We have started accepting submissions in Shona, and our first story is “MaBlack Boots” by Tendai Huchu, author of the novel The Hairdresser of Harare (Weaver Press/Freight Books). Tendai Huchu was born in 1982 in Bindura, Zimbabwe. He attended Churchill High School in Harare and from there went to the University of Zimbabwe to study a degree in Mining Engineering. He dropped out in the middle of the first semester, found work briefly in a casino and from there drifted from one job to the next. Four years later he returned to university and is now a Podiatrist living in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“MaBlack Boots” is a satiric short story which renders a day in the life of Zuze, a police man who has worked for both the Rhodesian and Zimbabwean governments. When the action takes place, he is part of a team of security forces called to quell a riot in downtown Harare, and through Zuze’s eyes, we see the unfolding chaos which leaves many demonstrators injured. Zuze lets us in on the internal conflict of doing work he doesn’t enjoy, yet he has to keep on doing it because that’s the only work he has experience in, and it is his only means to support his family. By the time we meet the family, we see in Zuze an ordinary man working to keep his family afloat in a country where the basics of life sustenance have dwindled.
The story is in Shona, so ikozvino tokupai nzwisa:
Pandakasvika paMorris Depot, ndakaona vakomana vachimhanya-mhanya kunge nyika yava kuguma nemoto weSodhomu. Misindo yavo yaiti dhi, dhi, dhi patara senge vane nyundo kunze kwetsoka.
“Zuze, mhanya-mhanya, mdara. Chaputika mudhorobha,” ndiNdlovu uyo aindidana. Ndakaona anga akapfeka riot yake, full gear chaiyo.
“Uthini mfowethu?” Ndakapindura nechiNdevere nekuti ndakambenge ndagariswa kwaBurawayo nyika payakawana kuzvitonga kuzere.
“Mfowethu, mfowethu chiiko? Chatsva muguta, Zuze, Sajeni vati munhu wese ngaapinde mugear.”