August 10, 2012

“There are keys in the river.  Life is one long river, a pretty voice sings.”

Sometime during mid-1994, I started writing essays, poems, and short stories to help me pass the O-level English exams which I had failed a couple of times in the past. I never thought I was writing pieces that would be read; rather, I began writing simply as practice for this important exam, a rite of passage to higher education in Zimbabwe.

The works, however, continued to develop and evolve, as if they were struggling for a life of their own. The earliest iteration of this collection came together as Undying Echoes sometime near the end of 1997. It was then that I developed a conviction to become a professional writer. That collection, which I finished around 1999, dealt with the unfolding of relationships against the backdrop of a continent, Africa, deeply conflicted by social and cultural differences.

Cypriot poet, Nora Nadjarian, brought the expression "keys in the river," to my attention through her potent poem entitled Obdachloser Off the Coast, Spring 2009. In meditating on it, my appreciation for her graceful turn of the phrase grew. Water is a classic symbol of life; therefore, the river is a symbol for our own flow through life. Keys are an almost mystical symbol. They are meaningless in and of themselves, unless they match a lock and, being used, reveal that which has been hidden. I remember the questions floating through my mind: What keys are in the river? What might be revealed with these keys? Why were they left behind?

The expression continued to undulate through my mind as an iconic and deeply appropriate title which hinted at the figurative and symbolic connections reverberating through the stories I had collected. It was this impetus that caused me, during August 2009, to rework the manuscript into Keys in the River, using advice I had accumulated from other African writers over the years. I wanted this collection to touch the experience of modern Zimbabwe in a visceral, yet symbolic manner. It is so important for us, as Zimbabweans, to enter into the planetary conversation with our own stories about humanity. We need something that we can recognize as our own, even if the story is sometimes tragic and often deeply conflicted.

Svosve Road is a small road in Chitungwiza, a populous city in Zimbabwe that has been my home for seventeen years. I sometimes watch people walking up and down the road, moving along the moments of their lives. Even now, after all these troubles we have been through as a people, I am continually fascinated by the deeply tenacious, mythically-enduring quality life in this place. Despite what has happened in Zimbabwe, people still walk along the road laughing, flirting, and fighting just as people do everywhere. These days, I see this road as a symbol - a river - and we who walk and live along it keys in waiting, left here by the currents of social, political and economic forces so much larger than us.

I remember those who walk on this road who are now in other worlds. Picked up in the current, they have been dispersed. I wonder where - even whether - they are, and if their lives have been fulfilled. Someday, they may return. Most probably, they will not. There are many who, lost in the turbulence of our world, are already dead. Washed away, they are the shiny keys to the past, present and future, covered, hidden under layers of silt. Thus, I meditate on the world in which I, too, participate, though with little deftness and with frequent reminders of my own inconsequence.

This symbol of lost keys cast into a river, of meanings and lives displaced, flows through the stories in this volume. The themes describe the lives of Zimbabweans, both here and abroad. And, though KEYS IN THE RIVER is certainly a poetic and resonant name, I still felt it, on its own, was not enough. So, with the help of my editors, Zach and Jennie Oliver, we created the subtitle, Notes from a Modern Chimurenga.

The Shona word, "chimurenga," translates as "struggle" in English. As with all translations, simply putting the word into English doesn't mean that the whole of the idea contained in the Shona word is comfortable in its new clothes. Regardless, the more I thought about the stories, the more appropriate the idea of "struggle" became as the human theme connecting these stories, at least as a point of entré. Perhaps, and more appropriately, given the use of the term, chimurenga, the important theme coursing through this work is this: Even when people are faced with a chaotic and turbulent world due to the machinations of despotic leaders, the terror of deathly pandemics, the chronic poverty, the human heart continues to pump with courage and conviction.

