The Shaping of Water

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Colonialism, Displacement, Freedom Fighters, Southern Africa, The Shaping of Water, Zambia4 Comments

The Shaping of Water

The Shaping of Water book coverSuch a lovely thing happened to me today. My first novel The Shaping of Water has appeared on the Facebook Page and Website of Gadsden Publishers in Lusaka Zambia. This is the right place for my book to be – Zambia is the home of this novel. You can see the video about the book here at – The Shaping of Water . It is the story of the people connected with a holiday cottage on one of the biggest dam projects in the world Lake Kariba built on the Zambezi River in the heart of Africa. The dam is shaped by the political ambitions of a colonial power but it  itself shapes the region – the story tells of the displacement of people, of power, and of the environment by water, by love, by hate and by war.

“As ideals and dreams founder on the rocks of political reality, three couples search for ways to keep faith.”

Ruth Hartley Writer

The roots of the story go back to my first visit to see Kariba Dam before it was finished – even before it was opened by the Queen Mother. I was  16. As a young adult I lived on Lake Kariba with my family for a year from May 1972. That was at a time when political unrest and war began to engulf the region. A few years later my family was lucky enough to regularly visit and enjoy a holiday cottage on the shores above the lake. That was the start of my love for Lake Kariba and the despair and hope that became part of my life in Zambia. The idea for the novel was born from the sand and water of Kariba and it grew gradually over some 20 years as I collected information and scribbled down plots and characters. I had to wait till I had the time to concentrate on the book. First another had to be written – The Love and Wisdom Crimes – which I hope to publish this year. Writing takes a lifetime of living and takes over your life too.

The story of Lake Kariba

The story of Kariba is also the story of the wonderful Zambezi River. Its the story of the displacement of many 1000s of people from their homes in the Zambezi Valley. Its the story of the wars of liberation in Africa and the story of the end of colonialism. It is the story of the wildlife of Africa, the flora and the fauna and the destruction of an environment and the creation of a new country, a new people and a new way of living. It is also the story of the myths about the Zambezi and its the river spirit Nyaminyami. My story is several love stories.


Back home in Zambia

I had to leave Zambia when I was 50. Until then most of my life had been spent in Africa. It was my home and I loved it. That has also made it the source of my novels and my poems. It was also, for many years, the inspiration for my art. My stories originate in Africa though they belong to readers in any place and any country.

Next week I will be traveling back to the home that has nurtured my creativity and my spirit. It will be wonderful to find my books there too. Thank you Gadsden Publishers.



Gadsden Publisher, Lusaka Zambia

"The Shaping of Water" by Ruth Hartley - a pile of new booksIn the years since I left Zambia, the publishing world has been in a tumultuous state partly because of technology and online digital advances. I too, have had to struggle with the problems of self-publishing in a crowded literary world. Zambia meanwhile, has gone from a population who were largely illiterate to a modern technologial society dependent on smartphones and computers. What also altered was the delivery of education and information in a world where reading is a mostly unappreciated luxury. Gadsden Publishing has somehow survived these changes and it continues to publish books and to support and encourage Zambian literature and writers.

I am looking forward to visiting Gadsden Publishers very soon and to meeting Fay Gadsden again.

4 Comments on “The Shaping of Water”

  1. Géraldine de Haan

    Wonderful Ruth, that the Shaping of Water is on its way to find its organic audience! Hope you’ll have an inspiring and rewarding visit to Zambia.

  2. Ian Vivian

    Ruth, your blog about your wonderful trip to Zambia is just that!! You portray your former home vividly, enthusiastically and so clearly that although I’ve never visited Zambia, I feel as if I know the place. Ian

    1. Ruth Hartley

      Ian – thank you so much for your comment. I am delighted that you enjoyed my post and found it painted a lifelike picture of Zambia for you.

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