Then a Wind Blow is a novel by Zambian-born author of Zimbabwean descent Kay Powell. The novel explores the effects of war on women. It asks us to look away from images of war as the expression of male heroism in order to hear women tell the bitter truths about war.
Then a Wind Blew traces the lives of three women caught up in the war for Zimbabwe’s independence. Nyanye Maseka is a guerrilla fighter based in a Mozambican camp. Beth Lytton is a nun at nearby St Anselm mission. Susan Haig is the wife of the manager of Isakata mine. The novel is about how their worlds collide during the final months of the war. The disruption brought about by the clash between government forces and guerrilla militias creates a space where life is uncertain and the typical bonds that tie communities are broken. In the midst of this chaos, Nyanye, Beth, and Susan find themselves in situations where they are determined to assert their humanity in spite of their subjection to violent forces. Powell gives a multi-faceted view to the war through the lives of these women who come from different but interconnected worlds.
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Then a Wind Blew is set in the final months of the war in Rhodesia, before it became Zimbabwe, and the story unfolds through the voices of three women. Susan Haig, a white settler, has lost one son in the war and seen her other son declared ‘unfit for duty’. Nyanye Maseka has fled with her sister to a guerrilla camp in Mozambique, her home village destroyed, her mother missing. Beth Lytton is a nun in a church mission in an African Reserve, watching her adopted country tear itself apart. The three women have nothing in common. Yet the events of war conspire to draw them into each other’s lives in a way that none of them could have imagined. This absorbing and sensitive novel develops and intertwines their stories, showing us the ugliness of war for women caught up in it and reminding us that, in the end, we all depend on each other.
Kay Powell was born in Zambia and grew up in Rhodesia. In 1968 she went to university in the UK and became a social worker, based in the Welsh valleys. She returned to Rhodesia for a few years in the 1970s, and her two daughters were born there. After a stint at Faber & Faber, in London, she returned to Zimbabwe after it became independent, first working for Macmillan, and then co-founding Quest Publishing. She emigrated to England in 1988, where she currently lives with her husband, also a novelist (www.jim-powell.net). In 2007, her book on the use of English in the workplace, What Not To Write, was published by Talisman, Singapore; now in its 9th edition, over 38,000 copies had been sold.