The author spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about her latest book These Bones Will Rise Again.
Hi Panashe, thanks for talking to Love London Love Culture. What made you want to write These Bones Will Rise Again? The short answer is that I was commissioned to write a response to Zimbabwe’s coup not a coup. The long answer is that I had recently lost my grandmother whom I had long wanted to write about so I thought I would use this moment of unprecedented national disruption as a way to reflect on a moment of personal loss, and vice versa.
Was it difficult to put the book together? Incredibly so. It demanded a lot from me emotionally, intellectually and physically. This was especially so because of the short turn around time. I had less than six months to write this manuscript, so that placed a lot of pressure on me. My editor was extremely tough, which was not always great to experience in the moment. At the same time, I also began a karate class with an extremely tough trainer. It was a great parallel because both pushed me and demanded the best of me, and I am totally appreciative of in the end.
Given everything you know about Zimbabwe – what do you personally think the future of Zimbabwe looks like? I don’t profess to throw bones or hold a crystal ball. Especially, given the last nine months where no one could have predicted the ouster of Robert Mugabe or the death of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the largest opposition movement, we will all be circumspect about our political predictions. What I can say is that the last few months have given people a renewed sense of hope and determination to fight for the country that they want. I have never believed that our problems start and end with Mugabe, so it will be a long and hard road to create to see those dreams for our country become a reality.
What are your impressions of Zimbabwe as a country? An incredibly beautiful and complicated place.
What would you like readers to take away from These Bones Will Rise Again? The book uses the traditional belief in spirit possession, in which people commune with their ancestors about their present and future concerns. This traditional practice, asking for the guidance and support of the ancestors was central to our liberation struggle. This I find is a really important lesson in a situation where, after more than thirty years of Mugabe’s rule that stretched right into his ninth decade, people tend to believe that Zimbabwe’s future is about the old dying and the new being born. As a young person part of the “born-free” generation of people born after the end of colonialism in 1980, I have learnt that the past continues to live with us and will not be wished away with the passage of time. Simply looking forward while attempting to remove ourselves from our history is a fool-hardy thing. And for that reason, I think it is important that we begin to think of Zimbabwe’s future as one that will be brought by about by an intergenerational struggle, and not the struggle of a single generation.
Panashe Chigumadzi is author of These Bones Will Rise Again (The Indigo Press). She will be at the Balham Literary Festival to discuss her book on Thursday 14th June. Visit: balhamliteraryfestival.co.uk. To pre-order the book (published 14th June) visit Amazon.