Petina Gappah s story A Short History of Zaka the Zulu appears in this week s issue of The New Yorker. Credit PHOTOGRAPH BY MARINA CAVAZZA Y our story in this week s issue, A Short History of Zaka the Zulu  , is set at the College of Loyola, a Jesuit school in Zimbabwe that is based on a school you attended. Does the story draw on your own experiences? It doesn t draw on my experiences but it does draw on my memories. I spent the final two years of high school studying English literature, history, and Shona at St. Ignatius College, which is the top school in Zimbabwe, renowned for its academic performance and stellar results. In my time, the school took forty girls at A-Level, to join the four hundred or so boys from Form 1 to Form 6 who made up the rest of the school. We girls were supposed to have a civilizing influence on the boys. I can t say how successful we were at achieving that mission, because there was certainly nothing civilized about the boys crowding around the school balconies to watch us swim! For the most part, though, the boys were sweet and adorable, and many of them have remained dear friends. What I loved the most about being there was that it was a school that encouraged excellence and competition but not rivalry we were coevals competing to bring out the best in one another, not rivals fighting to knock one another down. What made you a former Mary Ward decide to write the story from the perspective of the male students at the school? And why did you choose to use the first-person plural? About four years ago, I was invited to give a speech at the school s Prize-Giving Day. I had not been back during term time since I left. It struck me then how incredibly young the boys were, even the oldest of them. That realization inspired me to write a story about the closed and insular world of boarding school, and about the choices that teen-agers can make in the arrogant belief that they know everything. I don t believe in the write what you know school of writing; I believe in writing what I can realistically imagine. I love to write across class, across race, across sex and gender, and I wanted badly to put myself in the shoes of those boys. It would have been too easy to write it from the girls perspective; I wanted to push myself by imagining another. As for the voice: I am currently writing a historical novel about the journey undertaken by the African companions of the Scottish explorer David Livingstone to carry his body from the African interior to the coast, so that he could be buried in his own land. It is a large and busy novel I just hope it will be polyphonic rather than cacophonic and one of the voices is a chorus of the sixty or so men who travelled with the body. As I have never studied creative writing, everything I know about writing has come from trying and failing, and, most of all, from reading. I read everything I could find that was written in that kind of collective voice, so as to learn from better writers. There are very few examples because it is such a tricky voice to get right, particularly in a novel, unless you are Jeffrey Eugenides in the sublime The Virgin Suicides. Then I read Faulkner s A Rose for Emily , and the idea of trying that voice out in a short story came to me at once. What do you think drove Nicodemus to do what he did? It seems possible that he actually liked Zaka and wanted to have his genuine friendship. Was blackmail the only way for him to get what he wanted? That s such a great question. Nicodemus is desperate to be accepted, but he does things in a clumsy way that alienates the other boys, such as suggesting a nickname for himself. These little things are hugely important in schools with rigid codes and protocols. I suspect that Nicodemus would have used the money he tried to blackmail from the first boy (who died) to try to buy friendship, but, that having failed, he manipulates Zaka into behaving like a friend. You are right to say that he probably does like Zaka, but the tragedy with manipulative people is that there is often a war within them between their better instincts and their need to control people. The lust for power becomes intoxicating and kills what could have been a real relationship. Is it relevant that Nicodemus is a scholarship student from a poor family, whereas Zaka comes from better circumstances? It is not so much that Zaka is from a better-off family at that sort of school at that time, the late eighties or early nineties, all the boys would come from quite similar family circumstances, even the scholarship students. It is simply that Zaka is from a more loving, or perhaps I should say more engaged, family. They come to see him, bringing him food, and they cheer him on when he does well, while Nicodemus, whose parents are probably struggling with younger brothers and sisters at home, are unable to do so. Nicodemus is probably the first child in the family to get to this kind of school, and his poor parents simply don t realize what s expected in terms of visits and support. The tragedy at the center of the story is triggered by an affair between two boys at the school, who are blackmailed by a fellow-student. What would have happened to the boys if they had been discovered by someone else, someone in a position of authority? Would they have been punished? Disgraced? They would most certainly have been expelled. And that would have blighted their futures. Education is everything in Zimbabwe. Partly because it was bottlenecked in Rhodesia, and thus a scarce resource, with black students competing for few places, parents of schoolchildren there still have a passion for education that I must say I have not seen anywhere else. I know a truck driver who recently sold his house just so that his daughter could go to university in Cyprus. Zimbabweans, black Zimbabweans, are raised with the idea that education is crucial to success. It s part of the reason that the fake-Ph.D. industry thrives there! So it is less criminal sanctions that the boys would fear homosexual acts, even between consenting adults, are illegal in Zimbabwe than the prospect of being kicked out of school and the disgrace that that would bring to them and their families. Zaka is so good at