Writings of the general word's body

Monday, June 04, 2007

New Read

Petina Gappah's award winning story, Oration for a Dead Hero, is published in the current issue of Prospect Magazine.

The widow of a powerful man thinks back on her marriage. She schemes to secure herself a future and to get the better of the government and her stepsons, in a story that should give Mugabe the pause. In this excerpt, the widow-narrator remembers her late husband's odd ways....

“I named the first child Rwauya, meaning ‘death has come,’ and the second Muchagura, to mean ‘you shall repent,’ and the last Muchakundwa, ‘you shall be defeated.’ They are messages for the white oppressors, warning signs to the white man.”

Thus had he stamped his patriotism on his children, leaving them with names that could mean nothing to the intended recipient of the messages, to the white man who chose to live in ignorance of native tongues. The white man has been conquered now, twice over, first in the matter of government, and now in the matter of the land that has been repossessed, but the children remain with their ominous names. I got to know them well because I replaced their mother after their father divorced her.

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