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Uprooted by Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure

Firstly, happy Independence Day Zimbabwe. This day means different things to Zimbabweans across the globe because of our varied experiences. This week I decided to read this anthology written by a Zimbabwean poet carrying poetry to enlighten, empower and emancipate the displaced. I read the English translated version and I must say that I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read the chiKaranga (a language that I speak) version of the book. I spent most of my time in my head translating the words into the original language of the text.

UPROOTED is an anthology made up of about seventy poems which address and explore issues of displaced immigrants and refugees living in the diaspora. People who have been uprooted from their ‘natural’ habitats and placed somewhere else where they have to adjust, conform to the way of life. Some of the themes in this book are family, belonging, racism, community, and the writer also explores societal ills such as abuse (bullying in schools, domestic violence), unrealistic societal expectations, emancipation and identity.

What Vazhure is calling for in this body of work to those who have been displaced (literally and figuratively) is that they should hold on to their roots as much as they can. This puts into light the issue of community, a strong sense of community is crucial for any marginalized or displaced people. Even in that community where people relate to each other because e.g let’s say they are immigrants, there are issues of boundaries and belonging in that context. ‘Apparition’ is a poem that aptly puts this to the fore exploring the predicament of people living in the diaspora, of feeling like they do not belong in their home country and in their country of residence. Treated like chaff of grain in foreign lands and as apparitions in another. Also exploring boundaries is ‘Rat in the granary’ a funny poem about a friend from back home who overstays their welcome! They do say, a good visitor knows when to leave.

Vazhure also explores the dynamics of displaced families from how the partners relate to each other to how those who have children relate to their children. This book is a compounded effort to let the reader into the family set up of a family in the diaspora. In ‘Have You Heard,’ Vazhure takes us into the challenges of raising children in the diaspora. Our parents did not spare the rod (and now for most adults this is the only way they know how to ‘discipline’) yet as a parent that was raised that way, you find yourself in a foreign land where non-abusive and legally compliant methods have to be used. This poem tries to bridge the gap between the two ways, Vazhure encourages parents to nurture their children. ‘Using Each Other, sheds light into visa dependency and the abuse that is sometimes associated with relationships solely based on visa issues.

Here are some quotes from the book:

1. ‘Back home our own people see us as apparitions if you don’t have money, don’t bother returning.’ page 36

2. ‘Nature more, quit intransigence, we don’t do whips here with these few words, you have heard!’ page 52

3. ‘Who are these hunters, of loves and likes who live to please the masses?’ page 89

I think that most people living in the diaspora will resonate with this book and I highly recommend it to them. Sometimes we cannot find words for the struggles that we face and it is easier to deal with them after seeing how you feel or what you face reduced into text in a timely and understandable fashion. I am hoping to pencil in the chiKaranga version, ‘Zvadzugwa Musango’ onto my 2022 reading list, perhaps I will enjoy it more.


Author’s Profile

Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure is a Zimbabwean writer living in the United Kingdom. She writes poetry and prose. She is the author of a novel Painting A Mirage (2020), Zvadzugwa Musango (2020) and it English translated version, Uprooted (2020). She is also the editor of Turquoise Dreams: An anthology of short stories by Zimbabwean women (you can read my review here). Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure is also the founder of Carnelian Heart Publishing Ltd.


Book Details

Title: UPROOTED: Poetry to enlighten, empower and emancipate the displaced

Author: Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure

Genre: Poetry

Pages: 150

Publisher: Carnelian Heart Publishing Ltd. (2020)

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