presented example of what might happen when parents leave their children for better opportunities in the diaspora but fail to maintain an emotional connection with them. It is a story of abandonment – a child grows up with no one to turn to, struggles with mental health issues and ends up a victim of abuse.

'Different Shades of Brown', a well presented chronicle merging the lives of three Zimbabwean women from completely different walks of life and the struggles they are facing in South Africa. We meet Laurah whose husband left her for a local South African woman and faces a tumultuous passage to picking herself up. Musawenkosi faces losing her job if her VISA is not renewed and she suffers various forms of discrimination at work. Anesu is an overworked, underpaid hairdresser. The three women eventually meet in a church led by a pastor with a dark side. The pockets of humour make this story an easy, enjoyable read.


Ivainashe Earnest Nyamutsamba:

'An Ode To My Aching Heart', a heart-breaking story of a Zimbabwean woman who has resorted to selling her body to make ends meet in South Africa. She is taken in by a den mother who on the surface seems to care for her, but is only using her as an object to satisfy men. She gets infected with HIV while trying to make ends meet. A tragic end to a story of hope, delivered in an inimitable poetic style of writing.

'Yours Truly I Am Gone', a touching account of some of the most bizarre stories we hear coming out of the diaspora. The abuse of men, hardships of staying with relatives that make you feel unwelcome, are some of the themes explored in this quirkily-written narrative. This story is a harrowing emotional thriller presented in an amalgam of soliloquies and turbulent streams of consciousness – the author’s way of providing a more intimate portrayal of his subjects.

'A Passage Through the Tumultuous, Boisterous Sea' is autobiographical and heart wrenching – a story that many immigrants who have studied abroad will relate to. The narrative illuminates the mind of a student working on his future in a foreign land. The pressure of studying whilst destitute highlights the harsh reality that no one is coming to your rescue and only you can save yourself. The author invites you to take a peek inside his mind through employment of abstract internal monologue.


A K Mwanyekondo:

'The Interview' is a riveting, fast-paced read in dialogue format. The author’s playfulness with form adds a layer of complexity to this story, for instance employing dashes in place of inverted commas to signal discourse between the characters – a style we witness throughout his stories in this anthology. Musa is a Zimbabwean doing well in Rwanda, to the frustration of his gateman Jon Paolo – a local who is shamed by his friends for being a foreigner’s glorified door opener. Musa’s life at home is strained, but the estrangement of his wife remains a mystery to him. Could the tragic end of this story be the missing piece to his puzzle?

'These Were the Voices' presents an abstract, heavily layered, multidimensional story about resilience and hope. Beautifully crafted poetic prose, laced with patterns through rhythm, imagery and metaphors throughout. Grace in part (i) is an illegal immigrant who endures a hellish job at a publishing house in Rwanda. Anesu Mufakose in part (ii), another illegal who left Zimbabwe due to push factors including the declining economy, political upheaval and drought, against his mother’s wishes, only to find himself living in squalor in a home that feels like a coffin. He is overworked in a restaurant where he feels secluded. Holy, Grace’s father whom we only meet once in part (iii) is a man who performed atrocities on his own daughter in the name of religion – deeds that shed some light on Grace’s mental state. In the end, two of the characters, eking out a survival in a foreign land, are united (perhaps by fate) in a bizarre grand finale which one could only hope leads them to inner peace.

'Untitled', a heart-shredding story that explores the life of a mixed-race woman torn apart by trauma - a trauma that doesn’t have a name, but continues to crush her to a point where she is confronted by homelessness. There are many nameless things Martha has to endure, but with very little success, including being abandoned by her parents and everyone she is fond of. The plight of being foreign, feeling like she does not belong, not being accepted by her own (white) mother, suffering in silence and sticking to being a wallflower to avoid causing trouble. The themes of identity crisis, death, spirituality, loveless interracial relationships and hope, amongst others, are explored in a relatable plot. The author skilfully brings the diaspora back to Zimbabwe through Martha and weaves in some pertinent issues affecting Zimbabweans - the declining economy, corruption, to name but a few.


James Wanangwa Kajumi Kuwali:

'The Republican' gives a mesmeric glimpse into the life experience of a black man in an upper class milieu - feeling out of place and treated like an outsider even when fully qualified to be there. The language employed is as opulent as the characters, with great use of poetic prose in some parts, quirkily laced with alliteration and assonance. Best of all, the wit throughout tones down the seriousness of the conflicts within this story. The themes of racism, unconscious biases, direct and indirect discrimination, the yearning to return home, are appositely explored by the author.

'Leaving Las Vegas' tells the story of a young government aide travelling abroad with the country’s leadership. An unplanned detour amidst the frenetic pace of international diplomacy presents a moment of reckoning with demons, both personal and national. Humour and rich language build suspense towards a 'searing' end in this well thought out narrative.


Nobuhle N Nyoni:

'Just Ask for Help!' is a touching autobiography detailing the relocation from Zimbabwe to South Africa to make a life for oneself. The trials that come with trying to do things alone, how a helping hand can spur you on and change your life for the better, are some of the messages in this story. It is harder to ask for help when you are away from home, for so many reasons – but mostly the fear of being mocked and judged. Because everyone seems to be competing against one another, people in the diaspora live in isolation a lot more than they do back home. A good read which carries important life lessons that many will relate to.

