Zviuya Zviri Mberi (For a better tomorrow) is a 90-page Shona novel written by Joyce Simango. The book was the first Shona book written by an African woman in Rhodesia.
Munhamo -the rebellious wife. Munhamo's Husband - The oppressive husband and father to Tambudzai. Tambudzai - The victim of child marriage and victor.
The novel explores the relations between men and women in a fast-changing society. In the book, Simango writes about a rebellious wife who runs away with her 9-year old daughter to save her from forced marriage to an old man. It is a story about Tambudzai whose father chooses a suitor for her and the poor girl is saved from such an arrangement by her very resistant mother. The novel amplifies the concept of feminism in colonial Rhodesia which was at that time a male-dominated society where women were regarded as assets at the disposal of their male counterparts.
In the book, Munhamo (no freedom from trouble) is a female character who resembles rebellion against the patriarchal setup. Munhamo runs away with her nine-year-old daughter Tambudzai (the troubled one) in order to save her from marriage to an older man.
Tambudzai's father Munhamo's husband wants to marry off his young daughter to raise bride price for his sixth wife. The novel exposes the rigid social stratification or set up of the African culture where woman are or were regarded as assets at the mercy of their male counterparts.
Munhamo manages to raise Tambudzai under a Christian environment and she pursues her education, becomes a nurse and marries a man of her choice.
Gender Patriarchy and development
The novel reflects the gender disparity or inequality which was part of the daily life of women during colonialism. The colonial system was repressive to all Blacks and it was actually worse for women as they had to also succumb to the societal norms, perceptions and values which classified them as assets as men had the right to do what they wanted with them as in the case of Tambudzai who was to be married off to an older man because her father wanted to raise money to marry another woman . Tambudzai's mother did not want a future like that for her child and saw running away as a liberation measure from the suffocating grip of her husband. Munhamo's act of defiance encompasses the element of development in the perception of women who in the past years had been raised and prepared for marriage. Tambudzai pursues her education and qualifies as a nurse and marries a man of her choice out of love and not persuasion which might not have been the case for her mother (Munhamo) as evidenced by the fact that her husband was a polygamist. Munhamo did not want her daughter to go through her experiences another example of the development of the decision-making capacity of women.
Zviuya Zviri Mberi was translated into English by Petina Gappah in 2007