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First Sci-fi novel in Shona relaunched

by Belontos Books
04 May 2016 at 07:37hrs | Views
Muna Hacha Maive Nei? The first speculative fiction novel in ChiShona re-published.

Five years after publishing MunaHacha Maive Nei?, Masimba Musodza has issued again 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. This development follows a renewed international interest in speculative fiction from the margins of the western tradition.

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 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. 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 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."

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.

Source - Belontos Books