Life goes on in Zim, says Chimombe

15 June 2009

In spite of the political and economic crisis, life is going on in Zimbabwe, and not every person living comfortably is corrupt or government-connected.

So says Shumi Chimombe, web editor at UCT's Communication and Marketing Department, who obtained her Master's in Creative Writing on 12 June.

For her dissertation, Chimombe has written a novel on family life in Zimbabwe in 2007, looking at how people were living in those challenging times.

"Not every Zimbabwean is a border-jumper," she emphasises.

"Families are still hosting celebrations, people are still falling in love, getting married, cheating on each other, getting divorced. Troubles are there but people are getting on with their lives, and doing the best they can under difficult conditions," she says.

As a Zimbabwean who has lived in South Africa for the past eight years, Chimombe has always been annoyed by people with distorted ideas on what it is like in her home country during the crisis.

"Some people think Zimbabwe is a wasteland where not even the airports work anymore, and they ask me the most bizarre questions," she explained.

She said many people there have persevered and are living relatively normal lifestyles under the circumstances.

The dissertation - her first full-length novel (she has published three children's books with Cambridge University Press) - is a dream come true.

For 35 years she has been trying to pen it, but life got in the way.

"You can spend your whole life wanting to write a book and not write one."

Doing the course was the only way she could manage as, in addition to learning about structure, it required her to be disciplined and meet deadlines.

"It is also very helpful to have professional guidance in the form of a supervisor." (Chimombe's supervisor was Ron Irwin.)

"It was very taxing," she says of studying while having a full-time job.

"You work the whole day, and then when you go home, instead of stretching yourself out and watching Isidingo, you need to at least write 500 words."

Chimombe is putting the final touches to her book and looking for a publisher before starting on the next one.

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