28 February 2018

Zimbabwe: Child Abuse Novel Adapted Into Film

Zimbabwean writer Catherine Magodo Mutukwa is raising the voice of abused girl children louder with her latest novel which has been adapted into a feature film.

Mutukwa's suspenseful novel "Broken Vessel", self-published late last year, touched the hearts of local film producers Fidelis Zimanga and Ernest Nyatanga who felt that the only honour they could give to the author for being the voice of voiceless was to turn the written story into a film of the same title. The book is now available on Amazon.

For Mutukwa, such recognition of her work is what she has been looking for and will surely keep her going.

"I feel humbled and honoured at the same time. As a writer, it is one of the things you look out for, having your hard work appreciated. I am grateful that Fidelis Zimanga and Ernest Nyatanga awarded me with this highest honour," she told Bookshelf from her base in South Africa.

Mutukwa said the novel will be available in Zimbabwe soon so that everyone will have access to it.

In a recent online interview, the film producers said the film is shot in rural Marirangwe and features talented actors and actresses such as Stella January while Munashe Chitsiga is the director. A local NGO Shamwari Yemwanasikana has been very supportive in the project.

"Broken Vessel" adds ammunition to the fight against sexual abuse of the girl child. The story, according to the author, is based on real life experience of Vimbai (not her real name) who suffers abuse at an early age and has her academic dream shattered.

The written story starts with an emphatic portrayal of an exhausted young woman. Anticipation is somehow built in the reader by the withholding of the main character's name or her background.

The author brings about the conflict between her exhaustion ('slavery') and her dream (to be at school). As the fast-paced drama unfolds and more details manifest you cannot help but sympathize with this young woman.

Woman-to-woman hostility (Vimbai versus her aunt for whom she is working as house maid/general helper) is expertly delivered in an English language which occasionally turns poetic and the Shona language in some portions of the story brings the local reader close to the sad experience. Vimbai, who passed her Grade Seven, comes to stay with her stoical aunt to raise her own school fees and help the family back home. Yet there is no serenity for the gifted but poor young girl.

Ropafadzo Mapimhidze who edited "Broken Vessel" comments in the introduction to the book, "There is need for more NGOs to deal with this problem because I believe it is difficult to report a close family who is probably a breadwinner.

With a struggling economy, lack of employment, poverty, hunger, traditional practices like chiramu, cultural norms have made women and girls more vulnerable to sexual abuse more than ever before. There are very few services at community level for survivors to seek help from even though it is vital that they get medical attention within 72 hours to mitigate spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases."

This is not the first time that Mutukwa has produced a work that makes the reader feel her words and begin to rethink about certain issues which society seem to have no time for. Her poetry collection "Rendition of the Soul" (2017) is packed with what Bookshelf once described as "words that sing, feelings that speak".

Catherine Magodo Mutukwa lives in South Africa but connects with home through her writing. Last year, she told Bookshelf that it is her mission and passion to bring awareness and to empower women and girl children. She has published works such as "Back To The Hills" (2011, Diaspora Publishers), "Reflections" (2013, Penfeatherzmedia), "Silent Cries/The Violated Speak" (Penfeatherzmedia, 2015). She has contributed poems in various anthologies such as "We Are One: With or Without" (2013, Diaspora Publishers), "Black Stars: The Beginning" (2014, Penfeatherzmedia), "Life" (2015, Penfeatherzmedia) and "Zimbolicious Poetry" (2016, Royalty Publishing, US).

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