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Muna Hacha Maive Nei? The first speculative fiction novel in ChiShona re-published.

by Stephen Jakes
04 May 2016 at 13:19hrs | Views
A United Kingdom based Zimbabwean author Masimba Musodza, five years after publishing MunaHacha Maive Nei? has again issued the first ever science-fiction novel in ChiShona, and the first novel in that southern African language to appear in a digital edition before going to print.

Belontos, a small press established operating out of the North East England town of Middlesbrough states that this development follows a renewed international interest in speculative fiction from the margins of the western tradition.

It said the book the first published in 2011, it is the first novel in ChiShona that fits the definition of "science fiction."

The organsiation said since its publication, there has been a renewed interest in speculative fiction by African writers.

Masimba was keynote speaker at this year's Asixoxe-Let's Talk Conference on African Philosophy at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where he presented a paper on the Foundation for Speculative Fiction in ChiShona.

The original text of the paper is in ChiShona, and appears in the new edition of MunaHacha Maive Nei?

Headshot of the author, states that the new editions- hardback, paperback and ebook- come with a paper on the roots of speculative fiction in ChiShona, tracing the genre to the legend of Nhururamwedzi, the attempt by the Kalanga Empire to reach the moon during the reign of Chirisamhuru in the 1830s to his own work and the influences behind it.

Masimba reportedly presented an English translation of the paper at the Asixoxe-Let's Talk! Conference on African Philosophy at the School of Oriental and African Studies (28-29 April 2016) in London, where he was one of two confirmed keynote speakers.

"Masimba also met with award-winning British speculative fiction author and university lecturer Geoff Ryman, who interviewed him as part of a project to document 100 African authors," reads the hardshots. "One of the questions Ryman had for the author was how he circumnavigated the obstacle posed by the limitations in vocabulary that a language like ChiShona might have for writing, for example, scientific concepts."

Masimba reportedly pointed out that MunaHacha Maive Nei? was actually written in response to a dare that it was impossible to write "complicated stuff" in ChiShona, a belief held by many Zimbabweans. Masimba credits Decolonising The Mind by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, which he read as a Form One student, for shaping his views on his native language.

"Such developments (the invitation to the conference) represent a radical paradigm shift in how fiction by African writers is viewed," says Masimba.

"Last year, everyone was ranting or moaning about the international appeal of the literary genre derisively called ‘misery porn.' It looks like some people decided to do something about that, and speculative fiction by African writers is now being taken seriously. We (African writers of speculative fiction) have been around for a while, though."

"Don't get me wrong, I don't think novels about social, political and economic issues affecting the whole or a part of Africa are a problem. The problem comes in believing that they represent the sum of African literature, or how these issues ought to be written about. Speculative fiction writers have been looking at the same issues- but approaching that looking at very differently. Finally, the rest of the world is beginning to sit up and take notice," he added.

MunaHacha Maive Nei? is published by Belontos Books of Middlesbrough and available through online distribution platforms around the world. There are plans for translations, the first being most likely KiSwahili and then a non-African language.

The spectre of famine, and its potential to emerge as a geo-politically strategic weapon, illegal bio-engineering experiments by an international corporation colluding with corrupt local officials, villagers fearful of an ancient mythical creature, and two young girls' quest to find the truth themselves.

 These are some of the elements that make Masimba Musodza's first novel in his own language. Way ahead of its time when it was published five years ago, it now finds itself back in the stores as the world begins to pay more attention to speculative fiction from the margins.

Masimba Musodza is a writer of mostly speculative fiction. He writes in both English and ChiShona.

Born in 1976, in time to live in an independent Zimbabwe, Masimba attended Avondale Primary School in Harare and St Mary Magdalene's High School in Nyanga.

He studied film making at the now defunct Vision Valley Film, Video & Television Institute in Harare, specialising in screenwriting and directing. A promising career as a screenwriter was cut short when he joined millions of young Zimbabweans leaving the political and consequent economic uncertainty engulfing the southern African nation, arriving in the United Kingdom in 2002. He has settled in the North East England town of Middlesbrough.

Masimba's literary works have been published online, in Zimbabwe, Jamaica, South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom and other places, making him one of the most widely read Zimbabwean writers.

 In 2011, the year he became a fulltime writer again, he was named Writer of the Year in the Zimbabwe Music and Arts Award Literary Arts Category. In 2015, Culture Trip named him one the 10 Best Writers from Zimbabwe. He writes mostly speculative fiction, but is also widely known for the Dread Eye Detective Agency series. True to the speculative fiction tradition, Masimba publishes via the small press, Belontos Books and genre magazines.

Currently, Masimba is in the Zimbabwean limelight with his ChiShona bone-chiller, Shavi Rechikadzi, a tale of sexual violence in Zimbabwe, and the evocation of Lilith to wreak a terrible revenge on behalf of those whom the justice system has failed.

Later this year, he switches to English with Herbert Wants To Come Home, a tale of his exiled generation and the anxieties about returning to Zimbabwe, with a nod to the immigration and identity themes in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

With his younger brother, the Zimbabwean based Twan Afriqa (b.Tawanda Musodza), and film director Angeline Dimingo, Masimba is working on what will be Zimbabwe's first "found-footage" horror feature film.

Five Facts About Masimba Musodza:

1. Masimba Musodza is a devout Rastafarian, subscribing to its tenets with regards to diet, hair etc. Among his prize possessions are original (Amharic) editions of both volumes of Hiywotenna ye'Ityopp'ya 'Aramajja (My Life and Ethiopia's Progress) The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Selassie I.

2.    Masimba Musodza is an actor of both stage and screen. His debut professional appearance was in Edgar Langeveldt's No News, Theatre-In-The-Park, Harare, 1997. More recently, he was an extra in ITV Studio's Beowulf:Return To The Shieldlands, where he plays a Vani warrior. He also has a cameo appearance in the video for Nigerian-British urban artist Finest CK's "Shake am."

3.    Masimba Musodza is the inspiration behind "Chaka Musodza", a character in the Zimbabwean soap Wenera (dir. Eddie Ndlovu).

4.    As a child, Masimba Musodza dreamed of becoming a scientist. As a teenager, he wanted to be a recording and performing artist.
5.     Masimba Musodza wears glasses for myopia.

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