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The Mysterious Stone Kingdom of the Great Zimbabwe

By MRREESE

Zimbabwe is home to one of the most stunning historical monuments in Africa – the monument of the Great Zimbabwe.  Built 900 years ago, the massive stone structures of the Great Zimbabwe create a breathtaking view, leaving visitors to wonder about the historical events that transpired many centuries ago. How were these massive stone structures built? What kind of society lived here? Why was such an impressive and durable structure ultimately abandoned?

The name ‘Zimbabwe’ is an anglicized form of an African word meaning ‘stone houses’, for the ruins of the Great Zimbabwe are comprised of several stone walls, monuments, and buildings built mainly of granite. The structures were created using a method called dry stonewalling, which requires a high level of masonry expertise. The internal structure contains many passageways and enclosures. It spans almost 1800 acres of the southeastern area of the country of Zimbabwe. While it may seem that the structure was named after the country, it is actually the other way around. 

[Continue reading article at Ancient Origins.]

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African Fiction Writers You Should Know

1. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (The Whispering Trees)
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, born in Jos, Nigeria, writes prose, poetry and drama. His debut collection of short stories The Whispering Trees, published by Paressia, was longlisted for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for African Literature, and the title story shortlisted for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. His was the only story published on the continent to be shortlisted for the Caine Prize that year. He is the arts editor at the Abuja-based Sunday Trust. He was a mentor on the 2013 Writivism programme, facilitated the Abuja Writivism workshop in 2014 and judged the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize. He also facilitated the Caine Short Story surgery at the 2014 Port Harcourt Book Festival.

2. Chika Unigwe (Night Dancer)
Chika Unigwe, born in Enugu, Nigeria, writes fiction in English and Dutch. She was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2003 and won the BBC Short Story competition and the Commonwealth Short Story competition in 2004. Her debut novel De Feniks, written in Dutch and published in 2005, was shortlisted for the Vrouw en Kultuur debuutprijs prize. It was later published in Nigeria by Farafina Publishers in 2007 as The Phoenix. In 2009, her novel On Black Sisters’ Street was published by Jonathan Cape and won the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2012. 

3. Dilman Dila (A Killing in the Sun)
Dilman Dila, born in Tororo, Uganda, writes fiction and makes films. He was longlisted for the Short Story Day Africa prize in 2013 and 2014, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story prize in 2013 for A Killing in the Sun, and nominated for the 2008 Million Writers Awards. He has also been longlisted for the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition for Toilets are for Something Fishy. His film Felista’s Fables has won and been nominated for various awards, from the Uganda Film Festival awards to the Africa Movie Academy Awards and the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards. His short story collection A Killing in the Sun was published in 2014 by Black Letter Media. His novella Cranes Crest at Sunset was published by Storymoja in 2013 andThe Terminal Move by Fox and Raven Publishing also in 2013.

4. Emmanuel Sigauke (Mukoma’s Marriage and other stories)
Emmanuel Sigauke, born in Zimbabwe writes fiction and poetry. He teaches English at Cosumnes River College and Creative Writing at University of Carlifornia Davis. His work has appeared in Horizon, The Pedestal, NR Review, African Writing Online, StoryTime, Tsotso, The Rattle Review, and Arts Initiates, among others. He edits Tule Review, Cosumnes River Journal, and Poetry Now and founded Munyori Literary Journal. Mukoma’s Marriage and other stories, published in 2014, is his first collection of short stories.

6. Melissa Kiguwa (Reveries of Longing)
Melissa Kiguwa describes herself as “an artist, a daughter, and a radical feminist.” Her debut collection of poetry, Reveries of Longing, was published in 2014 by African Perspectives. She was long-listed for the 2014 Writivism Short story prize for the story The Wound of Shrinking. She now studies at the London School of Economics.

5. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Kintu)
Jennifer Makumbi, born in Uganda is a novelist and short story writer. She won the inaugural Kwani? Manuscript prize in 2013. Kwani Trust went on to publish the novel Kintu in 2014. In the same year, she won the Commonwealth short story prize with Let us Tell This Story Properly. Her other short fiction has been published by African Writing Online, Granta, Moss Side Stories, among others. She studied at Manchester Metropolitan University and Lancaster University for her Masters and Doctoral degrees respectively.

