16 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2021
  2. onedrive.live.com onedrive.live.com
    1. They took one look at me and dragged him off. And the corridor came and stone steps cut into me grazing my knuckles and knees and a foot kicking me tore through the faded cloth of my sanity and they took one hand each and they dragged the endless stone steps into the stains that had once been my raging brains.

      In an unjust world, in which a black policeman is brutally beating their own, everything is turned around and upside down. Led to the edge of sanity, the narrator has begun despising all people, and naturally himself. The absurd in the narrative, and therefore in the paragraph, is underlined by the reversal of roles (73). After beating up the narrator into unconsciousness, it is the black policeman that is being dragged off by the white officers. The narrator is clearly being dragged off to somewhere, yet the action is not portrayed legibly. Instead of him getting injured on the stairs, the stone steps “attack” his knuckles and knees, just as a foot kicks him and tears “through the faded cloth of (his) sanity” (73). While his head is being bashed into the stairs, it is portrayed as if the “stone steps” are the ones being brought to the narrator’s head, reducing his brains to stains: “they dragged the endless stone steps into the stains that had once been my raging brains”. This description could be also the result of his bad physical condition after the beating. It is as if the world is attacking the narrator and he is stuck in the horrid reality of it all, able only to receive the blows dealt to him. Such descriptions parallel perfectly the actual issues of the society the narrator lives in. His disdain for people (in general) is existent for a reason as he finds himself in a world of misery, inequality, and hatred.

    2. The nganga was called.

      Nganga (91) is a term originating from the Bantu family language Kikongo, spoken in West Africa. The term is also used in societies of African people in other countries, such as Cuba and Brazil. The -gang in Nganga is related to wisdom, knowledge, and skill. Throughout the Bantu-speaking world, there are variations of the term, while the modern languages have contributed entirely new meanings (such as a plant alternative for marijuana). In its earliest form, and throughout Africa, nganga means herbalist or spiritual healer. The nganga has the special skill to communicate with spirits in order to find the root of an illness, misfortune, or any social malady, and find a solution for the problem. The methods of healing include not only supernatural elements, but also natural medical ingredients. The nganga can also transfer spiritual forces to sacred objects. The nganga (or n’anga) of the Shona society of Zimbabwe is a practicing traditional healer, whose methods include herbalism, religious rituals, and spiritual healing. The n’anga have the ability to tell fortunes and hold great influence over people - they can bless them or even kill them. Because of those special skills, the n’anga were the main helpers of people, during challenging times, throughout the decades. It is even said that during the Rhodesian Bush War, the Guerilla leaders consulted with the n’anga. Today, in Zimbabwe, the n’anga are recognized practitioners and are registered in the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healer's Association.

    3. Kaffirs at the back. Kaffirs

      The narrator and his friend, Philip, visit a “drowsy” coffee shop, where at the counter there is an old white pensioner (72). The state of this person is described without mentioning any gendered personal pronouns. The narrator calls the person an “it” and reduces the characteristics of “it” to facial features and dysfunctional body parts. This pensioner is in a pitiful condition, with saliva dripping down their front, with a mouth “embedded in meagre strings of pink fat” (72), with red eyes showing a “lifeless kind of boredom” (72). This heap of body is able to attract a black fly, which lands on the brow of the pensioner. In this pitiful condition, “it” is able to be hyper-focused on the race of the two visitors. This weak, pitiful pensioner is so strongly prejudiced, that the only reaction the visitors can get from “it” is showing them the segregated spot for black people. The pensioner uses the highly offensive term “kaffir”, which is a racial slur in South Africa and has been a legal crime since 1976. When meeting the two young men, this elderly person’s only thought is driven by the colonialist and racist mindset. The visitors are clearly in a better condition, be it physical or mental, yet the pensioner still considers them inferior, goes as far as to insult them because of their race. “It” is more concerned about where the black men sit. When Philip spits in the pensioner’s face, there is a minimal reaction. The person behind the counter does not do much but blink, the fly on the brow is not bothered at all. The only thing the pensioner does is to continue cursing at the two men. This entire scene is so bitterly ironic since the reader can clearly picture this lethargic mass of a human, with no sense of understanding whatsoever, in a pitiful physical condition, knowing only of segregation. The prejudice runs so deep that Philip’s assault seems like something that was expected by both parties. The pensioner just knows that the “kaffirs” are not deserving of a place in the front of the coffee store, and Philip knows of “its” preconceptions, which are undestroyable, so he acts not only as a way to avenge the offensive words, but to also angrily meet those expectations.

