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Sweet Medicine

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Sweet Medicine is the story of Tsitsi, a young woman who compromises the values of her Catholic upbringing to find romantic and economic security through otherworldly means. The story takes place in Harare at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic woes in 2008. The book is a thorough and evocative attempt at grappling with a variety of important issues in the postcolonial conte ...more
Paperback, 203 pages
Published October 2015 by BlackBird Books
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Average rating 3.29  · 
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 ·  175 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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May 30, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This is a good debut! In between reading this, I watched interviews and talks where Panashe speaks on racism in South Africa (where she was raised, even though she was born in Zim), feminism, womanism and her magazine - Vanguard Magazine, which is basically... check full review on (link above) !
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
A sweet, sweet read. The plot steeped in reality I felt Tsitsi's anguish at the thought of loosing Zvogbo. Haai, ho thata banna! Talk about faking it till you make it.

Well written believable tale. Life does mirror art, truly.

Panache starts the story right before the climax and slowly takes us back to the beginning. The diction, while mixed with Shona, is simple and fits in very well with the the local culture de jeur.

Not wanting to give the plot away, in a nutshell, Panashe tells a story of Tsit
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Required reading! I like that this book is really honest about life. That it's not always black and white.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book humanizes the effects of the political/ economic crisis in Zim. I loved Tsitsi's thoughts and Chiedza's ideas. But i was completely lost in the shona. So the justification for not translating the Shona phrases was that she did not want to translate an African Language for other Africans. Its a bit arrogant for a continent with 100s of languages. She could have covertly given meanings of the Shona phrases without directly translating the meaning.
Mpumi Sithole
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really struggled with this read, the use of the Shona language is a tough one and the author did not translate or explain. Conversations with some of my Shona speaking friends also proved to collect negative sentiment as they felt the author made errors with some of the Shona words.

The scenes is set in Harare in 2008 at the height of Zimbabwe's economic crisis. The story is about how Tsitsi tries to attain economic and you may say romantic security in an unstable country.

The story tracks Tsit
Tumelo Moleleki
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I struggled to follow the rythm of the book until the last few chapters. I enjoyed the chapter where Tsitsi accompanied Chiedza to church. I felt like the voice in that chapter was different to the rest of the book. I love bits of vernacular in dialogue because it is hard to get lost because you didn't understand what the character was saying. When it is used in narration, I prefer that the subsequent narration should lead me to understanding what was said without being overt about it. I found t ...more
Thelma Melk
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: catalog
Refreshing. A great holiday read.
Anelile Gibixego
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Panashe is a beautiful wordsmith. In sweet medicine we can see her carefully articulated descriptions and creative abilities.

I had not wanted to pick up this book for a long time because of its cover. I found the cover to be odd and doesn't at all translate to what the book is about. It does the book injustice.

I did struggle reading it to the end because it did not flow well for me. I was unclear about what the story actually was right through the book. There were moments where I had to re-rea
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book but despite my best efforts, I did not enjoy this at all.

There doesn't seem to be a plot or any character development and the writing style is awkward and long winded. The alternating between past and present didn't work well.

What worked well was the depiction of life in Zimbabwe under difficult conditions and the interactions brought on by the Chiedza character. I really enjoyed the chapter describing the charismatic churches.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Could perfectly relate to Tsitsi’s struggle and found it a smooth read even as I didn’t understand the slangs..
Mar 02, 2016 added it
– You cannot fight an evil disease with sweet medicine. –

– Work, don't wish. –

– For many families a woman is only really good enough to do two things. That's to either get married off to a son-in-law for a good number of cows, or, if she so chooses to remain a spinster for the rest of her life, to be free domestic help for the household. So, if that's the case and I have the honour of being disregarded by the likes of Fata Masika, I'm happy to be an educated prostitute. –

– The most difficult ki
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Baratang by: evelyn madoroba
Wow, a typical African story. It brings back memories from not so far back, and reminds one of what is currently at play.
Lelo B
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
I think my expectations were a bit too high. It's an okay read.
Muthoni Muiruri
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Two things got me into this book – 1) The Cover and 2) The First Sentence. I have been talking about covers recently and I am quite passionate about it – I feel like African publishers are putting little to no effort on the covers of the books they publish, so when I saw this I was blown away. I almost want to frame it and hang it in my living room. The double- coloured cover is also quite apt in describing the situation Tsisti finds herself in – torn between her catholic values and her hunger a ...more
Andrea van Wyk
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is set in Harare, Zimbabwe, at the height of the country's economic and political crisis in 2008.

Tsitsi, a young, well-educated woman, is desperate to make sure her mother, a domestic worker, is well taken care of. Despite having a degree in economics, Tsitsi only finds works as a secretary, barely earning enough to ensure having a meal once every second or third day.

Then she comes up with a plan, one that offends her Catholic sensibilities, but that she defends to ensure she doesn't
Claire Hondo
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
“And why not? If he could do it to her, he can do it to you.”

