There are a number of ways ‘Connections’ can be portrayed. I tend to like the offbeat ways.
Highway Queen is Zimbabwean author Virginia Phiri’s third novel, and although it’s fiction, it reads as if it was ripped from the headlines during Ziombabwe’s torturous era of hyperinflation and political madness – it has the resounding ring of truth that will reverberate in your mind long after you stop reading.
Phiri plunges the reader into the life of Sophie Mumba after her husband Steven is retrenched (a euphemism for all the workers who were permanently laid off when the country’s economy went into an uncontrolled free fall), succumbs to depression, and takes to drink. Sophie, like millions of African women before and since, is left to support her two children and ailing mother-in-law.
In unadorned prose, replete with richly textured descriptions of the people and environment during a time of madness, it chronicles Sophie’s own fall from grace, as she finds herself forced into prostitution in her desperate attempt to keep her family together. She faces violence, indifference, and the specter of HIV/AIDS with a sense of futility leavened by an innate sense of dignity and responsibility not shared by many of the men in her life.
Highway Queen is a continuation of her previous works, Desperate and Destiny, and is dedicated to ‘the women who have sacrificed their lives, health and happiness in order to fend for their families and at times communities.’
To most Westerners, and not a few Africans, the scenes in this book will be disturbing. They paint a picture of the continent that is often overlooked. But, for those who want a better understanding of the travails of a continent that has more than its share of the world’s problems, and a look at how some cope with those travails, this is recommended reading.
Virginia Phiri is a noted Zimbabwean author who is little known on this side of the Atlantic. She writes often about the problems faced by marginalized people in her native Zimbabwe. In Desperate, she takes on the issue of prostitution, and how and why women end up selling their bodies to strangers.
In a series of fictional narratives, Phiri paints evocative, and dark pictures of women such as Chido and Nhamo, who share one condition – desperation – that drives them to the fateful decision.
Phiri tells us in her preface to the book that while operating as a freedom fighter during Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence, her life was saved by a group of prostitutes who she never had the chance to thank. Desperate is her tribute to them and a plea to the world to think about how it treats women and how this treatment can push them down this desperate path.
This is one of Phiri’s first ventures in to e-Book publishing, so there are some formatting issues with the Kindle version. This does not, though, take anything away from her strong writing, as she gives voice to the voiceless. While Desperate does not quite rise to the level of her premier work, Highway Queen, it is nonetheless a book worth reading if you want to have a better understanding of life in a culture that is as alien as the dark side of the moon and to be introduced to an author who I predict will make as much impact in America as she already does in Zimbabwe.
Formatting issues aside, I give this book a solid four stars.
I’m participating in the online<a href=”http://www.LetsBeWild.com” target=”_blank”>adventure travel and photography magazine</a> LetsBeWild.com’s <a href=”http://www.letsbewild.com/photo-challenge/” target=”_blank”> Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggers</a>This week’s Challenge is: <a href=”http://www.letsbewild.com/photo-challenge/wild-weekly-photo-challenge-20-sunrise/” target=”_blank”>Sunrise, so get up early this week and take some shots of the sky!
Check out this week’s fun foto challenge at this link. Fire is one of the five Chinese elements, and, without it life couldn’t exist. Here are my interpretations of fire; and, notice that sometimes it’s implied rather than specified.
In just a few hours the year 2012 will be fodder for historians. We’ll then have to hunker down and begin the effort of facing 2013, and whatever the new year has in store for us.
I’ve spent most of the morning wrestling with what to write in my final 2012 blog. Should I rehash the momentous events of the year about to pass? Were there, in fact, even any momentous events?
We had a historic election. The nation’s first black president won reelection; not with an overwhelming mandate, but with a comfortable enough margin of victory to make it more than a mere fluke. But, he’s still faced with an implacably hostile House of Representatives; populated with enough hard core Tea Party activists to make getting rational legislation passed a task not to be envied, and a Senate that has a minority that will, from the difficulty we seen in getting a sane fiscal policy passed, continue to pose obstacles. Horrific acts of mindless violence, such as the slaughter of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, were a blot on us as a nation, and the response of the gun nuts just made it worse.
We saw 12/12/12 pass without notice, and the so-called Mayan Calendar Apocalypse predicted for December 21, 2012 was a non event.
Should I, instead, focus on what we could or should be doing for the coming year? Will it be better or worse? That would, unfortunately, involve making predictions; and, predicting is something I’ve never been good at. Life has a way of making fools out of those who would have the arrogance to do such a thing.
I don’t even plan to make any New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t done that for as long as I can remember. Making promises to myself for one day out of the year always struck me as a useless exercise. I’d much rather resolve every day to do better than I did the day before. You might say that makes me sound like a supremely self-centered person, and you’d be right. I am self-centered. The emphasis here is on ‘centered.’ Not in an egotistical sense, although I recognize that there’s a large element of egoism inherent in this philosophy, but, just the acceptance that it’s only my own actions and thoughts that I have any control over.
So, for me, 2013 will just be 2012 continued; and, hopefully bettered. That’s a resolution I plan to make each day. I will continue to try and write 1,000 words a day – actually, since I retired from government service in September I’ve managed to do three times that, so maybe in 2013 I’ll up my game and shoot for 3,000. I started working on improving my Spanish language skills; for no specific reason, it just seemed like an interesting thing to do. I began to get to know my new granddaughter, Samantha. Being in Zimbabwe for most of the first year of her life, I was a stranger to her at her first birthday party. I hope that she and I will become friends in 2013. She’s such a smart kid; reminding me a lot of myself as a child. And, I recognize that she, and all the other children, are the world’s future, so I have a responsibility to help her achieve her dreams – or at least get her on the road to doing that.
Maybe, in 2013, I’ll try and stretch my writing wings; maybe take a stab at adding to the genres I dabble in. I have a long list of to-do writing projects, so the year will be busy.
I’m rambling, I know, but, that’s the way I feel at this moment. I just ramble until I stumble across something that interests me. Always have and I always will. So, I bid a fond farewell to 2012 and a hearty welcome to 2013. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I think the journey will be fascinating. I hope all of you will come along with me.
This week, Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is a great one; the best photos of 2012 of people and animals. Go here for a look. In the meantime, here are some of the photos of people and animals I did in 2012 while living in Zimbabwe and after returning home to Maryland.