Mabasa‘s short story collection unravels life

MANY lessons can be drawn from life. But how can we learn from multiple situations when we only have got a single life to spend on earth? This is the point where writers come into play as “unintentional” decoders of life.

By Beniah Munengwa

Title: Makore Asina Mvura
Author: Ignatius Mabasa (Ed)
ISBN: 978-0-7974-6760-6
Publisher: Bhabhu Books (2016)

Sometimes a language that is not yours will not be able to serve your purpose. It will not help capture with brutal honest matters that only you and those of your kind can comprehend. You need a language that you can tame, twist and convert to paint a picture of your own. To achieve that, a writer resorts to nothing else but the mother language.

A product of such circumstances is Makore Asina Mvura, a collection of short stories that illustrate the experiences of people who find themselves in unsatisfactory situations, some created by self and others by fate.

Zimunya in an interview with Williams (1988) noted that “fundamentally, I think you have seen Africans thoroughly through the Shona, you’ve seen their behaviour, their culture sometimes, and there are some areas where the English language is too stifling, too inflexible, rigid, and cannot quickly translate the feelings, moods, experiences that we have.”

From this preposition, Makore Asina Mvura, through multiple Shona dialects, presents close to a complete social and economic experience of the people of Zimbabwe. The use of vernacular preserves the organic fabric of human relations that are often lost when translated to a foreign language.

With the help of Caroline Chiumburu and Tinashe Muchuri, Ignatius Mabasa compiles a rich tapestry of Zimbabwean case studies and reflections of society. For the few hiccups that came out unnoticed, the editor projects a coming of a second edition that will smoothen the presentation.

From 15 stories emerge a multitude of rhetorical questions and real life situations that in many ways empower young people to make more informed decisions as they ponder on their life experiences.

Imagine you were the husband in the story, Pedzisai, and you have lived for long without siring a child. You get anxious and finally, after many years, she tells you she is pregnant.

Or rather, maybe you are this wife who wants to save her marriage and then risks anything for you to get a baby. In your pathway, it is the n’anga that then sleeps with you. You sire a child, and the child gets so sick that he is close to dying, but he can only be healed if the truth about his fatherhood is told — that he belongs to a different totem from his assumed father.


Your husband gets devastated, but the truth is that it was him who was barren. His whole clan sends you packing. You ask, what on earth has befallen you. Is it fate or was it some form of indecision?

Then you experience how it is to be a financially stable bachelor in the face of greedy and self-seeking women as in the story Handichadi. A girl so desires that you marry her and then sets a trap so that you sleep with her.

But in some way, you survive the trap but the girl of your dreams is not going to let you get away with deflowering her. A false rape charge is levelled against you and you spend a few days in remand prison. And in there, another girl you know takes care of you. Soon you are released. The girl of your dreams regrets her act and wants you back, will you take her back?

And for the girls, you reflect; would that be a noble idea, to bulldoze your way into marriage or to listen to the advice of aunts who are at least only now self-seeking so as to ruin someone’s dream for the good of curbing your insecurities?

Reading on, find no space for naiveties in the dog-eat-dog jungle of Harare where deceit is rampant. Should girls be vulnerable to the extent of believing mere words and promises? You will laugh at the narrator as she falls in love with a man she affectionately calls Ben Wangu.

Apparently Ben Wangu is not even Ben. He is not even the single guy he pretends to be, but someone else’s husband. And yet some still fall in this saddening sentimental trap.

Hope and perseverance can at times be rewarding. This is the tale of Ndopabuda Here Apa? Following Esap, Tawanda finds himself unemployed but with a first-class degree and also applying for a job together with his former lecturer. No matter how difficult, he finds himself getting the job and it helps him change the fortunes of his family.

Still in the avenue of love is the concern that is it wise to start a marriage on the grounds of debt? Mahwani disqualifies bad debt and proves love never gets easier if you borrow to marry.

Parents prove to be playing the role of back steppers in their children’s quest to attain love in Rutsambo. It gets you questioning whether lobola still plays its necessary role, to foster and strengthen human relations.

And you get into the shoes of male teachers conducting their teaching practice. T P YaAdolf opens up a male teacher’s ordeal as his youth stands as a source of envy for young female students whose dreams do not go beyond getting married to a person with a guaranteed income as the teacher. Would he be wrong, as he was to be influenced by his still fervent libidinal state?

Complex layers bypassed when a rape occurs are seen in Ramangwana. The impulsive reaction to a rape case is to arrest the culprit, but is that how you react when the perpetrator is your breadwinner, one whose sweat pours into the plate that you devour every day?

So is when a child is born out of rape, do we say the father does not deserve to be forgiven. This is the scenario in Zviroto. So is the complex of the gospel of staying and the gospel of leaving a troubled relationship in Gomera Uripo.

Makara Asionani shows what happens in the modern church and prompts believers to revise the amount of faith that is put in the hands of religious figures as the power with which they use is unknown, so is their potential to harm their patients.

All these prepositions are carefully unrolled with the skill that a few have in possession. You do not have to be a city person or a rural person to relate to this collection. You just have to understand the language and I am sure each and every scenario explored including those I didn’t mention will have an impact on how you view and approach life and its ever drought promising situations.

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1 Comment

  1. Obvious Tinashe Dziwanyika.

    Maita basa editor vekushambadza basa redu zvakapfuma kudai. Zvidzidzo zviri mubhuku iri, vanhu vakariverenga, haiwa, magariro edu anoshanduka.

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