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KwaChirere previews Diaspora Dreams, a novel by Andrew Chatora

Memory Chirere, a writer and literature lecturer with the University of Zimbabwe previews Diaspora Dreams, Andrew Chatora’s debut novel. It’s not the usual tale about a young Zimbabwean coming to the UK because of the crisis back home. Chatora rather “takes a very courageous and startling detour with this new book”.

There are strong indications that the UK based Zimbabwean writer, Andrew Chatora, is going to release his debut novel, Diaspora Dreams with Kharis Publishing in the US very soon.

On noting the subject matter, I was initially tempted to assume that this new author would take the usual route about a young Zimbabwean coming to the UK because of the crisis back home.

Ever since Dambudzo Marechera of The House of Hunger’s “I got my things and left…” of 1978 to the present, the central character of such novels, who is almost always a young fellow, flees home and country in search of an alternative existence. After that, he becomes double faced, constantly checking on the new ground while peeping at the political goings on back home. He then to then becomes a keen political eye.

However, Chatora takes a very courageous and startling detour with this new book. The main character, Mr. Kundai Mafirakureva, is following up on his teacher wife, Kay in England. Her pregnancy is now very advanced and Kundai has come to be with the beautiful Kay in her time of need, something far away from Chikwava’s single minded man in Harare North.

However, Chatora takes a very courageous and startling detour with this new book

But Kundai walks late. He does not know that he has in fact come to ‘school.’ He does not know that he is coming to the UK to learn about what women can do, sometimes, to their unsuspecting men when the survival instincts rise above love ties. If you are used to the many novels that dwell on how men typically abuse women, then this book is something else.

From the moment Kundai from  N133A Dangamvura- Mutare, manages to secure a visa at Heathrow, a whirlwind takes over. Husband and wife are on new turf. This is the UK. Their constant power struggles over which relatives should receive money from the UK and who should not, begin in earnest. Traditional African filial ties are on trial.

Kay constantly reminds Kundai that he is just a black man, anyway and that black men in the UK have no favorable recourse to the law. “Kundai, remember, you are just a black man in the UK.” On several occasions when they have a row, the British police are called to the house and they come with a clear assumption that; when a black man is in a quarrel with a woman, it must just be him who is on the wrong. They are ready to assume judge and jury. They often advise Kundai to either come to the station with them or go put up somewhere else for the night. The stereotypes run deep and Kundai is walking down a well laid script.

The climax of their fights with Kay comes when Kundai notices that Kay’s mother, vaFugude, has the temerity to use DHL to send love potions or concoctions to Kay from her sangomas, all the way from Zimbabwe! These mixtures are to be used on Kundai so that he becomes a compliant husband. An avid believer in seers, medicine men and dark mystical forces, vaFugude makes it her specialty to consult these darker, underworld forces on behalf of her daughter, Kay.

Everything becomes a power issue with Kay. From sex to normal conversation, she has to have the last word. Their divorce is tumultuous and tends to prove to Kundai that the British legal system is rather impatient with the protestations of men folk in these matters. Kundai has to go to court a record eleven times, to be allowed mere contact with his children. This involves meeting periodically with the children under observation, in a neutral empty hall. The children become tormented and disgusted. They have a distant look in their eyes.

In search of comfort, Kundai goes on to cohabit with a white workmate, Zettie, whom he calls ‘a stunning looker.’ Zettie is a young liberal-minded white girl from an affluent Buckinghamshire family. She appears to be the answer to Kundai’s questing spirit. She quickly learns to cook traditional Zimbabwean dishes and tries to speak Shona. She wants to be the ideal wife to an African man far away from Africa. But on their first visit to Zimbabwe, Zettie falls for and gets impregnated with Kundai’s cousin, Kian! They hit it off straightaway with Kian, as they both sit long drawn-out hours on the veranda at the Vumba homestead, downing lagers and continuously chain smoking weed, as if they have known each other for ages. Once more, things fall apart for Kundai.

Kundai quickly moves on. He does not want to be alone. He hooks up with a woman on an online dating website. She is a Zimbabwean called Jacinda. They quickly get married and Jacinda joins Kundai in the UK. In no time, she starts to treat Kundai to the bitterest and scariest lesson of his life. You read on with a numbed face!

Kundai loses it all and his subsequent charmed incantations and chants while in an English madhouse, are the most revealing part of this novel.

Kundai loses it all and his subsequent charmed incantations and chants while in an English madhouse, are the most revealing part of this novel. As a result, Diaspora Dreams could be of interest to those who study the male psyche and manhood. The losing black male is still a dark area, rich with distances to be traveled and depths to be probed.

But this novel is not just about Kundai and his women. It alsodwells on what often goes on when you set out to teach English to English pupils when you are actually a black teacher from a former colony! To date, I have not come across a novel that dwells at equal length on the relationship between a teacher from Africa and white school kids, and the relationship between a black teacher and the white school administration in a white country.

Published by KHARIS PUBLISHING,2021, isbn: ISBN-13: 978-1-63746-029-0

About Andrew Chatora: He received an MA in Media, Culture and Communication from UCL. He has written and published widely on topical issues with This is Africa publication. He is principally interested in the global politics of inequality which he interrogates through his writings. When he is not writing, he is working on his PhD thesis on Digital Piracy, with Birmingham City University’s School of Media and English.

The article was first published on the website: and it is published here with permission of the writer. 

