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Author returns home for new novel

07 Oct 2013

New Zimbabwe.com -An author reflects on her own childhood in a mining village in Zimbabwe as inspiration for her new book.

Spiwe Nancy Mahachi-Harper has returned to her native country for her new novel Footprints in The Mists of Time.

The England-based novelist’s third book tells the story of the migrant labourers of Southern Africa who were recruited under the Witswatersrand Native Labour Association (WNLA), from Mosambique, Zambia, Malawi and parts of Zimbabwe, known then as Rhodesia.

The story follows five people spanning three generations of the same family.

Harper, who moved to the UK in 1998 and lives in Shirley, said although the novel is historical fiction, she story was a familiar one for many families in Zimbabwe.

She explains: “The patriarch leaves his home country to go and seek his fortune in the gold mines, and hopes to be back after a year or so, but like most immigrants the world over, he is unable to go back. It was more difficult for most of the migrant workers to return to their countries of origin because the journey of several hundreds of miles (to Southern Rhodesia) was undertaken on foot.”

The trip was fraught with danger, although many survived it to go on to the mines and farms to work for a meagre wage.

The book touches on two major historical events, the Burmese War and the Wankie Colliery disaster of 1972 which saw more than 400 killed, to demonstrate how the family, and the country was shaped.