Book: How do I talk about my Ordeal?
Author: Maxwell Perkins Kanemanyanga
Review by Paul Lothane
This work, How Do I talk about my Ordeal? follows on the heels of the author’s first book, Enemy of the State (2009). This new book reinforces the literary fecundity of the author, Maxwell Perkins Kanemanyanga.
has the penchant to produce works that are somewhat didactic, with
moralistic undertones. It is no surprise that this continues in this new
work, starting with the Introduction. This gratuitous, sometimes
irritating approach can be seen from when Gogo spouts the following to a
nurse in the very first story:
“But gogo tell me, what is wrong with our society today?” nurse Sibanda asked gogo maMoyo as they were waiting for the results.
it’s not easy. You children of today don’t listen to your elders
anymore. You say you went to school and us we know nothing. But look at
me; I have seen my grandchildren, something that you are failing to do.
You are dying young. Go to the cemeteries you will see what I am talking
about. Born 1980, died 2000, born 1981 died 2009, born 1985 died 2010.
During our time we learnt how to cook like our mothers but now you,
learn to drink like your fathers. The young men are like bulls. They
leave babies all over they go. The first born is in Bloemfontein, second
born in Eastern Cape, the third born in Polokwane all with different
mothers. How do you survive this disease? Your children grow up without
guidance, because they don’t know their fathers. Every day they are
introduced to a different man saying he is your father. A child needs a
moral compass. That means instilling a sense of right and wrong. The
moral compass for children is their parent’s behaviour. Unfortunately
for you children of today, family is no longer important and that is
very bad. By the time you will you realize this most of you will be
An ominous forecast. Yet despite her horrifying ordeal,
Maze the young lady violated in the opening story manages to go on with
life. As the aphorism points out “As they say the axe that cuts quickly
forgets but the tree that was cut will never forget.”
initial story, like others, goes on and on to the point of becoming
tedious. One gets the impression that perhaps this story should have
been further developed into something like a novella.
again, fine expressions intermittently come to the fore and are lavished
on us; the display of eclectic knowledge and references still
predominate; eg “She remembered one of the best statements from William
Shakespeare’s books and tears began to flow on her pretty face. “The
liquid drops of tears that you have shed shall come again, transformed
to orient pearl advantaging their loan with interest of ten times double
again of happiness.” And the likes of Martin Luther King Jnr are quoted
with relish too.
We have what comes close to true pathos in
the story “Beautiful Ghost” as a woman is abused and humiliated by her
husband. “One night she heard her husband arguing with another woman in
the next room. What else could she do anymore? Was it because she was
dying? But she had always been there for him. In the dawn of that same
night Janet passed away in the arms of her mother whilst, her husband
was sleeping in the arms of another woman. She died with a heavy painful
heart.” This is heart-rending.
Yet the story is a rather
disjointed one that can easily confuse, with the didactic fulminations
once again overdone, and the authorial intrusions sometimes jarring. The
author wants to make a point here, and certainly does so.
story, “Baby from the plastic” might have been a success, but once again
it is marred by the author’s penchant to go on and on -even including a
long discourse on football, Arsene Wenger and his regime at Arsenal. It
is clear the author loves football. But here in this context it comes
across as gratuitous, over-stretched and even boring.
large, this is an impressive work by Maxwell Kanemanyanga; his
commitment to his art, his principles (even if overdone to the extent of
marring his artistic level), and his love for general knowledge have to
Kanemanyanga started his literary career by
publishing two books of short stories. Many in the literary fraternity
will now reckon that his next step should be a novel or at least a
novella. In these days where when imaginative writing is thin on the
ground at grassroots level, one can not but wish Mr. Kanemanyanga all