9. Zukiswa Wanner (London Cape Town Joburg)
Zukiswa Wanner, born in Zambia to a South African father and a Zimbabwean mother, is a writer. Her debut novel, The Madams, was shortlisted for the K. Sello Duiker Award in 2007. It was followed by Behind Every Successful Man, published by Kwela in 2008, Men of the South, also by the same publisher in 2010. Men of the South was shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her latest novel, London Cape Town Joburg, was published by Kwela in 2014. She was named one of the Hay Festival’s Africa39 authors. She sits on the Writivism Board of Trustees and started the ReadSA initiative to encourage South Africans to read African books.

7. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (Shadows)
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, born in Zimbabwe, is a fiction writer. Her debut novella and collection of short stories was published by Kwela in 2013. Her stories have appeared in various publications, including the 2010 Caine Prize Anthology and African Roar. She won the 2009 Yvonne Vera Award and the Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Fiction with Shadows. She is currently a Maytag Fellow at the MFA Creative Writing Programme at the University of Iowa and one of the 39 writers named by the Hay Festival as potential influences on future African Literature.

8. Yewande Omotoso (Bom Boy)
Yewande Omotoso, born in Barbados to a Nigerian father and a West Indian mother, is a writer and an architect. Her debut novel Bom Boy, published in 2011 by Modjaji Books, won the 2012 South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author, was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize in South Africa as well as the M-Net Literary Awards 2012, and was the runner-up for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature. (source)

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Danai Jekesai Gurira is a Zimbabwean-American actress and playwright. She is best known for her role as Michonne on the AMC drama series The Walking Dead.Gurira was born in Grinnell, Iowa and was raised there until December 1983, when she moved with her family to Harare, Zimbabwe. She returned to the United States at age 19 to study at Macalester College. She earned her MFA at New York University.

Us Weekly:

Danai Gurira fills Us in on 25 things you may not have known.

The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira, 36, fills Us Weekly in on 25 things you may not have known.

1. I was born in Iowa and raised in Zimbabwe

2. Surprisingly, I don’t watch horror movies since I don’t enjoy being scared.

3. My favorite dish to make is my famous “Fourth of July” lamb and goat-cheese burgers.

4. I met Nina Simone when I was 15. She visited Zimbabwe.

5. I’ve been trying to give up added sugar. It’s just so painful.

6. My first play was in seventh grade, called My Uncle Grey Bhonzo. I was the title role.

7. I love a good, traditional English breakfast. Grilled tomato and all.

8. My favorite stage role I’ve played is Isabella in Measure for Measure.

9. I love all of my zombie kills equally!

10. The best thing about shooting The Walking Dead in Georgia is the seclusion. 

11. I really don’t like BBQ, but Fox Bros. in Atlanta is ridiculously good.

12. My first pet was a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix named Ace. She loved to chase cars — and thus her demise.

13. I live off of Jillian Michaels’ DVDs. She kicks my butt.

14. I don’t do coffee. Ever. It gives me the jitters.

15. If I could have dinner with someone who’s no longer with us, it would be Wangari Maathai or Nelson Mandela.

16. My new rescue dog is just a 15-pound gangsta.

17. If I could have one special power, it would be the ability to fly.

18. New York will always be my city. I go to this hole-in-the-wall place called Cafe Himalaya for astounding Tibetan food.

19. My favorite TV shows are Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Modern Family, and Veep.

20. I loved Breaking Bad. My dad’s a chemistry professor and Walter White reminded me of him, minus the bad bits.

21. Tennis is the only sport I crave to watch. I love it.

22. Familiar, the new play I wrote, opens in January. It’s inspired by my mom’s family. I’m kind of scared about their reaction!

23. I dig a great musical or Bollywood flick.

24. I’m an avid swimmer. I used to compete as a kid and hated to lose.

25. I have a very loud speaking voice. My friends in Zimbabwe call me “Megaphone.”

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Ilan Godfrey: Sanctuary of Exile (Johannesberg)

*I really appreciate how the the photographer found human moments of tenderness and introspection. Rather the foregrounding a claustrophobic sense of the setting, the use of light and colour foreground moments of extreme beauty within the lives being lived. 

