Academic journal article NAWA: Journal of Language and Communication

History and the Ideology of Narrative in Charles Mungoshi's Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva (1975)

Academic journal article NAWA: Journal of Language and Communication

History and the Ideology of Narrative in Charles Mungoshi's Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva (1975)

Article excerpt


Charles Muzuva Mungoshi is one of Zimbabwe's leading Action writers today. The author is well known for his creative works in English. His Waiting for the Rain (1975) is internationally acclaimed as probably the best novel to have emerged from Zimbabwe (Stratton, 1986: 9). Mungoshi has also written other works in English; Coming of the Dry Season (1972), Some Kinds of Wounds (1980), The Setting Sun and the Rolling World (1987), The Milkman Does not only Deliver Milk (1998) and most recently, Walking Still (1998). International readers may not know, however, that Charles Mungoshi is a bilingual Action writer in the indigenous Shona language of the Shona people who constitute more that eighty per cent of Zimbabwe's population. Amongst his well-known works in the Shona language are a drama, Inongova Njakenjake (Everyone does his Own Thing) (1980), and the novels, Mukunun'unu Maodzaomoyo (Troubles of the Heart (1970), Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva (How Time Passes) (1975) and Kunyarara Hakusi Kutaura? (Is Silence not Talking?) (1983). Mungoshi has also rendered Ngugi wa Thiongo's A Grain of Wheat in translation, Tsanga Yembeu (1987), that has been prescribed as a reader in Zimbabwe's secondary schools. Despite this enormous talent in the Shona language, those international readers who are aware of Mungoshi's Shona titles may be hampered from an understanding of these works of art by virtue of the fact that they are written in the indigenous Shona language.

This essay seeks to analyse and bring out the ideological function of the 'content of form' (White, 1987: xi) as expressed through the technique of 'stream of conciousness' in Ndiko kupindana Kwamazuva.

On the surface, the plot of Ndiko kupindana Kwamazuva is a novel about the progressive disintegration of the marital relationship of Rex Mbare and his wife, Rindai. Set in colonial Rhodesia, the novel focuses on the social consequences of the impact of colonial policies on the cultural margin inhabited by the blacks of Rhodesia. These fractured lives of the blacks in Rhodesia are retrieved through a series of flashbacks that are rooted in the technique of 'stream of consciousness' that is consistently used in the novel.

'Stream of consciousness' as a creative method has been traced to the Irish writer, James Joyce, who used it effectively in his novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1964). In an interview with Flora Veit-Wild (1993), Charles Mungoshi acknowledges direct influences from Joyce, whose novels Mungoshi enjoyed at secondary school. Mungoshi claims that the technique of 'stream of consciousness', borrowed and adapted for use in his own novel, enabled him to enter into the psychology of his characters. This helped him bring out the tensions that defined the lives of his characters and it explained their contradictory motivations when they responded to colonialism and other social forces that affected black lives in Rhodesia. 'Stream of consciousness' also allows Mungoshi the creative latitude to write about the lives of African blacks in Rhodesia without adopting the stereotype of presenting his characters as outright victims of colonialism whose historical agency, to paraphrase Mbembe, is expressed only through negative politics of toying with and bridling the colonial and African patriarchal hegemonic forces (Mbembe, 2001: 129). By using 'stream of consciousness' to enter into the mental processes of the individual characters, Mungoshi fishes out their lonely thoughts, which he sometimes depicts as seriously at odds with the external world. Mungoshi also avoids presenting the lives of his characters as congeries of lived experience perpetually manifested in what Jeremy Weate (2003) describes as resistance to dominant powers.

'Stream of consciousness' delineates individuated feelings, thoughts, doubts and uncertainties of life's terrifying possibilities in ways that imitate the refusal of the human brain to think in straight lines. …

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