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About the Author

Andrew Chatora

Andrew Chatora

Andrew Chatora is a Zimbabwean novelist, essayist and short-story writer based in Bicester, England. He grew up in Mutare, Zimbabwe, and moved to England in 2002. His debut novella, Diaspora Dreams (2021), was approvingly received and nominated for the National Arts Merit Awards (2022). His second book, Where the Heart Is, was published in the same year to considerable acclaim. Chatora’s forthcoming book, Born Here, But Not in My Name, is a brave, humorous and psychologically penetrating portrait of post-Brexit Britain. Chatora is noted for his acerbic and honest depiction of the migrant experience. Heavily influenced by his own experience as a black English teacher in the United Kingdom, Chatora probes multi-cultural relationships, identity politics, blackness, migration, citizenship and nationhood.

''Inside Harare Alcatraz and Other Short Stories affords Andrew Chatora to tell his story with more urgency than before. Chatora roars into centre stage with this charmed confluence of the novella, the essay, the treatise, the short story and the vignette. Here is a collection to startle you out of your complacency.'' – Memory Chirere, University of Zimbabwe

In his fourth literary offering, Andrew Chatora gives us eleven stories written in a wide range of settings and painting the lives of Zimbabweans from different walks of life. From the impenetrable Harare prison to the working class Mutare and its domain of shebeen queens to suburban Harare and a politically charged United Kingdom in a post Brexit world, Chatora takes the reader on a grand tour of outrage. Notwithstanding the shifts in scene and setting, these stories have one pervasive theme in common - they capture the suffocation and desperation of Zimbabwe and her Diaspora and fully describe the precariousness of living in environments that are increasingly hostile.

Inside Harare Alcatraz and Other Short Stories transcends the grass is never greener perspective with a nuanced interrogation of the socio-political realities of its characters. Chatora fashions a diverse cast of characters whose complexities and eccentricities evoke the utmost in us.
"Where The Heart Is offers a nuanced view of one family’s struggle to negotiate cold Britannia as they face dicey neighbourhoods, sketchy liaisons, and perennial ill-fate. Chatora’s diaspora is not the glorified El Dorado; it is an honest place of grit and survival. A stellar contribution."

– Tariro Ndoro, Author Agringada: Like a Gringa, Like a Foreigner

For migrant Fari Mupawaenda, life cannot be complete without quitting the back breaking struggle for survival in the UK and returning to the laid-back streets of a warm Harare… but does it make sense for him to want to return to the periphery once more? The man who returns, why does he return? To what does he return?

His wife, a zealous cosmopolitan, the daughter, a conflicted bed-hopping undergraduate, and the son, a budding homosexual, will not follow Fari in his trip to what they see as the back of beyond. They have decided to invest fully where they are.
Fari’s reverse trip is a story about the human body, a tight memory test and a duel between geography and anticipation…

Masterful in style and form, the narratives in Andrew Chatora’s Where the Heart Is are intensely provocative.

-Memory Chirere- University of Zimbabwe
“Chatora gives us an honest account of the migrant’s experiences in a world that seeks to silence him. Diaspora Dreams is simultaneously suffocating and isolating. Battle after battle, the reader is constantly thrown into the unforgiving world of a black man in a white man’s world.” – Tariro Ndoro, Author, Agringada: Like a Gringa, Like a Foreigner

Diaspora Dreams is Andrew Chatora’s debut novella. It details the life and struggles of Kundai Mafirakureva, a Zimbabwean immigrant living in the United Kingdom. When Kundai departs a failing Zimbabwe for the greener pastures of England, he is convinced that his luck will immediately change. Yet what he finds in the UK convinces him that all that glitters is not always gold.

Chatora takes us on a journey that acquaints us with Thames Valley, where Kundai must negotiate his place and his voice in a world where African men are not welcome, a world where racial prejudice is still rampant. Set against the backdrop of petty classroom squabbles that constantly remind Kundai of his lower status as an immigrant and as a black man, Diaspora Dreams exposes the tensions of working in the diaspora and the complicated dynamics between community and authority experienced by black men.

The pressures of Britain also bear down on Kundai’s family and relationships, threatening, in the words of du Bois, to “tear his soul asunder.” This is a novel with comedic elements gleaming with personal values and beliefs, sometimes an aching story to read, but never without excitement and hope as you watch this black man’s life unfold.
“Harare Voices and Beyond takes us on a journey through the dark recesses of the human psyche.”

─Sue Quainton, Bicester, United Kingdom

A drunken confession exposes a dark family secret. Rhys appears to have it all. A white Zimbabwean living in affluent Borrowdale Brooke area he gets involved in a freak traffic accident. Therein unfolds a confession which unleashes a cathartic chain of events in the family’s hitherto well-choreographed life, a family whose lived experience becomes microcosmic and an eye opener to Zimbabwe’s seemingly closed, forgotten, white minority community.

Through offering a rare insight into lives of the white community in post-independence Zimbabwe, Harare Voices and Beyond explores the dynamics of love, money, family feuds, identity politics, false philanthropy, and respectability inter-alia. Two families’ lives are inexorably linked in this fast-paced narrative which not only traverses multiple locations, but also juxtaposes the seedy underbelly of Harare with the leafy northern suburbs, and little-known Marina Thompson from UK Durham University all appear linked in a drama-infused finale that will shock and numb the reader.

Today in Literature

Andrew Chatora’s Debut Novella “Diaspora Dreams” Stares Back at the White Gaze


The Breaking of Our Tribe: A Review of Where the Heart Is by Andrew Chatora


Charles Lovemore Mungoshi – Eulogy to Greatness


Navigating New Identities – A Review of Andrew Chatora’s “Diaspora Dreams”


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