Artist Statement: […] Desperate people feeling war-ravaged contries, violence and economic hardship across Africa has resulted in people finding refuge in South Africa. Estimates put the number of illegal immigrants in the country between two and eight. […] The Central Methodist Chruch in Johannesberg has become a sanctuary for Zimbabwean Refugees. For the past four years the Church has opened its doors allowing hundreds to settle in its halls, corridors and stairwells. Although the church has provided a safe haven for refugees, it is strugglin to cope with the enormity of the circumstances. […] This body of work reflects the ongoing struggle of a people standing together to create their own community of survival and strength despite the circumstances. 

"Academic Diaspora" by Nicole Nomsa Moyo.

When Africans began going to Europe, America and other foreign countries to further their tertiary education, many were sent in the hopes that they’d come back and use those skills to contribute to the upliftment of their communities. Whilst some returned, others remained abroad for one reason or another - some because it made practical sense to do so, and others simply because the pull of their new home yielded more than the places they had left had ever offered them. Now, more than ever, as may African countries face critical brain drains, those who form part of the latter are often criticized for this decision. Zimbabwean-born architect Nicole Moyo, who studied abroad in Canada details her experiences as an adventure-hungry globetrotter and someone who is part of the African Academic Diaspora.

What if we never moved? And we all stayed in our own niches, remaining indigenous in the purist form? I wonder how many terms we would go our whole lives never having heard: “inter”, “multi”, “dimensional” – these words, to name a few, rely on an “other” or “outer” relationship to give them a purpose. These simple words describe myself, and yourself in the borderless world we live in today.

I never really understood Africa until I left it. I say ‘Africa’ because as I crossed the boarders towards the Western shores, my immigrant identity was greater in numbers. I, like countless young individuals, had left home and was on the pursuit of seeking my fortunes abroad. Well, my family has always been on the move – by the age of 19 I was fortunate enough to have visited 23 countries. I wanted more, I was curious to know what exactly was on the other side of the pond, what was this first-world business?

Now, I cannot speak for others, but to be honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Other than incredible, unpredictable and gratifying – ‘reverse cultural shock’ would be one way to describe my experience.

There are many advantages to academic Diaspora. This of course all depends on how motivated and dedicated you are to your own personal development. I have continuously learnt the limits are boundless. Individuals you meet from around the world I describe to be the most valuable asset to the development of your perspective on life as a whole. With an international degree you open yourself up to more opportunities, which I believe is needed in a world of unpredictable economies. South Africa for example, like many other counties is being built on an international working class. “If things don’t really work out here I can always go back home” – this is the option my parents have awarded me, however every person that leaves home has the responsibility to reward themselves. Freedom is a utopic expression, the liberation to do whatever you want, whenever you want to may seem ideal until you see people around you using it as a weapon against themselves.

The disadvantages are that you really are on your own. The networks of community and support you have back home are something you always long for. You are an immigrant in an environment where you have to integrate yourself into not forgetting that you have to work far harder than the nationals for who the jobs were created. As an international, my university fees were very expensive. Architecture was a degree that I could have also obtained at home for a tenth of the price so why leave? And why do so many people never return and share their abilities and the knowledge that, if leveraged correctly, becomes a priceless commodity and significant to the development of their home countries? Well I cannot answer that because each case is different. As for myself “When are you coming home?” is a question I hear far too often and an answer that becomes further diluted as I wonder how I will re-engage myself, how will I make a great and meaningful impact? The truth is really I don’t know.

At times I feel confused and guilty, but for no good reason. I am a citizen of the world, a woman on a mission. There is no fault in my journey and if anything I get butterflies in my stomach that feel like love because I know I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing: Loving myself so that I can purposefully love others. Limitations are not always easy and present themselves as challenges of faith. As women, we are constantly being reminded of what we cannot do, how we should look but not how we should think and do best. It is our responsibility to absorb and then have a voice to teach others about the “inter”, “multi”, and “dimensional” world we all belong to. I am no longer just a woman, or just an African. Through my education, international experience and multiculturalism as an individual, I am continuously advancing my value to become a useful and purpose-driven globalized citizen.