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Diaries of a Non-Diarist

Destination: World - A Zimbabwean in Penang

Zimbabwe farm opportunities for horseback riding

Zimbabwe days: growing up and getting hooked on horses

Travel Worcester Cathedral River Severn England summer

England days: the weather was perfect sometimes

Travel Cumulo nimbus Penang storm clouds

Penang days: forging a new life in a new culture

I left Zimbabwe in search of opportunities to travel the world, made England my home for many years and now I'm here in Penang, learning and living a new culture. And I've just published a novel I called "Chimurenga" after picking away at the manuscript for literally years. So have I succeeded in keeping a diary of my life? No.

 

Many of the Great and Good have left their diaries to the world. They worked hard at it. The whole purpose of writing a diary is to document something every day - some little snippet of one’s life, some little observation about the lives of others, some little gem of knowledge - but me, I always wondered why anyone would bother because there are plenty of days that are not even remotely interesting to anyone else but the author.


I did try once, just after I started work.  The weekday entries fizzled out fairly quickly and it became a record of my weekend horseback riding and dog walking exploits. Somehow “Carried out structural calculations for the pipe bridge over the Kwe Kwe river” and “Completed the valve chamber reinforcement schedules” never dredge up the same nostalgic pangs as “Took the horses up the sand track on the north side of Mt Hampden, galloped along the drainage swale on the Old Mazoe Road and cooled them off by swimming them in the farm dam”. Does keeping a hand drawn map of routes I explored, traced and retraced with a variety of equine and canine companions over the years called “My favourite haunts” count as a diary? If so then maybe you could say I had one.

So, I’m not a diarist and I never will be. I was born in Zimbabwe and, through fictitious characters, my book tries to capture my life there in the midst of what's become known as the Second Chimurenga, aka the Rhodesian bush war. I then had a go at documenting my move to Penang in Malaysia on the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme. I did this move in 2020/2021 in an unprecedented, crazed, panicked, frankly ludicrous world and it nearly didn't happen. Maybe we'll all find our lost lives in 2022 and move on.

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Diaries-of-a-non-diarist-Chimurenga-logo
A novel
by Wendy Wright


A turbulent coming-of-age in a country at war with itself
I did it - I grabbed the advice and -wrote a novel
RHODESIA 1972

Tessa Harmand is nine years old when a humiliating experience forever alters her naïve perception of the society in which she lives, forcing her to question her own attitude to her black compatriots – an attitude she’s inherited from her elders.


Nathan Owen is twelve-years-old, dark haired and inscrutable. To Tessa, he is a dead-pan, distant ghost flitting into view and then dissolving in a blink… but an odd conversation with him only serves to heighten Tessa’s new and unwelcome awareness of the political uncertainty.


As the first whisperings of the armed struggle that will transform Rhodesia into Zimbabwe gradually invade Tessa’s daily life, the adults in her world remain oddly dismissive, even as civil war becomes an inescapable reality. Tessa comes to realise that white dominated Africa belongs in the past; her optimism for the inevitable political change is shocking to a generation desperate to preserve what it has. But amid the chaos of a country fighting itself to reforge its identity, can Tessa hold on to what’s most important?

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