    4. 'Kaffirs at the back. Kaffirs ..

      “Kaffir” is a racial term that has been used to refer to people of African, South Asian, and Arabic descent (72). Historically, the word comes from Arabic and its meaning is a “non-believer”, usually used by a Muslim to describe a non-Muslim. The term can also be translated to “rejector” or “infidel”. Arab traders on the Swahili coast (whose trade was based on slavery) used the word to refer to the African people who were non-Muslim. The Portuguese arrived on the coast in the second half of the 15th century and assimilated the word as a way to refer to people from South Africa in general. The Portuguese passed the term to their Asian colonies, where the word is not considered offensive. During the colonial periods of Britain and the periods of Dutch rule, the word was used with no derogatory meaning and was often utilized by historians and writers. During the Apartheid, the term became commonly used by the Europeans in South Africa and acquired its derogatory meaning. Throughout the 20th century and today, the term is used as a derogatory term for Black Africans, and since 1976 its usage is considered a crime in South Africa.

    5. But the young woman's life is not at all an easy one; the black young woman's. She is bombarded daily by a TV network that assumes that black women are not only ugly but also they do not exist unless they take in laundry, scrub lavatories, polish staircases, and drudge around in a nanny's uniform. She is mugged every day by magazines that pressure her into buying European beauty; and the advice columns have such nuggets like 'Understanding is the best thing in the world, therefore be more cheerful when he comes home looking like thunder.' And the only time the Herald mentions her is when she has -in 189617 -led an uprising against the State and been safely cheered by the firing squad or when she is caught for the umpteenth time soliciting in Vice Mile.

      The life of a young black woman is not easy at all (65). This paragraph represents society’s pressure on black women to fit the Eurocentric beauty standards, which consider certain African features, such as the lips and the nose, unappealing, and therefore the opposite of that model is deemed superior (65). The social norms also have the ability to dictate the general life of a woman, outlining the position she needs to take in the community and in the family. She is to serve, to work for someone, to engage in activities for the purpose of providing the community or an individual with something, rather than live for her own desires and ambitions. All of this, of course, under the scrutiny of the male gaze. The narrator focuses not only on the racist reality black women live in but also the “traditional'' sexist views, following them since birth. According to the magazine columns of that time, the woman’s life is centered around a man and her main responsibility is to accommodate him (65). These factors indeed make the life of the black young woman hard, but in the context of the novella, the narrator’s statement seems to be almost ironic. In comparison to the experiences of women, described throughout the narrative, these social issues seem almost irrelevant. Parts of the woman’s reality are the horrendous acts of domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse, and murder, all seemingly drawing the attention of big crowds, but inspiring absolutely no desire to help (65, 66). Such experiences are considered part of “growing up” from the perspective of a young boy, the actions are normalised in the eyes of society (64).

    6. At once massive rocks of rain hurled themselves down upon the sleeping earth. The noise was deafening to the ear, the sight awesome to the eye, and the great torrents almost startled me into premature senility. Such a madness of the elements did not seem possible. Rude buckets of water poured over the school. It rained as though it would flood us out of our minds. It drummed on the asbestos roofs. It drummed on the window-panes. It dinned into our minds. It drummed down upon us until we could not stand it. It poured darkly; plashed; guttered; broke down upon our heads like the smack of a fist. It roared, splashed, soaked, stuttered stertorously down from the black spaces of the huge mindless universe. It rose. It swelled. It cracked its sides like a whip. Silver fish seemed to leap in frenzy by the bucketful. The mud plash and sucking of it churned round and round in our minds. It chilled up to the shoulders of one's soul. The delirium of rain shook the school into a feverish excitement. The eruption was like a boil that bursts and splatters everything with its black acids. The angry skies drove boulders of rain against the school until we felt our very sanity was under a relentless siege.

