They say that I have Schizophrenia. Delusions. Demented dreams that detach me from reality.

“Skitso who?”

In my culture, there is no such thing. You are either bewitched or you are blessed. Ensnared by sinister or sacred spirits.

He looks at me like I am a stray dog. Filthy. Rabid. Foaming at the mouth. He has decided that I am mad. “Unhinged” he says. This old Caucasian man they call an expert. He tells them to cut my hair. To make me presentable. Of course, he can’t understand. Won’t comprehend that my hair talks to my ancestors. A multitude of voices writhing from my head. A supernatural message in every twisted strand.

His thinning wisps of limp blonde hair lie flat against his head in shame. He cannot hear the voices from the Great Beyond. My hair stands at attention. Poised and ready to receive orders. Ten thousand antennas so I don’t miss a word.

I gnash my teeth at the orderlies who dare to touch a sacred vessel. “It is my hair. My birthright!”

For better and for worse, my gift and my curse.



Post image by raymondclarkeimages via Flickr

About the Author:

Tendai Machingaidze was born in 1982 in Harare, Zimbabwe. She holds degrees from Syracuse University and Southwestern Seminary. Her short stories have been published by Weaver Press Zimbabwe, Africa Book Club, Munyori Literary Journal, The Kalahari Review, Open Road Review, and Lawino. Tendai’s debut novel, “Acacia,” was published by African Perspectives Publishing in 2014.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “My Hair Talks to My Ancestors | by Tendai Machingaidze | African Flash Fiction” Subscribe

  1. Eugene Odogwu 2015/09/28 at 4:00 am #

    Stories like this enhance my appreciation for Flash fiction. The ability to tell a whole tale in just a few words, akin to paintings, leaves me with equal parts envy and awe.

    Now the story! Amazing. The possibilities, the implications… I would definitely love to explore the world of this story more. Ten thousand antennas? I can only imagine the kinds of messages being received.

  2. Chimnomso 2015/10/13 at 1:19 am #

    beautiful, beautiful…

  3. Iheme Nzube 2015/11/12 at 2:45 pm #

    Tendai, you got me stood on attention. But I have this to say to you: “In my culture, there is no such thing. You are either bewitched or…”

  4. Ezeani Chucks 2016/01/14 at 1:42 pm #

    Wow. Permit me to say that again. Wow. Just wow. I could read this a million times and it’d appear fresh with each read.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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