|Article by Joyce Jenje-Makwenda
Published May 9, 2008
A new book tackling issues such as ignorance among southern Africans about HIV/AIDS, suspicion and mistrust among African immigrants in the United Kingdom and the challenges of one having to juggle more than three jobs to survive abroad, has just been released by UK-based Zimbabwean writer, Sarudzayi E Chifamba-Barnes. JOYCE JENJE-MAKWENDA reports.
Set in Zimbabwe and the UK, The Endless Trail gives the reader an insight into the way of life in rural Zimbabwe of the 1980s when many people dismissed HIV/AIDS as as an ‘American Idea of Discouraging Sex’ all the way to the late 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century when the full impact of HIV is felt.
Despite this reality, some southern African heads of state like Thabo Mbeki argue that HIV does not cause AIDS while their health ministers like Edmie Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang contend that people living with HIV need not anti-retroviral drugs but a steady diet of beetroots and garlic!
Published by AuthorHouse Ltd, UK in March 2008, this 196-page book “unique in the sense that it raises awareness about HIV and AIDS among African women and children” also shows a lowly housemaid working alongside the employer in the factories packing fruits, a former house-owner working side by side with his tenant in nursing homes looking after the elderly, and the once oppressed wife in Zimbabwe now earning more than the husband, prompting others to say that in the UK it’s only your physical strength which matters (simba rako chete).
Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury (House of Lords) notes in his review of The Endless Trail that it “highlights the extent and seriousness of the HIV crisis facing Southern Africa, and charts the human consequences for individuals, families, and especially children” and that “It can alert us all to the continuing need to fight stigma, superstition and poverty.”
Jenny, who is also a virgin when she marries, escapes an abusive marriage by joining the exodus of frustrated Zimbabwean professionals to the UK where people expect to find the streets of London paved with the British Sterling Pounds.
Jenny’s life turns upside down when she discovers that like her mother, she too, had been infected by the HIV virus by her husband. To make matters worse she discovers that her twelve year old daughter in Zimbabwe had been born with the virus, while the other two daughters are negative. Trouble begins when her brother’s wife refuses to care for the children, who end up in the care of paid domestic carers.
Readers are likely to be drawn to tears when Tafadzwa, one of Jenny’s daughters, is raped and infected by HIV by a male carer who is advised by a traditional healer to sleep with a virgin in order to be cured of the HIV.
A must read for every African, the writer displays her poetic skills when she starts The Endless Trail with a poem in which the human immunodeficiency virus is personified and talks about the way it attacks its victims. The story begins with Jenny carrying a suitcase going to a boarding school where she is bullied, and ends with Jenny packing a suitcase to return to Zimbabwe to care for her two HIV positive daughters. The Endless Trail is indeed an endless trail of recurring misfortunes, but Jenny soldiers on.
The book can be purchased for £6.80 directly from the publisher by visiting theendlesstrail.com or through major book retailers like Barnes and Noble, amazon.com. Readers may buy it from Xarra Books for ZA100 in South Africa.
With film producers already contemplating turning the story into a film the talented Chifamba-Barnes is working on The Endless Trail Part 2, wholly set in Zimbabwe, due to public demand.