Despite the fact that over two decades and the coming of independence lie between the publication of Charles Mungoshi's Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva [How Time Passes] (1975) and Ignatius Mabasa's Mapenzi [Fools] (1999), the city—a key setting in both novels—is described in similar, often congruent, images by the two male protagonists, Rex and Hamundigone. Salisbury, later Harare, is likened to an undefeatable seductress who traps and ruins men by introducing them to her twin pleasures of cheap beer and fast women. Thus, on the surface, the city appears to be responsible for social corruption and moral decay. A close reading of the imagery in both novels, however, reveals that both authors refrain from regurgitating the programmatic and rather simplistic “old society versus modern lifestyle” trope that has permeated the discourse of urbanization in Shona literature. Instead, they intimate that larger sociopolitical forces are the root causes of social malaise in colonial Rhodesia and, subsequently, independent Zimbabwe.
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