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Africa: Stories in the 55
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Honoring those who lived through Zimbabwe's Gukurahundi in Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's novel, House of Stone

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

In Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's debut novel, House of Stone, readers are regaled with a story of the Mlambo family, as told by Zamani, their lodger and a master manipulator. In his quest to re-write his own personal history, he delves into the lives of 'surrogate parents' Abednego and Mama Agnes, and unravels their family secrets that are seemingly tightly wound amidst the backdrop of the post-liberation massacre in Ndebeleland, the Gukurahundi. Zimbabwean author Tshuma speaks to RFI's Africa: Stories in the 55, about the impact writing this book has had on her, and how the characters reflect the spirit of Zimbabwe.

Tshuma says that the novel came from a desire to examine first-hand accounts of the violence, the disappearances and the deaths in Ndebeleland in western and southwestern Zimbabwe during the early 1980s.

"We speak about the Liberation War all the time. But when it comes to the genocide, it is always a matter of shutting it down," she says, adding that by not addressing the psychological, social and communal issues, by not acknowledging people have died, healing cannot begin.

House of Stone unwinds tightly held secrets, touching on the role that Black Jesus, a fictionalized version of Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe's current agricultural minister, played during the Gukurahundi. Ultimately, can history be rewritten? Can personal history be rewritten? Tshuma examines this and more, as she presents Zimbabwe's past that some find hard to remember.

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