Chimurenga, then, is not just a struggle, but also a noble stance in the face of struggle. The two titles work hand in hand: The river is a path through life, and the keys symbolize the peak moments in this river of life. The moments may be good or of bad, things that make us roar with outrage or laugh like a child, even sing and dance. Each, I hope, will opening a life for someone, unlock another mystery of simply being.

When the subtitle, Notes from a Modern Chimurenga was added, we built up the manuscript with an additional fourteen stories. This made KEYS IN THE RIVER a "greatest hits" collection. Most, if not all these stories are real-life stories that I sometimes added to or embellished within the broader confines of fiction, but I have kept the facts correct, or almost correct, so that someone reading this collection would know they are reading about real life in modern Zimbabwe.

There are stories set in the Zimbabwean country side of Nyanga where I was born and grew up, stories of Zimbabwean cities, especially Chitungwiza-Harare, where I lived for so many years, stories which touch on Mozambique and Botswana where I have been, and stories from South Africa where I lived as an expatriate for two and half years. The stories touch on the futility of dreams in a world of complex economic realities in which AIDS has affected almost every household. It spans from the pre-liberation years up to 2009. It also sprawls across different cultural systems, beliefs, and lives, but it still is fundamentally about the human struggle, the chimurenga.

Through all these pieces, I've tried to share my thoughts and opinions on politics, both in civics and in relationships. In all these pieces, I am trying to pull the reader along some path of thought with me to a named or implied conclusion. I found genuine inspiration in making the effort to open up a whole new world to readers, one which they can, I hope, populate with their own thoughts and feelings, one in which they might be able to experience the modern Zimbabwean chimurenga.

The biggest import of this novel, then, is how each of us, as human beings, go through all these potentially life-changing situations, regardless of our point of origin, on our journey to finding love, freedom, democracy, social justice, completeness, human and civil justice, happiness, economic emancipation, and satisfaction.

Tendai Mwanaka
Author of KEYS IN THE RIVER (Savant 2012)


June 28, 2012

When I first started writing TRAVELER'S REST back in 2005, it wasn’t my intention of writing a book. I had spent the last year and a half writing scripts for an Atlanta production company, my first paid gig as a writer. I enjoyed writing scripts, but I longed to writing stories. Given, the similar ruthlessness of both the book publishing and film-making worlds, I felt prepared.

A screenplay doesn’t really come to life unless it is produced. If it isn’t produced, the script might as well...
Continue reading...


June 14, 2012
Flush with success after receiving first place for poetry in the 2011 London Book Festival for WAVELENGTHS - The 2011 Savant Anthology of Poetry, we bring you FIFTY-EIGHT STONES - The 2012 Savant Anthology of Poetry!

FIFTY-EIGHT STONES presents thirty-four outstanding poems by eleven exceptional and many award-winning poets including Shawn Canon, Nadia Cox, Helen Doan, David Gemmell, Richard Hookway, Daniel S. Janik, Vivekanand Jha, Doc Krinberg, Julie McKinney, Francis Powell and Jean Yam...
Continue reading...

Alive and Aware, Living Life as It Really Is

June 4, 2012

ON MY BEHALF was never meant to be published. It was merely a journal for my venting. Nothing formal. My intent was to bring my life to light to myself and hopefully band-aid some old gaping wounds.

As I was writing, however, I had an epiphany. I thought ever-so-reluctantly: What if my story mattered to someone, even helped them to realize things about themselves that would have otherwise been swept under the rug and ignored? Wouldn’t that be worth publishing? It suddenl...

Continue reading...


May 6, 2012
As I mentioned just before Savant Books released my previous novel, MANIFEST INTENT, I had returned to my roots as a lawyer after my first novel, the Hawaiian thriller KANAKA BLUES.  My newest work, RULES OF PRIVILEGE, stays in that world, but strays from the environment of the big law firm into the orbit of solo practitioners, who sometimes struggle just to stay afloat. 

While the problems of large and small firms often are radically different, all lawyers, no matter the size of their firms,...
Continue reading...

