SHEBEEN TALES by Chenjerai Hove

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Hove is a literary genius who manages to paint the picture of life in Zimbabwe in the 1990s using the fewest possible words. It is great for a book club, ” reading a book is as solitary as writing them. So Zimbabweans choose to talk” the author writes. He is really the first author to highlight the importance of an interactive audience in Zimbabwean storytelling. His works are filled with dialogue which is a big part of Shona prose making it great for book clubs and other interactive sessions.

 

The book gives a history lesson through the eyes of an ordinary citizen. The society’s contradictions of the structures of brutality brought about by colonialism yet alive and well in a democratic society. During colonial times black people could not drink and relax in clubs so they drank and discussed issues that affected their socities in Shebeens. The Shebeen was to Zimbabwe what the barbershop was to black in the western world.“These people are doomed to silence by this burden of illiteracy.”
“Democracy can never thrive in a political monologue in which the leaders like rain gods pour messages on the heads of the disempowered individuals and communities.”
“Only informed citizens can become democrats”
• Drought and the economics of cash crops vs. price controlled food.
• The denigration of life through corruption
• The generational divide and the dislocation of people from their homes are major themes which cause you to ponder at all this ‘progress.’

• Women are relegated to roles of dancers even in major political parties and the waiters at restaurants still believe in giving the check to the man without regard that the female boss could be on a business luncheon with her subordinate.

QUOTES FROM THE BOOK:

“Donor agencies and governments feature daily on television and in the newspapers, pouring their begged-for-money in to our national coffers. Thus we become a nation of beggars whose hands are fully stretched to receive every cent from the wealthy nation of the north. No word about our national identities, our aspirations and perceptions, nothing.

“Not many people listen to the echoes of their dreams in the morning. Most dreams in this world do not require attention; they are slowly abandoned to the warpaths of this life. The poet has come to grips; do battle with these dreams, reminding the dreamers that they have a right to their own dreams. Their dreams deserve a spot on the map of the world.”