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A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, this novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women’s rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision. Through its deft negotiation of race, class, gender and cultural change, it dramatizes the ‘nervousness’ of the ‘postcolonial’ conditions that bedevil us still. In Tambu and the women of her family, we African women see ourselves, whether at home or displaced, doing daily battle with our changing world with a mixture of tenacity, bewilderment and grace.
the one who is my father's womb-sister, older than him but younger than Babamukuru, came first, her husband behind the wheel of a gallant if rickety old Austin. They hooted long and loud. We waved and shouted and danced. Then came Babamukuru, his car large and impressive, all sparkling metal and polished dark green. It was too much for me. I could have clambered on to the bonnet but, with Shupi in my arms, had to be content with a song: 'Mauya, mauya. Mauya, mauya. Mauya, Babamukuru!' Netsai
very little, of their effect. Had I entered from the driveway, through the verandah and the front door, as visitors whom it was necessary to impress would enter, the taste and muted elegance of that room would have taken my breath away. As it was, having seen the kitchen, and the dining-room, which was much smarter than the kitchen, with shiny new linoleum covering every square inch of floor and so expertly laid that the seams between the strips were practically invisible, I was a little better
saying?' We did not have a comfortable ride home that afternoon because Babamukuru made it very clear to Nyasha, at angry length, that she should not expect to ride in his car if she could not be polite to his colleagues. 'What will people say of me when my daughter behaves like that?' he demanded. Nyasha remained silent. The bad feeling sat down with us at the dinner table. Nyasha had forgotten it, or was ignoring it. She had been impressed by the fervour of the sermon but questioned Maiguru on
the sofa. 'Fool!' snorted Lucia, looming over him, arms akimbo. 'Fool!' And she whirled to face Babamukuru, so that now her left eye glittered. 'Look at him, Babamukuru! Look at him trying to hide because now I am here.' Takesure looked braver when he had only Lucia's back to contend with, but his reprieve was brief. 'If you have an issue with me,' Lucia advised him, 'stand up and let us sort it out plainly.' In two strides she was beside him and, securing an ear between each finger and thumb,
sons enough to fill a kraal, all big, strong, hardworking men. And me, I was beautiful in those days,' her eyes twinkling at me so that I was ashamed of examining her so closely to find the woman she described. Why did she tell me this? She was not beautiful now, but I loved her, so I was ashamed that she saw me search for the lost beauty. 'I wasn't always this old, with wrinkles and grey hair, without teeth. At one time I was as small and pretty and plump as you, and when I grew into a woman I