Sweet Medicine was an easy read, with many Shona untranslated portions lol which I thought made the author bold enough. Its a story of a girl, Tsitsi who was daring to go after what she wanted, though she had Insecurities, identity crisis, and religious convictions battling inside. I love how the author portrays Tsitsi all her different sides such that it’s easy to love her and hate her at the same time. The author displays the positio
Peace Amike
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
A very light and captivating read from start to finish.
Through the lens of Tsitsi, I got a glimpse into the economic and political state of Zimbabwe in 2008.

The use of Shona in some of the dialogue broke the rhythm of the narrative for me because it was neither translated or explained. But I do love the fact that Chigumadzi used Shona so boldly and unapologetically; it brought authenticity to the text.
Only wished that the plot did not end so abruptly. I wanted to see more character development o
Sandisiwe Magadla
May 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had high expectations for this book because I went to the book launch in 2016 and I really enjoyed the curation of it. It was warm. It gave me a sense of the Zimbabwe during that time but unfortunately this didn't translate into the book. The story line was all of the place. It didn't run smoothly and while I am not against timelines in books being manipulated(?), Chigumadzi didn't know how to do this. She only started revealing the important bits in the last pages of the book which is an issu ...more
Jun 09, 2020 rated it liked it
More like 2.5

I don't think it was a bad book, but there were moments that felt disjointed, especially some of the flashbacks. That said, there were also moments where I was grateful for the non-linear storytelling.

The is a lot of Shona in this book. Not a complaint, just an observation. Shona is not too far from Chichewa, so there were times, where I could make out what was being said, but there were more moments of me google translating things (and Google translate Shona wasn't the best) or bu
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Okay I liked it. It wqs good. But there were a lot of spots where characters lapsed into their language (Shona?) But they weren't translated. It wad hard to decifer the meaning. Chigumadzi is a talented writer, but her the transitions between past and present were often unclear, leaving me confused.
Dan Squire
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good book, although there's a fair amount of Shona included with no glossary - you have to guess from context if you don't speak the language. Enjoyed the insight into the 2008 Zimbabwean crash, which I didn't really know anything about, although the book is mainly about the protagonist's emotional story so it doesn't get caught up in the historical backdrop too much. 4/5.
Lethumusa Kulube
Jun 20, 2020 rated it liked it
The build-up of the story was good. I enjoyed how it unfolded as the pages turned.

I was very disappointed with the ending. it felt as though the author was given a deadline and rushed to end the story. I think it deserved a more conclusive ending, at least for the sake of the character Tsitsi if not the story itself.
Malebo Sephodi
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absolutely loved the solid writing style. Very intellectual and literary. I loved that she did not translate the Shona bits in the book, to force Africans to ask each other regarding our languages. It is a definite unifying factor. Thank you for your brilliant offering.

Also one of the first books I have owned with such a stunning cover.

Highly recommended.
Phumi Makhanya
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Enjoyable light holiday read
Ayanda Makhanya
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Her style reminded me of Chimamanda. Great read overall.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting story

Overall an okay book. The end was abrupt. The lives of the supporting characters were left somehow abruptly as well.
Bitnigg House
Dec 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
I found this book quite boring.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
The interviews i read with this author impressed me a lot. Do not know why i opted to read her novel rather than her essays - a mistake, as i found this flat, unevenly written and formulaic.
Lena Makena
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sweet Medicine is an exquisitely written book!

Panashe tells a beautiful story of how religion, patriarchy, sexism, economics, politics and colonialism intersects in a young woman's (Tsitsi) quest for economic survival. The story is set at the height of Zimbabwe's political and economic collapse.

Tsitsi, a shy conservative rural girl moves to the city for her high school and college studies. Whilst at the convent and university she quickly learns the city-living ropes from her streetwise school
Siyamthanda Skota
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sweet Medicine is a marvelous book which will make you forget where you are and only see the Zimbabwe being so vividly painted in the book and through the eyes of the narrator. As narrated. In one of the scenes in the book, Tsitsi, the protagonist, remembers reading a book called “A Storm Is Brewing: Poems” when she was still a young girl herding cattle mostly with boys. She recalls how she struggled with the author’s (Kristina Rungano) “words, not only for the English, but also for their double ...more
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“You look at me and judge me. And I just want to ask, for what? I am in full control. No one has a gun to my head. Why can't this be my profession,one I have chosen for myself? I tell you prostitutes are professional in their skills and practise it like the vocation of true apostles- and why shouldn't they? What's so different from the accountant or the doctor selling his time? I ended up in this profession in the same way someone might end up being a lawyer because the couldn't get into engineering or dentistry,or because they couldn't get into medicine, or even a banker who grew up telling everyone they want to be a soccer player. They do those things because that was what was available for heir talents and their circumstances at that time. But do we pity them? No, because that's lif-” 4 likes
“You know, Tsitsi, you are so quick to point out that you are not a prostitute. I just want to laugh because you are just falling into rank. You all should spare us your ‘morality’ that lauds ‘women’ over the supposedly lesser ‘whores’ and ‘girls’. That’s how society sees us. That’s how you see us. You want it to be that we are like coal, only to be loved in the dark and tossed like ashes come morning.” 3 likes
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