This Mournable Body, Tsitsi Dangarembga

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Colonialism, Conflict, Creative Writing, Displacement, Human rights, Politics, Power, RacismLeave a Comment

Imprisoned minds in colonised bodies

Tsitsi Dangarembga and Julie Barnes were arrested on 31st July 2020 for walking down a street in Harare carrying placards that simply said “We want better. Reform our institutions.”. They were convicted on 29th September 2022 and given suspended sentences and fines for inciting violence. Dangarembga is a writer and filmmaker who has worked with her friend, Julie Barnes. Tsitsi Dangarembga and I were born in the same country, but grew up in different worlds where our bodies were colonised by a racist government that imprisoned our minds in opposing realities. Tsitsi Dangarembga helped to liberate me by writing her first book Nervous Conditions. I wept with relief when I read it. That was in 1988. I should have thanked her long ago.

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The kindness of creative people to each other

Ruth Hartley Storytelling1 Comment

My stand at this year’s book fair.

Autour du Livre Saturday 17th September

It is crazy of me to go to this Book Fair because I write in English and it’s impossible to sell my books after all everyone else who visits and participates, reads, writes and buys French books. All the same, I’ve been going for a number of years now – since 2017 when I had only written two books – The Shaping of Water and The Tin Heart Gold Mine. I think this may be my fifth time and, given the gap caused by the Covid lockdown, that represents a long commitment, both from me and those who organise it and who, over time, have been friendly and supportive of me.

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Fly with me

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Art by Ruth Hartley, Books by Ruth Hartley, Displacement, Installations, Migration, Refugee, When We Were Wicked2 Comments

We have a wonderful red Chinese kite that we bought in Shanghai in 2007. It’s a giant squid that flies with beautiful ease, but needs both space and wind. Here in our village we have space, but not much wind. That’s changing with the climate. The wind we get now is gusty, dusty and inconstant. In Zambia I would see children flying homemade kites made from plastic bags as I drove through the squatter towns that circle Lusaka and there were always trapped kites fluttering on the power lines overhead. The kite-flying children were always laughing because flying kites is a magical and liberating experience and kites cost nothing to make. I wrote a short story about a broken-hearted woman and a pink kite dancing between pain and joy. It’s in my short story collection When We Were Wicked

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The Godfrey Setti Retrospective Exhibition at Lechwe Trust Art Gallery: Art Lives on III

Ruth HartleyArt by Ruth Hartley5 Comments

Godfrey Setti

In 1984 Godfrey Setti asked me if he could exhibit his paintings at Mpapa Gallery. I remember that occasion so well. Godfrey was a gentle and charming young 26-year-old and I had just begun work as manager and was finding out exactly what that entailed. We were both facing new experiences, though coincidentally we had each just completed Art Diplomas. Following my degree in Fine Art at Cape Town, in 1981 I had completed a Post-Graduate Art and Design Teachers Certificate at Middlesex University while Godfrey followed his teacher training with an Art Diploma from the Evelyn Hone in Lusaka. Our lives had been different. We were, however, both born in Africa and we were both passionate about art and would become friends over the next ten years.

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Reviews, more writing and the next books

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Dust and RainLeave a Comment

Chipo meets a strange and sad woman.

Writing a series: What happens after Chipo and Chibwe save their green valley?

I started writing a story about the importance of trees for my grandson, Stephen Kupakwesu, in 1993 and that book evolved into Dust and Rain, but it hasn’t ended there.

I planned a series of children’s books and experimented with various formats from one huge book to several short ones. They exist and all need some work, but I’ve decided to follow Trinity’s good advice (see my second-last blog post) about writing a series of Chipo and Chibwe books.

The sequel I am working on now tells how Chipo and Chibwe are sent to a Museum by the Spirits of their Ancestors on a quest to find and bring back the ritual mask essential for the Green Valley Rain Ceremony.

Here are some drawings from the second book to whet your appetite.

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