The whole of Yvonne Vera’s narrative production (five published novels and a number of short stories) is steeped in the history of her own country. Though faithful to historical facts, Vera choses to focus her attention on individual lives, giving voice, she says, to those who are not given voice by the official treatment of history. Never forgetting the Pre-Colonial past of Zimbabwe, from her first novel, Nehanda, to the fifth, The Stone Virgins, Vera makes her characters fight against the harsh social and cultural imprisonment of Colonialism as well as against the atavistic patterns of African culture. While she shows that women are predestined victims, overpowered as they are by hostile realities especially when they try to break their fetters, Vera creates also epitomic male characters. Especially in The Stone Virgins, the four agonistes, two sister and two men unknown one to the other, represent Zimbabwe’s predicament after Independence. The core of Vera’s research is how to remember and yet overcome the past. One of the two men, a Chimurenga former fighter, falls into the pit of violence and death, unable to accept the challenge of freedom and life; the other, an anthropologist and historian, directs all his efforts towards the future, including in the future of his country the imperative of the restoration of the past: the last word of The Stone Virgins is “deliverance”.
Yvonne Vera. Zimbabwe. History. Chimurenga. Deliverance.