      Allegedly, stoning was the standard method of punishment in ancient Israel. According to the Old Testament, stoning served as a punishment for sins such as blasphemy and idolatry. The method required the collective action of the entire community, which served as a lesson to individuals. The sense of common rage is expressed through the violence of the people. The community in the novella is torn apart by injustice and hatred, and while there is an enemy colonialist, which the entirety of the country is facing, the people are divided within their nation, society, and even families. Individuals like Harry have resorted to betraying their own in order to be in the favor of the oppressors, and are openly disregarding the truth, pretending to be above the rest. The contrast between the biblical understanding of the act of stoning and the reality of nature is clear. The theme of stains, present in nearly every single layer of human existence, according to the narrator, is seemingly being challenged by the rage of the universe. The violent rain is not able to remove the stains, but it is able to punish the people: “It cracked its sides like a whip...The singing fury of it stuck little needles into the matter of our brains...The rain, it broke down the workers' compound; it felled the huts with its brute knuckle- duster” (44, 45). To me, the rain could be seen as a sort of vengeance, but also as a part of nature, that is in tune with the people. Led to such extremes by the horrible conditions, the people’s fury and desperation are reflected in the setting that surrounds them. For now, I have a bunch of different interpretations, but hopefully as we progress throughout the novella I will be able to find the intended meaning of the storm. Does the storm have a strictly negative meaning, or can it symbolise something positive?

    7. The match went out. The shadows closed around us with a noiseless cosmic violence. It woke her up. Her voice had an inner light stirring within it; the way clouds seem to have in their heart a trembling clarity. She spoke of many things, and fragments of things. She spoke with an intensity that seemed to refract my character the way a prism analyses clearly the light striking its surfaces.

      Immaculate is introduced as a character with such a strong, unbreakable spirit, which is able to withstand not only the abuse she receives in her own household, but also the suffering in a world lacking freedom, equality, fairness, and full of pain. Her courage is infuriating for cynical people, such as the narrator and Peter (14), but it is also contagious. In the beginning of the paragraph, the darkness of the room is underlined and intensified by relating its power to “cosmic violence” (41). There is also its physical representation, with the match lit by the narrator going out. These characteristics of the room all are in stark contrast to the description of Immaculate and her voice. Because of this, once plunged into darkness, the woman wakes up instead of continuing to sleep. Under normal circumstances, the lack of light leads to a person dozing off and not starting wide awake. The woman has not lost her hope for the future, and even though she endures agony, the spark in her heart is still there, she refuses to let it go. She is driven and this intensity, present in her voice, is noticed by the narrator, who has the same strong feeling for the ideas, significant to him.

    8. (Harry looked as though he had just been swallowed alive by Jonah's whale.)

      (Harry looked as though he had just been swallowed alive by Jonah's whale.) (50)

      According to the Scripture, Book of Jonah, God reached out to Jonah and ordered him to go to preach to Nineveh, as the people there committed a lot of sins. Jonah was enraged because Nineveh was one of the greatest enemies of Israel, and thought of the people as wicked. He did not want to go and preach to them. Because of that, Jonah tried to escape from God’s order. He started moving in the opposite direction of Nineveh by boat, and headed to Tarshish. God was enraged and sent a storm after the ship. The men on the boat realised that Jonah is to blame for the storm, so they threw him in the sea. When he was sent overboard, the storm stopped. God then sent a big fish, a whale, in order to save Jonah from drowning. The whale swallowed Jonah whole. In the stomach of the fish, the man prayed for help and praised God. Jonah spent three days in the whale, and then God ordered it to travel to the shores of Nineveh and to leave the man there. The whale spat Jonah out and the man entered Nineveh. There he spread the message of God and warned the people that if they do not repent the city would be destroyed in 40 days. The Ninevites listened to the preacher and turned away from their sins, so God was merciful to them. Jonah saw that and was enraged because Nineveh was an enemy of Israel, and God did nothing to punish the people. Jonah sat on the ground in his anger, so God gave him a vine which was to provide shade for the man. The next day, however, God sent a worm, which ate through the vine. Jonah had to sit under the hot sun and began complaining, he pitied himself and claimed that he wanted to die. God then reached out to him and reproached him - Jonah was so troubled by a single vine, while God had to take care of the thousands of people living in the city of Nineveh.

    9. When Nestar (what kind of a father would give his child a 65 name like that?)

      Nestar is a gender-neutral name of African descent, meaning greatness, power, and wisdom. In the tradition of Southern African naming practises, the parents chose a hopeful name with the intention of creating a bright future for their children. Nestar’s backstory shows that she has gone through many challenges as a young woman. She has been cast out by her community because of her unwanted pregnancy, and has been left homeless and struggling at the age of twelve. Under these horrible conditions, she has managed not only to survive this harsh reality, but also to come out on top. She has done everything she can in order to secure a good future for herself, and her labour has paid off. She lives a comfortable life, she is rich, and according to her “Money... was power. There is nothing worthwhile that has no gold in it...”. Her story has earned the respect of the narrator, who wants to tell it to other people. The name given to her by her parents has seemingly fulfilled its purpose. Additionally, in my opinion, the quote on page 71 “Ah, heroes, black heroes …” can also be interpreted as a statement about Nestar. After all, her life is proof that people who are victims of the worst conditions have the ability to grow inner strength and rise even from the darkest of lows. Does the narrator consider Nestar a symbol of Rhodesia?

