Disclaimer: Reviewed at our last book club but the article is mostly the author’s opinion.
After having been removed from my country at an early age, our last book club read afforded me the opportunity to walk down the streets of my beloved country and understand some of the concepts that people around me used to throw around around 2008. Concepts such as BACOSSI- is a concept I am yet to understand.
Last month we reviewed Sweet Medicine, a novel by Panashe Chigumadzi. If you are unaware of the Zimbabwean situation, it will appear to you as a fictional story. In its true essence, Sweet Medicine tells the complex story of Zimbabwe in a very simple and easy to read way.
My review will highlight a few themes on the realities of a Zimbabwean graduate and themes around the stereotypes Zimbabweans are burdened with.
Realities of a Zimbabwean graduate
Home is best… A statement a lot of Zimbabweans graduates cannot relate to because of our situation. The Zimbabwean child has to find herself calling a place with a name you cannot pronounce home, straining her tongue in an attempt to fit in. Each day is a sacrifice of dignity and self-respect.
Deep down we all want to go home and develop our country but they are realities we cannot escape, I will get into detail with a few of the realities and give reference to the book.
You will not find your ideal job: this was the main pressure influencing the plot of the book. Also, it is a reality for most. You set your sights on the corner office but you ended up doing a “lame” job you could have done straight out of high school because bills have to be paid.
Women give off themselves to get a job: The book loosely describes this as a girl having to do what they need to do to secure a future for themselves and their family. Tsitsi climbed her way up the ladder from being a “side chick” to walking down the aisle; this is a ladder many people frown upon. In so doing, she compromised her religious beliefs and moral values.
If you secure employment in the streets of Harare via Nepotism or less likely by merit, you will earn a salary that barely affords a means to survive. At this stage, you start to consider the different ladders that life affords you.
Mwana wevhu (Child of the soil), what did you have to sacrifice?
Stereotypes confirmed or stereotypes broken
A woman’s place is the seat behind a man: in the book the priest pushed this ideology questioning the benefits of educating a girl child. This phenomenon is echoed in the classroom when the male student felt the need to dominate the female. As you flip the pages of the book you realize that Chiedza plays the role of snatching equality forcefully. As an African woman, are we freed of the shackles?
Men lose interest in women who pursue them: Growing up Zimbabwean I was always under the impression that Zimbabwean men were traditional (so to speak) and would never pursue a woman who shows interest first. The way Panashe described Chiedza I swear she bathed in pheromones. She would make the first move and men would come drooling.
If he could do it to her, he can do it to you: Women have insecurities because of the way they find their men, rightfully so… We throw this statement referring to matters in and outside of marriage. Allow me to give you the opinion of a 20 something unmarried woman on men who have never been married. I realized that after 24, everyone has a situation of some sort so at the end it is highly unlikely that you find your person with no one sending him/ her that morning text.
White men are into curvy African bodies: Were these ideologies put in place for the African women to not be influenced by the model in magazine because a having a white man was deemed as an achievement? African woman, the anatomy of women is the same even though some are ‘yellow bones’.
A women needs to be coy to be attractive: Sometimes sexual confidence is important or does it depend? I do not have all the answers…
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be enlightened while having fun.
A philanthropist by night and a marketer by day. She is always keen to listen and learn.
Our last book club session on the 28th of August was probably the most heated session we have ever had. That is the beauty of reading a book that is relatable in so many ways. To be more involved in the Book Club and engage in interesting discussions with other young women who are passionate about reading and writing pure African narratives, contact us on blvbookclub@aboutand find out more