Building Narratives: Nyoni tackles mental issues in new book

Author Courage Nyoni cited suicide as one of the severe impacts of unresolved mental issues especially amongst people living in high density areas.

EMERGING author Courage Nyoni cited suicide as one of the severe impacts of unresolved mental issues especially amongst people living in high density areas and how communities should come together to end several social ills engulfing them.

He stated that his writings are inspired by his unwavering quench to uncover some of the issues that are overlooked in society and his latest offering is a perfect reflection of that sentiment. His experiences as a Zimbabwean living in Zimbabwe motivated him to write his literary piece and he aims to divert society’s attention to the things that matter.

As I grabbed the copy of the book, I could not help but notice the beautiful and captivating artistic cover which portrays water seemingly in the sea but with a bit of rainbow which in essence correlates with the text’s title — Still Waters.

The plot for Still Waters is centered around James and Dorica who narrate the typical life of a Zimbabwean family in the streets of Kuwadzana — a high density suburb which lies on Harare’s western border, just south of the main Harare-Bulawayo Road. Through James and Dorica, Nyoni takes us through the various issues and struggles that are encountered by people in the ghetto and how they affect the children and various members of the community.

The book's first two chapters begin with Tonde’s sudden death in a suspected case of suicide which immediately arrests the reader’s attention.

“Nobody would have guessed what indeed had happened. Tonde was a secretive lad. He was not the type to open and vent quickly. He left his wars to himself. Even when he was in pain, he would try and hide it” (pp.6)

Here Nyoni explores the consequences of unresolved mental health issues and how they can result in sudden loss of life. With most of Zimbabwe’s high-density suburbs increasingly becoming hubs for drug and substance abuse, teenage pregnancies and child marriages–the churches in the ghetto appear to play a major role in providing the moral compass in suburbs which are riddled with chaos and disorder.

In the book, Nyoni also challenges communities to play a central role in ending drug and substance abuse and various other social ills. Other aspects highlighted include issues that affect the girl child from culture, teenage pregnancies, relationships, heartbreak and the weaponisation of religion against women and here the author depicts how religion is being weaponised as a tool to abuse women through using their beliefs against them.

“No one had told me about all this. As a young wife, I was confused, I thought I had prepared enough but I was proven wrong there. My mother was the first to say, “ndizvo zvinoita dzimba, shingirira”. So, I stayed and kept on trying. I felt cornered and with each passing month, I was getting worried–(pp.80)

Here Nyoni shows that culture and religion are selectively applied to oppress people.

Still Waters is a reflection of Nyoni’s spectacular penmanship as he explored several societal aspects with his provoking themes.

He also nailed it with several inserted poems in some chapters which give a musical and poetic balance and touch to some instances in which a sombre atmosphere would have engulfed the text. The fact that some of the poems are in the vernacular enforces the Zimbabwean indigenous touch within the text.

The book could however do better with a bit of proofreading.

Nyoni has hinted that he intends to officially launch his latest offering in early 2024.

A civil engineering student by day and an author and poet by night — Nyoni’s many skills also include being a web and Android developer. Nyoni stated that the inspiration behind his book comes from his desire to challenge the status quo by opening the minds of fellow Zimbabweans.

  • This article was coordinated by Atrishya Gondo
  • Fungayi Antony Sox works at TisuMazwi – a public relations and communication-centered social enterprise specialising in book publishing, digital literacy education and storytelling projects. He writes in his personal capacity. For feedback contact him on 0776 030 949, connect with him on LinkedIn on Fungayi Antony Sox, or follow him on Twitter @AntonySox

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