'What It Means to Be a Foreigner in South Africa' journals the hardships the author faces as a foreigner in South Africa. From the meagre pay to xenophobia, wishing she could go back home, but remaining in the dire situation across the border - because only suffering and heartache await in Zimbabwe. This is an authentically delivered account that paints a picture of what life is like for a lot of Zimbabweans in South Africa - distressing.

'It’s Not Always the Final Destination' inspires learning the importance of being yourself and not living according to other people’s standards. Showing yourself the love and attention you truly deserve ultimately starts with you. This is a great essay detailing how healing from childhood trauma can emancipate you mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially. It is a piece that will hopefully help some readers to find it within themselves to seek that sort of freedom in different areas of their lives. Acknowledging one’s troubled past is one thing that needs confronting in order for any progress to manifest for anybody who comes from a traumatised place.



Flavian Farainashe Makovere:

'Power' is an intriguing and thrilling story about a political asylum seeker. Pastor Mavhura, a former soldier in the liberation struggle is now seen as an enemy of the state because he is calling out their shortcomings. It gets him abducted and tortured to spill information on who is sponsoring his agenda. The collocation of dislocation to Mozambique during pre-colonial Zimbabwe vis-a-vis running away to South Africa in post-colonial Zimbabwe is an exceptional detail within a story where the intrinsic connection between politics and religion is well presented.

'Painted Feelings', a beautifully written love story layered with relatable issues affecting Zimbabweans and other nationalities living in the diaspora. It highlights an evolution of Africans breaking through generational barriers - the use of therapy, for instance, is not usually considered worthwhile back home. Exploration of the Gukurahundi genocide is necessary and intriguing - an issue that continues to divide Zimbabweans. A shocking revelation presents a conflict that might make or break a young couple’s relationship as they edge closer to their wedding.

'My Father’s Shoes' explores in multiple layers the burdens of following in your parents’ footsteps. The unfortunate dance with depression brings out superstitious views of bad spirits and their consequential power. This is a poetically presented tale of intergenerational trauma common in African families. The reluctance to address mental health issues, the habitual passing on of blame to things beyond our control. The imagery is exceptional and the story will resonate with many immigrants.



Lazarus Panashe Ivan Nyagwambo:

'Vessel for Misery' narrates a story about resilience. False promises of a scholarship lead to a life of hardship in Cyprus for Luke where he engages in back-breaking work for inadequate pay. The vivid imagery and detailed descriptions employed by the author allow the reader to travel with Luke through a rough day at and after work, and his thought processes in between. Many themes are fittingly explored – harassment at work, sexual assault of men, the economic crisis in Zimbabwe. In this heavy and overwhelming story, an “attack” ensues, but despite the trauma, Luke will get up tomorrow to face another day.

'This Game for Two' involves Prosper, a husband who goes abroad to search for greener pastures for his family, leaving his wife at the mercy of his mother and two sisters who feel entitled to his wealth. The turmoil of family politics as they rely on him as their breadwinner while disregarding his wife, is expressed through hilarious dialogue. The author addresses the serious themes of family separation resulting from the dispersion, the ever-suffocating tentacles of the patriarchy, with women being unkind to one another as a means to feed the system, amongst others. Emotions are tangible throughout, and a feasible shift at the end of this great story leaves the reader with a glimmer of hope.

'A Home Shaped Hole' is an autobiographical account exploring the reasons that might drive one to return home, having spent years abroad. Even after attaining a great education with employment opportunities on the horizon, the narrator opts to return home, because there is no place like it. This account, laced with humour in Zimbabwean expressions, is well-written and relatable. More importantly, the story could be viewed as a reminder to those struggling in the diaspora - that they could always go back home.


Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure:

'Barcode', a captivating thriller highlighting the harsh truths of being an illegal immigrant in the UK. Living under his brother’s roof, Kumbi is at the mercy of his demanding sister-in-law Benhilda who knit-picks at everything he does. A regular work trip leads to him spending time in a hell that is a detention centre where he experiences trauma while awaiting deportation. Upon arrival in Zimbabwe, he is met by an awkward greeting by his own children and wife. To make matters worse, his childhood best friend seems to have replaced him. Great use of imagery and vivid descriptions transport you to the scenes at hand.

'Tariro' is a wonderful piece of social commentary presented as a novelette. The urgency created by Tariro’s dilemma invites the reader’s curiosity to how it is resolved. Hardships and dilemmas alongside the themes of inequality, toxic religiosity, harassment and the bleakness of the patriarchal system, amongst others, are masterfully weaved into a well thought out narrative. The pacing of the story is aided by allocating each character a different day in the week, and through the resilience of Tariro as she takes each day as it comes. The diversity of characters seems to echo the message that we are living in a global village. Should we perhaps begin to feel at home wherever we are? This is a narrative which celebrates the brilliance of hope and aptly provides closure to this anthology.


***


As advocates for mental health we feel obliged to include a trigger warning for this anthology:

Some stories in the collection contain themes of suicide, alcoholism & drug dependency, depression and abuse. If you are affected by the issues in these stories, please visit any of the following charity websites for help, or search in Google for similar charities local to your jurisdiction.

Suicide - https://www.samaritans.org
Abuse, Anxiety, Bullying, Depression, Loneliness, Self-harm, suicide - https://giveusashout.org
Suicide and other mental health challenges - https://www.thecalmzone.net
Mental health issues - https://www.mind.org.uk


By Innocent Whande and
Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure



*****Brilliance of Hope is also available to buy from all reputable online retail outlets*****

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Very quick delivery. I cannot wait for part 2 of the series.

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