This novel is a wonderful attempt to set the record straight. It is written as a letter from a traditional Zimbabwean mother to her modern, educated, daughter, who is going away to study at Harvard. In the letter the mother relates stories from her past about herself, about her family, about her lovers, about her friends, about the contrast between country and city, the traditional and the modern, about Zim ...more
Zenzele is a story about a lot of things, from love and family to political activism and racism. Shiri, the mother, tells stories from her own life and lives of those around her: about growing up in the countryside, about her adulthood in Harare, about the ...more
She shares the lessons she learned growing up in Zimbabwe when it was Rhodesia, the segregation between the blacks and the whites, her disappointments and ...more
On its importance, I give it 5 stars, for it conveys much that is left unsaid and continues to be misunderstood regarding the African viewpoint of immigrant experiences, the callous oppression wrought by whites/Europeans for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, and the conduct of life we sho ...more
"When independence came, we celebrated with tears in our eyes. We would continue the struggle to ensure that our children received every opportunity of Western privilege...There was nothing that our children asked for that we denied them. We who had grown up knowing only deprivation, austerity and hard labor. We wanted only the best for them. We even sent them to the best private schools with plenty of whites... But it was all in vain. They have neither respect nor gratitude....these modern chil...more
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Zenzele, especially since it was in the epistolary form, but it certainly exceeded my expectations. As a daughter I remember the lessons my mother, grandmother, and other wise women in my family taught me through word, deed, ...more
This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read, with poignant lessons we could all learn.
I don't ordinarily like epistolary books a ...more
My first thought regarding this book (like over the summer) was that it didn't seem like a book you read for school, and I was right. When I think of school books, I think they only have to have examples of rare and uncommon literary devices or are widely known by everyone. Zenzele was neither. Instead, I think the reason we read this book was because it was so culturally rich but still had that concept of imagery and beautiful writing. It doesn't seem very well known (**I may be wrong**) and...more
This book was an enjoyable read. The book was not actually a book of letters to a daughter but more like a journal of the mother 19s life, despairs, events, relationships, adventures and the emotions during her life before and after her daughter was born. There was also a consistent flow of events written about her and her daughters bonding before her daughter left Harare, the Capital Zimbabwe, to go to Harvard College in the United States. The mother, Shiri wa ...more
I think I will need to read it over and over and over again, because there is so much in here, and what I see and take from these stories now will no doubt be different when I read it again, when my circumstances are different, and lessons and thoughts that are invisible to me now will be abundantly clear.
A beautiful meditation on race, peace, hope and despair, human love in all its many forms, feminism and femininity, spirituality and faith and rel ...more
As Zenzele embarks on an exciting life-changing journey to leave Africa and attend Harvard, her mother chronicles thoughts and feelings in the form of an open letter.
Proud of both her daughter and her country, her mother eloquently encourages her daughter to remember her rich heritage. Citing others who have left, never to return, or who returned changed forever by a culture that provided different values, Z ...more
In essence, it is the authors attempt to grapple with the great issues of her time in place and she executes this in a phenomenal manner. She is able to dig into the gray areas and complexity of issues such as the conflicts and convergence of feminism, traditional society and modernity. Rather than read like a morali ...more
"I had once been naive enough to believe that all would be well if you lived by the rules. Good thinks happened to good people, blessed are the meek, etc."
"I wonder, too, about God....I have seen so many of our people, myself included, settle for the u ...more
There is a wonderful parable on pages 109-111: a young wife married a much older man ...more
I enjoyed learning a little about Zimbabwe's history and culture through the eyes of one who lived through it. I agree with the assessment that although progress and change are necessary, the past and it's customs should not be abandoned altogether. We should look for the good and noble and c ...more