A Shattering of silence, by Farida Karodia
Farida Karodia's fast-moving novel 'A Shattering of silence' undermines traditional views of the role of women and the nature of resistance. It is a spirited response to the brutalising effects of war.
It is stiflingly hot on the plane. The flight from Johannesburg to Maputo in Mozambique is packed and it is obvious from the amount of carry-on baggage that most of the passengers are affluent residents returning home from a shopping spree in South Africa. While Sue, the young American woman in the seat next to me, nods off, my face is pressed to the window as I search for familiar images on the landscape below. But I have been gone for too long and much has changed. In 1972, pursued by Portuguese government forces and the colonial secret police - the PIDE, or Policia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado - I fled Mozambique. Had it not been for the assistance of the guerrillas, I might not have escaped alive. Now, after more than thirty years of living abroad, I am returning to revisit my past and I hope that friends will remember me. Time, of course, has wrought changes in my appearance. I now wear glasses and the lines around my eyes and mouth have deepened. There is a worn, leathery look about my face: years in the hot African sun have finally taken their toll. My hair is still blonde, but if the light hits it at a certain angle, the grey is discernible. It is long, almost as long as my mother's used to be, and like her I wear mine off my face, piled on the top of my head in a bun. My friend Eloise in London chastises me for not paying attention to the men she introduces me to. But I prefer being single. Commitment and marriage were never an option because there just wasn't enough time in my hectic schedule for a personal life. I'm as slender as I was when I left Mozambique. Eloise describes me as lean and sinewy'. She says that my choice of wardrobe - usually trousers - enhances my notion that spinsterhood is the ideal. I, however, have never been overly concerned about the way I am perceived. I'm quite comfortable and confident about being my own person. Sue stirs next to me, yawns and sits up. Tt's so hot in here,' she complains as she reaches for the in-flight magazine and fans herself with it. 'Faith, don't forget to contact me. Okay?' I nod absently. Sue told me earlier that this was her first trip to Africa and that she'd be working with an aid agency in Mozambique. Young, fresh-faced and excited about her adventure, she said she couldn't wait to get there. Clearly she has no idea what she's letting herself in for. Earlier I explained my connection to Mozambique. Obviously poorly briefed, she knows very little about the history or the politics of this country. I, too, was just as naive about my host country when I left Mozambique and went to England for the first time. I told her as much as I could in the time we had together on the flight, explaining that in Africa issues are rarely simple and frequently open to misinterpretation; that too often understanding by Western governments of the complicated issues that simmer on this continent is fairly narrow. I reminded her that concepts about Africa are based on Western standards and limited to the Western experience of social, cultural and political structures, which often have little bearing on the reality of life for the people here. I discovered that she knew nothing about the issues that dominated the African continent as a whole, and Mozambique in particular. [...]
This is an excerpt from the novel 'A Shattering of silence', by Farida Karodia.
Title: A Shattering of silence
Author: Farida Karodia
Publisher: The Penguin Group (SA)
Cape Town, South Africa 2010
ISBN 9780143026471 / ISBN 978-0-14-302647-1
Softcover, 15 x 21 cm, 272 pages
Karodia, Farida im Namibiana-Buchangebot
"A Shattering of Silence" charts the protagonist's quest to find a place for herself in war-torn Mozambique, where she is caught between the white colonials and the local resistance.