chess the ultimate game of strategy but fails completely when it comes to being strategic in his own life. He alienates almost everyone. Is that an intentional irony on your part? That s such a great observation. I had not thought about it that way at all. But yes, Zaka is a poor strategist. And he does not mean to alienate anyone. He is just really caught up in the idea of what it means to be the perfect schoolboy. He derives his primary identity from being a Loyolan, a good Catholic. It is an image that does not reflect his deepest nature, which is why he is at war with himself, and with others. It s why he spends so long in the confessional, and why, when he is forced to leave university, he finds himself back in the valley, with a view of his old school, wearing the uniform he wore when he was head prefect. A Short History of Zaka the Zulu will appear in your new collection, Rotten Row, which will be published by Faber & Faber in the U.K. in November. Do the stories in the collection have a thematic link? There is indeed a thematic link in the collection. Rotten Row is the street in Harare on which you find the Criminal Division of the Magistrate s Court. The book is made up of twenty stories about crime, seen from different perspectives. I also experiment with different approaches to storytelling: I use a court judgment, an autopsy report, and an Internet discussion forum, as well as other voices. I love the short story and want to master the form. I love the sentence-by-sentence, word-level attention that the short story demands, and that is its greatest pleasure. References ^ A Short History of Zaka the Zulu (www.newyorker.com)
Reference Library – European Union – Cyprus
TMG Digital | 2016-05-31 08:22:48.0 The horse trailer with several false compartments containing illicit cigarettes. File photo Image by: SARS Bulging blue and black bags stuffed with nearly a ton of dagga were discovered in hidden compartments aboard a truck that was making its way to Cape Town. Cape Town cluster crime prevention unit police got a tip-off about a shipment of drugs on the N1 freeway. At around lunch time on Monday they pulled over a transport company truck on the Huguenot bridge close to the tollgate exit in the direction of Cape Town. A search of the truck revealed a hidden compartment in its chassis. This compartment was made of wood and fitted onto the undercarriage of the truck said police spokesperson Constable Noloyiso Rwexana. The compartment was searched as well as the cargo hold of the truck and 25 large bags containing dagga were found hidden in these areas he said. A 57-year-old man was promptly arrested. The dagga weighing 774kg was according to police estimates worth R3.8-million. The suspect will appear in the Paarl Magistrates’ Court on charges of dealing in drugs said Rwexana. TMG Digital
Owain Johnston-Barnes Published Sep 9, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 9, 2016 at 10:00 am) Evelyn Rewan at a previous court hearing on the Luke Armstrong case in 2009 (File photograph) Related Stories A woman severely injured in a fatal collision is attempting to locate another driver involved in the crash in order to seek damages. According to a notice published this week in the Cayman Islands, Evelyn Kim Rewan is seeking damages from Englishman Luke Armstrong for losses sustained as a result of the 2009 collision. Mr Armstrong has since left Bermuda and his whereabouts are unknown. The notice reads: Evelyn Kim Rewan has filed a Specially Endorsed Writ of Summons in the Supreme Court of Bermuda: Civil Jurisdiction: 2015: No 98: Evelyn Kim Rewan v Air Care Limited and Luke David Armstrong. This writ has been filed in the Supreme Court Registry, asking for damages for loss sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident in which you were involved. Your whereabouts being unknown, the Supreme Court of Bermuda has ordered service upon you by way of substituted service through this advertisement. If you wish to defend or counterclaim, you must ender an appearance in person or by an attorney either by handing in the appropriate forms, duly completed, at the Registry of the Supreme Court in Hamilton, Bermuda, or sending them to the Registry by post. The notice warns that if Mr Armstrong does not enter an appearance in the registry within 28 days of the date of publication, he would not be entitled to further notice and Ms Rewan may proceed with the matter and the relief claimed may be given in his absence. Ms Rewan was one of two passengers in a car driven by Winston Yogi Burrows in April, 2009, when the vehicle was involved in a collision with a heavy truck, driven by Mr Armstrong. While Ms Rewan survived with a broken neck and multiple fractures, Mr Burrows was killed when the damaged car burst into flames. In the wake of the crash, Mr Armstrong left the scene. He was later charged with causing the death of Mr Burrows by driving while impaired by alcohol. During a subsequent trial, the court heard that Mr Armstrong had several beers before the crash, although no evidence of a breath test was presented to the jury. The jury was also shown gouge marks and scrape marks in the road, indicating that Mr Armstrong s truck was a few inches on the wrong side of the road when the collision occurred. Mr Armstrong also admitted that he was not licensed to drive a heavy truck at the time of the collision. However, evidence also indicated that Mr Burrows was double the legal blood-alcohol limit and had cocaine in his system at the time of the crash. The court also heard that Mr Burrows had a paralysed hand from a separate collision more than a decade earlier. The jury unanimously found Mr Armstrong guilty and he was sentenced to 15 months in prison, but his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal after it was determined that the trial judge had not properly directed the jury on how to weigh up the evidence. It is understood that sometime after his release, Mr Armstrong left the country, working in Cyprus for a period before moving to Singapore last year. On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on what we consider to be a controversial or contentious story. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.