Goethe — Institut Namibia latest ,Virtually Yours gathering will take place on Saturday, 14 August at 15h00 (CAT), featuring prize-winning Zimbabwean author, Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, who will discuss her latest novel, 'The History of Man' with other award-winning author and hostess, Zukiswa Wanner.
Set in an unnamed Southern African country, 'The History of Man' tells the story of Emil Coetzee who as a civil servant in his fifties washes his hands of blood when a ceasefire is announced and the colonial rule is over. The book explores his life that within context and in comparison to that of his parents is different in many ways.
"I am fascinated with history in general and, particularly, with how it informs and impacts our present. Therefore, my work tends to explore how personal, social and political histories shape our understanding, experience and sense of self, community, country and the world," said Ndlovu.
'The History of Man' follows 'The Theory of Flight' that is also set both in the colonial and postcolonial eras. Ndlovu said living in the post-colonial era and having experienced a lot around the world, she wrote The History of Man as a critique of the colonial narrative and the coloniser's favoured position.
"The colonial narrative has always seemed extremely limited to me, especially because it privileges the voice and the experience of the coloniser. I decided to write from the coloniser's perspective to show not only the limits but also the different kinds of violence that are the product of this way of ordering, seeing and experiencing the world," she said.
'The History of Man' is shortlisted for The Sunday Times/CNA Fiction Prize and 'The Theory
of Flight' won the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize in 2019. Ndlovu's short film,
'Graffiti', won several awards including the Silver Dhow at the Zanzibar International Film
Being from Zimbabwe, Ndlovu's novels are set in the same unnamed Southern African country for a reason. She explains how having experienced four name changes during its modern history, it made more sense to leave the country unnamed.
"More importantly, not naming the country allows the story to travel and transport itself so that while it is very much a story about a particular place, it is also, at the same time, a story that can take place anywhere, which, I hope, helps the reader engage and empathise more with what is happening within the story world," she said.
Asked about the relevance of her stories to readers in Namibia, the rest of Africa and the world at large, Ndlovu said that while the beauty of literature lies in its interpretation she hopes readers engage critically and creatively with the issues raised in the novel.
"It is important for the reader to engage with the ways in which Emil Coetzee was socialised to think about whiteness and maleness because the violence of this way of thinking and being is still very much with us in the present - we see it in the global rise of white supremacy and neo-Nazism in our 21st-century world," she said.
The Virtual Gatherings are held on Zoom and interested persons may register using this link and stand the chance of winning a copy.