A riveting and emotional portrait of abusive conditions in rural Zimbabwe during the 1920s, this novel follows the terrible misfortunes of a brave and likable young girl as she grows to womanhood. Chinongwa always has been told that her paternal grandfather was shot and beheaded in front of her father's eyes, but she can't be sure whether this story is real because it is so intertwined in her mind with fantastical tales of talking snakes and men buried alive with mice tied to their backs. At age nine, however, her own life becomes nightmare when, in exchange for food, she is given to a man older than her father, and at age 11 she has her first baby. Throughout her ordeal, Chinongwa is sustained by the natural beauty of the countryside and her hopes that better times lie ahead, but the story sadly foreshadows the plight of present-day Zimbabwe.
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adults Amai Chitsva Amaiguru aunt Baba Chitsva Baba Marehwa Baba Mashava baboons Bikita boys brother cattle chased Chenai child Chinongwa cooking hut cousin danga dare daughter decided dress everything eyes face father fear feel felt fight fire front gave girl give given gone guests happened Harare head headman headman's wife hear heard heart hens hostess hozi husband inside kneeless knew laughing leave legs listen look maiden married millet Miriam Makeba morning mortar and pestle Mother's Mother Muraswa Musiki n'anga Ndebele never Ngoni niece night pretended refused roora sadza Sarudzai seasons seen Sekuru Taguta Shamhu sister someone sorghum started stop sure Tafadzwa talk Tawa tears tell Tendai Tete Shorai things thought Tinashe told took totem ululating vahosi village voice wait walking Wangi wanted wash watch welcoming ceremony wives woman womb women wondered younger