    10. And again that oblique look: 'You did nothing of the sort. You've just been sitting there like something in a trance.

      The narration of the novella (from what I have seen for now) is composed of events that are happening as the narrator progresses through the story, mixed with past events, memories, and occasionally memories mistaken for reality (30), alongside the clear additions by the narrator, which show his point of view. Due to this mosaic fragmented nature of the narration, in which different timelines overlap, and the narrator goes through periods of questionable state of mind, the clear path of the novella is hard to follow. The narrator is also found under the influence of alcohol and cannabis. According to Marechera's brother, a family curse has been passed down to Marechera by his mother, which resulted in him refusing to meet his family after his return to Zimbabwe. This experience of the author can (allegedly - it is an assumption) be considered an influence on the narrator's condition - he sees people around him, who are not a part of reality. Their laughter affects him negatively and only the storm is able to chase them away. For these reasons, I am led to believe that the narrator sometimes shows signs of being an unreliable one. It is a bit too early to be certain about it, but that is my current conclusion.

    11. Immaculate

      Another naming tradition in Zimbabwe is directly related to the fact that in the past the country had one of the most stable and democratic educational systems and highest literacy rates. A majority of the population from that generation, no matter their position in society, spoke English. Because of that, many people were given names that have hopeful and direct meanings, such as Freeman, Shopman, Godknows, Pinkrose, Last, and Cabinet.

    12. Peter

      Zimbabwe is a country strongly influenced by colonialist naming traditions, and because of past British rule (1888-1964), the majority of people have more than their name, given at birth, but also an English name (or multiple). Parents believe that English names will help their children prosper in life. Some of the most famous English names in Zimbabwe are indeed Peter, Philip, Anne, and Harry. Dambudzo Marechera himself was born with the name Charles William Marechera.

    13. 'There was nothing left but stains.'

      There is a recurring theme of stains (at least for now). They symbolise people on a primitive level, what is left of someone, the final form of a person, who has been robbed of everything in life - hope, passion, courage. All of these characteristics are found in Immaculate, and Peter's desire to "beat her until she was just a red stain" (14) in order to "stamp the madness out of her" (14) leads to his domestic abuse. The narrator views the stains as a waste of life, the potential of the future, much like the existence of the "small man", which he compares to spider webs - "they are studded with minute skeletons of greatness" (14).

      Is this a concept, which can be applied to the narrator’s experience?

    14. Shure kwehure kunotambatamba haaa! Shure kwehure kunotambatamba haaa! Kanandazofa ndinokuchengetera nzvimbo haa! Kanandazofa ndinokuchengetera nzvimbo haa!

      The buttocks of a whore wiggle haa!

      The buttocks of a whore wiggle haaa!

      When I die I will reserve a place for you haa!

      When I die I will reserve a place for you haa!

    15. I could hear through the window children saying 'Break its neck'.

      The focus of this section falls on Peter's abuse of Immaculate, his anger then shifting on the narrator (14, 15). While the scene is unfolding, a cat's screams of agony are heard by Peter's brother. At the end of the scene it turns out that the neighbour's children have killed his cat - they have tried to burn it and have broken its neck (15, 16). This detail depicts the influence of the community's actions on children. Usually seen as pure and innocent, children look up to adults in their lives and take examples from their mannerisms and actions. Inspired by the adults' behaviour, such as Peter's domestic violence, the police's brutal methods of suppression, the horror of the guerrilla wars, the hatred, within the society, the children of this generation have become vicious, brutalising the animal (their neighbour's pet) without any given motive.

    16. 'I'll beat it out of you yet.'

      We are led to believe that the narrator's brother is threatening to kill Immaculate's unborn child (14), but on the next page it is mentioned that "the baby in the next room was hollering its head off and must have been screaming for quite some time"(15). The violence in the scene is aimed not at the unborn child, which took away the woman's teaching job at the school, but at her undying spirit (in fact, we realise that the child is already born). Immaculate is full of passion, her "wide animal-like"eyes pulse with "raw courage" (14), and this characteristic of hers awakens fury in Peter, who longs for his unattainable freedom. Immaculate, however, has stated that "she would never give that up" (14). The world she lives in is starved and full of suffering, but her spirit, hopeful for life, maybe love (I am assuming), will not be stifled.