Gappah

Gappah’s Bob Marley cover should go down in history as the most delightful few seconds in the history of African literature. Okay, maybe we are exaggerating, but still.

Gappah whose new novel The Book of Memory was recently released in the US did a moth.org podcast. It was posted a few days ago. In the piece titled “Birth of a Nation,” she narrates her personal experience in the months following Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

“I am from a very small African country called Zimbabwe,” she begins, “the big year of change in my country, the big year of change in my family, and the big year of change for me was 1980 when my country became independent.”

She goes on to relate scenes from the early days of independence and how it changed aspects of everyday life and changed beliefs and assumptions about the past.

Her voice is sweet and mellifluous. She peppers the story with funny anecdotes and ends it on an inspiring note. Everything about the story—the sound of her voice and the near perfect pace of the story itself make “Birth of a Nation” a truly beautiful few minutes.

In the middle of the story, Gappah breaks off to sing Bob Marley’s “Zimbabwe.”

“I have very vivid memories of that time,” says Gappah, ‘”around the time of independence there was so much music. Everyone was singing. Everybody was dancing. It was almost like you could actually touch the joy in the air. And the song that everybody was singing, if you’ll allow me to sing it is a song by Bob Marley called  Zimbabwe. Do you know it? (claps) then join in…”

She goes on to sing a line of the refrain,“Africa shall liberate Zimbabwe. Africa shall liberate Zimbabwe.”

It is a fleeting moment that powerfully conveys the uniquely intense sense of joy that one experiences in a moment as historic as a nation’s independence. We have all listened to Bob Marley’s “Zimbabwe” countless times, but there is something about hearing Gappah, a Zimbabwean who lived through the liberation of Zimbabwe, sing it. The song becomes meaningful in a whole new way.

Click here to listen to the podcast. It will make your mid-week fatigue disappear!

Tags: , , ,

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.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

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.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

On Cultural Intersectionality and Familial Love | Interview with Angela Ajayi, Winner of the 2017 PEN/ Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize

Angela 6 LARGE (1)

Two weeks ago, we announced that Angela Ajayi was one of the twelve writers who won the 2017 PEN/ Robert J. Dau […]

Read Kwame Dawes’ 13-Point Twitter “Memo to Poets”

unnamed

In the space of one month and one week, from February 6 to March 13, Emmy Award-winner and Prairie Schooner […]

Transition Magazine’s Latest Issue 122 Is a “White A$$holes” Response to Trump

Transition magazine has released its hotly awaited Issue 122 and it’s a confrontation with US president Donald Trump. Titled White […]

“Writing Africa Now” | A Johns Hopkins University Literature Class Interviews Masande Ntshanga

masande

Dr. Jeanne-Marie Jackson is a literature Professor at Johns Hopkins. In one of her literature courses dedicated to contemporary African […]

Dear Genevieve | Twelve Steps to Becoming a Writer (pt. 10) | by Pa Ikhide

These are really interesting times we live in. As a voracious reader who writes occasionally, I am often asked by […]

Brunel International Poetry Prize Unveils 2017 Shortlist of Ten

AfricanPoetryPrize920

Ten poets have been named on the 2017 shortlist of Brunel University’s International African Poetry Prize. The announcement was made […]