New Zimbabwean Folktales Book Causes Stir In Norway

A new chapter has been opened in the life of Victoria Chimhutu and the world of book writing after her newly published book “The Hare gets married and other stories” gets a fair share of the Norwegian market barely a few months after publication.

The book, originally published in the Shona language late last year was well received in the diaspora, which led to it being carefully translated into various languages which includes English and Norwegian due to its demand.

“The book was well-received especially in Norway and the United States. At the official book launch in Bergen, Norway on 17 February this year, it was a full-house, something which I didn’t expect as a first-time author. People from different walks of life came to grace the occasion and I sold and signed a lot of copies especially the English and Norwegian version of the book. There are a couple of folktales which have become so popular in the schools and kindergartens,

“I have been invited to storytelling sessions in kindergartens, schools and libraries and the book is being received well “, said Victoria.

Victoria said the book is aimed at celebrating restoring the glamour of African folktale culture which seems to be slowly diminishing

“This book is inspired by folktales that my grandmother narrated to me when I was a child. Growing up in rural Zimbabwe, we would sit around the fire in our mud hut after dinner and listen to my grandmother’s storytelling long into the night,

“I have however noticed that due to development and technological advancement, the culture of storytelling is slowly becoming elusive. Gone are the days when families use to sit around the fire listening to traditional stories,

“After having written the book, my next inspiration was to share my culture with the whole world. My first version of this book was written in my mother language, Shona. However, this could only be read by Zimbabweans. So, after I had written in Shona, I realized that there was a need to expand my audience by translating it into English thus reaching a much wider and more international audience. The book is also translated into Norwegian, being influenced by the author’s current country of residence”, said Victoria.

The folktales featured in the book are didactic in nature, thus they often end up depicting important life lessons thereby shaping the society’s moral fabric in a unique way.

According to the promising author, she feels obliged and motivated to contribute towards preserving native cultures in the advent of growing civilization

“These have been replaced by televisions, computers and mobile telephones among other modern gadgets. These new developments therefore inspired me and motivated me to document and preserve the culture of storytelling and traditional wisdom from the society that I grew up as part of. This prompted me in writing “The Hare Gets Married and Other Tales,

“For me it was motivating and inspiring to make sure that this wisdom is passed on to the next generations”, she said.

The book is a collection of 9 different folktales and features themes like traditional Zimbabwean marital procedures, taking care of others, cooperating with others working together, helping others, being compassionate and kindness among other themes. The theme of Ubuntu is central in the book – more often readers are inspired to co-exist as a society and not as individual thus reinforcing the Ubuntu spirit.

Albeit the success the book has accrued so far, the writing of the book came with its own challenges as she had to go through a tedious process of translating and gatekeeping to make sure the essence of the book is not lost along the way.

“It did not take me a very long time to write the Shona version of the book. I was simply reminiscing and putting down the folktales as I had heard them but then trying to re-write them in English was a cumbersome task. When translating, there are certain phrases like idioms which can be particularly impossible to translate,

“Therefore, the exact meaning can be lost in translation but I did my best to keep the English version as close as possible to the Shona one. The same challenge was also faced when the book was translated to Norwegian. I had to sit for many hours with my Norwegian translator deliberating on how best to put across certain phrases so that the same meaning is maintained,

“I also took some time to imagine the 25 images which are included in this book. It was a lot of to-and-fro between me and the illustrator as we adjusted the images to suit what I was imagining in each and every scene in the stories. This book being my first published book, it took me some time before I secured a publishing deal. The writing industry is not an easy one and trying to find a publisher for your first work can be difficult – publishers normally jump in for the big already-known names which is less risky than taking in a new kid on the block”, she said.

The performance of the new folktale collection book by Victoria in the international platform reminded world that the phenomenon of folktale is still significant and relevant, as yours truly, Hare gets married and Baboon son acting as the go between Called (Dombo in Shona) responsible for all the negotiations, the traditional ‘wild animal metaphor’ has reaffirmed the importance of folktales not only in the Zimbabwean culture, but Africa as a whole.

The book will soon hit the Zimbabwean bookshelves and it is currently found on Formats: Hardcover, Softcover and e-book

Can be ordered directly from my website: http://www.victoriachimhutu.com/

Can also be ordered from Xlibris: http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-001108919/The-Hare-Gets-Married-and-Other-Tales.aspx

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hare-Gets-Married-Other-Tales/dp/152455040X

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