In Africa almost everybody is bilingual. There is a choice between speaking the colonialist language or the local language. And often we find ourselves in the middle, speaking the Pidgin Language (English, French, Portuguese) in unofficial places. In Nigeria, Pidgin English is the most common form of communication. However, some scholars have called for the use of African Languages in official settings. This call has been called populist by some and shunned by others. In fact, recently an author argued that the African Language divides. Until then, I never heard that the language of our forefathers could divide us. We all had our say on the issue.
However, few authors are taking this call to higher levels. A name that comes to mind easily is Ngugi wa Thiongo'o, who writes in Gikuyu, his mother tongue. And Masimba Musodza is also contributing to making this dream a success. Masimba Musodza, according to the Press Statement below, has written the first science-fiction novel in Shona. I first heard of Masimba when I read his short story, Yesterday's Dog, in the first edition of the African Roar anthology. That story showed the cyclic nature of man and the ever-changing roles we hold. His story was one of my favourites in the collection.
The Press Statement
UK based Zimbabwean author, Masimba Musodza, has ushered in a new era in Zimbabwean literature by publishing the definitive first science-fiction/horror novel in ChiShona and the first in that language to be available on amazon Kindle.
MunaHacha Maive Nei weaves issues of greed & corruption, sustainable development, international corporate intrigue and concerns around bio-technology. Chemicals from a research station conducting illegal experiments begin to seep in to the local ecosystem, causing mutations in the flora and fauna. When a child is attacked by a giant fish, the villagers think it is an affronted mermaid-traditional custodian of the ecology- and seek to appease it according to the prescription of folk-lore. However, the reality of what is happening soon becomes evident, a reality more terrifying than any legend or belief.
MunaHacha Maive Nei was written for the next generation of ChiShona readers, taking a language that has long contended with encroaching westernisation into the modern world of information technology and new media. It was written in the United Kingdom, a country that considers ChiShona a language widely spoken enough to have official documents and information printed in. Musodza demonstrates a remarkable flair for ChiShona and overturns the notion that it is not possible to write "complicated stuff" in a language that is often shunned by the educated back home. Influenced by Professor Ngugi wa Thiongo's Decolonising the Mind, Musodza has been an advocate for the sustained use of African languages. (see this article here) It is his hope that MunaHacha Maive Nei will generate more than academic interest. The print edition will be published in the next few weeks by Coventry-based Lion Press Ltd.
Masimba Musodza was born in Zimbabwe in 1976, and came to England in 2002. A screenwriter by profession, he published his first book in 1997, The Man who turned into a Rastafarian. He is perhaps best known in literary circles for his Dread Eye Detective Agency series. Musodza lives in the North-East England town of Middlesbrough.
click here for the link to Musodza's page on amazon Kindle