Bones by Chenjerai Hove

Bones by Chenjerai Hove

Year of Publication: 1988

Genre: Fiction

At only 112 pages long, Chenjerai Hove’s Bones is by no means small in context or theme. Rather, it is a complex story often looking concurrently into the future and the present. Hove’s style of writing is outstanding and unique in its own right: poetic in nature and employs the traditional Shona way of telling a story. In fact, the narrative is more akin to telling children a story in the night-time gathered around fire. In that way, every child listening to the storyteller has a chance of both listening to the story and contributing to it.

Bones tells the story of a Zimbabwean farm-worker, Marita, looking for his only son who has gone on to fight in the Zimbabwean War of Liberation as a freedom fighter. Marita is a strong and courageous woman, a farm worker who promises herself to be happy when she finds her son, the freedom fighter:

“MARITA, what will you do if you find your son?

Child, how can you ask me such a question

Chokwadi, I want to know what you will do when you find your son.

I will be happy.

Just that?

Yes. Just that. The things that trouble my heart will go away. I will be happy.” p43

Life on the farm, the farm on which hard-working women like Marita work, is gloomy and unpleasant because Manyepo slaves them into working, and screams at them.

“Manyepo was here, fuming as if the villagers had annoyed him by coming to offer their sweat to him. He growled like a lion with little ones… Did someone say I was opening a refugee camp? … People must learn to work, not to loiter around as if waiting for manna from heaven.”  p39

With the future spelt clear before us, the question is has Robert Mugabe achieved for Zimbabwe what the freedom fighters stood for in the cause of the liberation war. Hove’s Bones could be a fast read but hugely demands patience to run through till the last page.

First published in 1988 by Baobab Books, Hove’s Bones won the 1989 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa.


6 Responses to Bones by Chenjerai Hove

  1. winstonsdad says:

    sometimes short novels give over more than epic books this looks like one to me Geosi ,all the best stu


  2. I believe Bones is a powerful statement on the political situation in Zimbabwe, even now.


  3. zibilee says:

    This does sound like a rather interesting read, and one that I would enjoy. Glad to have had your honest and very thoughtful opinion on this one!


  4. I read Hove’s Shadows and I liked it in part. However, like most stories coming from Zimbabwe (and I’ve said a lot about this) there should be a clear distinction between the War for Liberation and the current events. If you say that based on current events the war for Liberation was useless and worthless, you aren’t being smart enough. Most have confused this. Will they have preferred to be slaves then? Or have the power now to do whatever they want? This kind of confusion that is carried through their works is putting me off. Then we can equally say that per the diseases and despotism common in Africa, it would have been better that we allow the slave trade and colonialism to exist.

    Now a black man can walk anywhere in South Africa. If the black government fails to provide the needs for the people or do what they expect him to do, it doesn’t mean that fighting against apartheid wasn’t worth it.


  5. Michael Mutoda says:

    Bones is a great book.


  6. Pontso says:

    Bravo!! On ‘how an ancester is born’ Mail & Guardian


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