From debut Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Mapepa comes the saga of the four Taha sisters, and the indomitable matriarch who carried her daughters—and her community—through times of drought and violence in their Harare neighborhood.
From the red soil of her garden in Southgate 1, a crowded suburb of Harare, Nyeredzi watches the world. She knows not to venture beyond the grasses that fence them off from the bush, where the city’s violent criminals and young lovers claim the night. But on this red soil, she is sovereign. It is here where she learns how to kill snakes, how to fight off a man, and how to take what she is due. It is here where Nyeredzi and her three older sisters are raised, and where they will each find a different destiny.
Decades prior, a young woman abandons a position of great power to seek justice in the second Chimurenga War, only to return to find her world in shambles. So Zuva Mutongi sets off to build a world of her own, raising four daughters—Nyeredzi, Hannah, Abigail, and Ruth—and defending them from the evils beyond their small Harare home. But when a letter from her long-estranged brother calls her back to a past life, Zuva must reconcile with her duty and heal the broken community she left behind.
Tsitsi Mapepa’s vibrant debut is the history of a new Zimbabwe, with resilient women and men who raised a nation from its ashes. It is the chronicle of an L-shaped house, long awaited and much beloved, and the guests, welcome and unwelcome, who cross its threshold. It is the coming-of-age of four sisters, who will discover the secrets of womanhood on the volatile streets of Harare. But above all, it is a love song to one woman—a soldier, healer, chief, and mother—whose fierce devotion to her people is a testament to the bonds of blood that bind us all.
Tsitsi Mapepa is a Kiwi, Zimbabwean-born writer who lets her creative side stream out in poetry, short stories, and novels. She studied at Manukau Institute of Technology, where she won an award of excellence in 2016 and the Kairangatira award in the BCA in 2018, before completing her Master's in Creative Writing degree at the University of Auckland in 2020. She resides in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband and three children. In October 2023, Tsitsi was awarded a residency in the University of Auckland's inaugural Writers' Room. Ndima Ndima is her debut novel.
"Creating a world that feels both incredibly real and legendary, Mapepa beautifully explores the formation of Zimbabwe as an independent state in a way reminiscent of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’sKintu. A truly insightful debut from an exciting new Zimbabwean author with a talent for writing the human experience." – Booklist
"In telling stories of the bonds between mothers and daughters, from the playful to the profound, Mapepa delivers a novel with profound emotional resonance." – Electric Literature, "The 15 Must-Read Small Press Books of Fall"
"Like her literary Zimbabwean compatriots NoViolet Bulawayo and Tsitsi Dangarembga, both authors of Booker Prize shortlisted titles, Mapepa gifts savvy international readers with illuminated windows into their mutual native country. Beyond the novel's culturally and historically specific details, Mapepa's characters inspire empathy as strong mothers, daughters, sisters, and women in a borderless, (still) male-dominated world." – Shelf Awareness, "The Best Books This Week, December 4, 2023"
"Mapepa’s Ndima Ndima is a deeply-woven and emotional coming-of-age tale about owning your power and strength as a young woman, in the midst of utter surrounding chaos." – Books of Brilliance, "7 New Indie Titles to Read This Fall and Winter"
"With its push and pull between tradition and modernity, male and female, peace and unrest, this collection would be an excellent choice for book groups or a world literature class. […] So many schools read the classic Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe; this novel with its focus on female protagonists could be an excellent pairing with that novel." – Youth Services Book Review, Starred Review
"In her striking debut, Tsitsi Mapepa presents suburban Harare, Zimbabwe, and its residents in fresh and radiant prose. [...] At once searing and elegant, Mapepa takes on violence and peace, strength and compassion, pain and beauty in one unforgettable book. " – Ms. Magazine
"[Mapepa] uses a writing style that is spare and to the point. [...] The stories, told chronologically, hang together well, with a novelistic arc characteristic of the best novels-in-stories. [...] It is a testament to Mapepa’s writing that, as she intended, readers feel pulled into the women’s woes, a constant reminder that, according to [main character] Zuva, 'We are all related through humanity.'" – Washington Independent Review of Books, "Our 51 Favorite Books of 2023"
"Mapepa’s prose flows smoothly, like listening to stories from an old friend. The description is vivid yet terse, painting a picture while handing most of the image to the reader’s imagination. With its matriarch and four girls living together, some might draw comparisons with Alcott’s Little Women, but Ndima Ndima is its own creature, distinct and resilient." –BlogCritics
"While this poignant novel is grown from a literary heritage, it is also utterly original, like the new way of being its characters must inhabit. Ndima Ndima is many things: a deep portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship; a synthesis of past and present; an aching yet hopeful story. Ndima Ndima explores what is precious – a place to be, a future, loved ones, community, resilience. [B]eautifully, urgently, page-turningly uplifting." –Aotearoa New Zealand Review of Books
A heartfelt coming of age tale from a talented new Zimbabwean writer brimming with striking and evocative descriptions of Zimbabwean life, and a moving exploration of a mother and daughter relationship. The mother-daughter duo of the indomitable former fighter Zuva, anointed chief of her people, and her daughter Nyeredzi who is curious to learn more about her culture and her role in it, is brought beautifully to life against the backdrop of a country in turmoil." – Irene Sabatini, author of An Act of Defiance
"A compulsive read full of humanity, beautifully narrated and with a touch of magical realism, Ndima Ndima serves it all on one devastatingly gorgeous platter: hope, fear, love, tragedy, and triumph. Leaping forward and flashing back through time with masterful agility, alternatively narrated by the courageous Zuva and her young daughter Nyeredzi, Ndima Ndima is a gripping, emotional gem of a journey through Zimbabwean culture and history. Once it has gently pulled you in, it holds you rapt till you are released, exhausted and grateful, at the perfect ending. An astounding debut!" – Buki Papillon, author of An Ordinary Wonder
"Tsitsi Mapepa’s debut novel Ndima Ndima transports readers to Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, in this beautiful, vivid, immersive story of Zuva, a warrior, mother, and wife raising her four daughters in a country thirsty for water, safety and peace. Set against the backdrop of the Chimurenga War, this is a story of courage, loss, resilience, and love. At its center is the mother-daughter relationship between Zuva and her youngest, Nyeredzi, a girl who inherits her mother’s spiritual gift and indomitable spirit. Part coming-of-age tale and part meditation on the tremendous strength of women, Ndima Ndima is a book that does what I love best about historical fiction. It illuminates a fascinating time and place in history that is new to me while exploring universal themes that feel close to home." – Adele Myers, author of TheTobacco Wives
"Beautifully written, with talent and heart,Ndima Ndima is an immersive, moving read about the different strengths and lives of women. Nyeredzi is a relatable and easy-to-love character, but Zuva steals the show. My heart extends to this strong and fierce woman who, despite everything, wanted peace." – Shameez Patel Papathanasiou, author ofThe Last Feather andThe Eternal Shadow
"Ndima Ndima is part of a new generation of works by Zimbabwean women. I was drawn in by Nyeredzi, who reminded me of Dangarembga’s Tambu & NoViolet’s Destiny but with her own flare. The story is both magical and grounded, tender and yet gripping - the story of fighting for independence, family complications, mythology and the ongoing struggle for Zimbabwe. I couldn’t put it down! – Dr. Chipo Dendere, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College