November 25, 2008
Critical Book Review
Zenzele: A Letter For My Daughter
By J. Nozipo Maraire
The novel Zenzele is a novel that does more than tell a poignant story. The novel informs the reader about what it means to be an African. The story is told as a letter from a mother, Amai Zenzele, to her daughter Zenzele. From the mother's perspective we see many different lessons that Zenzele's mother tries to teach her daughter. Amai Zenzele recollects several anecdotes from her past to inform and teach her daughter several words of wisdom. These life lessons include what it means to be an African abroad, what it means to be a strong woman, and also what it means to be a revolutionary. There is a constant struggle between Amai Zenzele and her daughter due to the mother's traditionalist and misunderstanding of the changing world around her, while the daughter having grown up in the present time, charges full force into the future unafraid of what may come.
The novel also teaches those unfamiliar with Zimbabwean culture to appreciate African ideals, and the role that Africans play in global politics and international relations. Through Amai Zenzele's stories from her past, we are able to see Africans in a new light.
One of the main lessons to be learned is that of the role that African women play in African society, as well as global society. For the most part, African women were mainly subject to living in patriarchal conditions. This is best shown in the anecdote in the ninth chapter in which Amai Zenzele's cousin Tinawo's occupation is working as a maid for a while general. She is in charge of cooking and cleaning the house, under the direction of a white family. The...