BLOOD MONEY - The Ultimate Collection of Post-Modern Short Stories

February 28, 2012
In my opinion, an outstanding short story collection is the crowning glory of post-modern literature, and as proof, I offer my readers BLOOD MONEY - TALES FROM TWO CONTINENTS.

Each story is complete, but together, transcends individuality to timelessness and immortality. A dramatic vision of humankind's greatness and shortcomings, BLOOD MONEY takes on Love, Regret, Lust, Revenge, Hopelessness, Hope, Security, Adventure, Frustration and Acceptance. In my stories, it's the characters' uniquely ...
Continue reading...

Riots, Rock and Roll, Casual Drugs and Recreational Sex

February 15, 2012
Forty years ago, during the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement, a large number of students at the University of California at Santa Barbara rose up in outright rebellion, burning down a branch of the Bank of America and clashing with police in three separate riots. The Isla Vista Crucible  takes place at the university and the nearby student community of Isla Vista during that tumultuous 1969-1970 academic year. The story follows three roommates trying to live and enjoy their student liv...
Continue reading...

Not-So-Random Views of Asia from the Mid-Pacific

February 1, 2012
RANDOM VIEWS OF ASIA FROM THE MID-PACIFIC weaves together a series of analyses focused on contemporary events in the Asia-Pacific region.

This book is best seen as a learning tool to help both the general reader and Asia specialist to better understand the complexion of the region and true dynamics of individual events. Newspaper articles, internet commentary, political discussions and debates come excitingly alive, and suddenly relevant, meaningful, and understandable.

Of course, that alone ...
Continue reading...


November 10, 2011

An action/adventure novel about global petro-power-greed, THE OIL MAN features John Marx, an offshore oil derrick supervisor who unknowingly holds the keys to that power as well as to his, his family and friends' lives or deaths. An amateur conspiracy theorist, he, his wannabe James Bondish friend, Josh Platur, and his devoted wife, Anne, nonetheless have no idea as to why or what it is all really about. Not until Marx begins uncovers the threads of a real conspiracy, each of which exacts its...
Continue reading...

First Call to COMMUNION

October 1, 2011

When Edward Commons left his family - wife Melanie and daughter Gem – to go off to war in Germany during World War II, it was for love of country, patriotism and an overwhelming desire to participate.

Just as being a soldier fulfilled Edward's sense of duty, his wife Melanie set out to fulfill her duty to maintaining their family. Melanie’s talent as an artist helped secure a job in an airplane factory painting icons on the P40’s that rolled off the assembly line.  Two years into the wa...
Continue reading...

New Product/Publication Blog

Daniel S. The place to read about soon-to-be-published, published and just-released Savant books and publications including book excerpts.


a. g. hayes abortion abuse acceptance action addict adolescence adolescent adventure africa aguilera aids alaska alcoholism alien allergy allery america american amnesia angeles animals annual anthology aphrodite apollo army arrows arthritis artist asia assassin assassination assimilation asthma atomic attack attorney australia author autism autobiography award-winning bahrain barbara beauty bibi biology birth blackmail blood blues boat bomb bond book book award botswana brinckmann broadway bully business california called cambodia canada candle casino cat cerebrus chan chaos charlie chicago child children children's children's book chimurenga china choirboy college color coloring coloring book combat comedy comic coming-of-age communion community computer con conspiracies conspiracy cop country courage court courtroom creative crime criminal culture curiosity current curtain dairy dallas dance dancesport dark davis december 7 delune democracy derrick desert desire desperate destiny diary discovery doe dolleris dragon drama drifters drug drugs easter eccentric ecology education emancipation environment epidemic epiphany europe events evil extremist family fantasy farm fbi fear festival ficker fiction film financial fishermen fishing freedom frustration gardner gates gay generations german germany gloria god great depression great southwest book festival award guevara hawaii hawaiian heal health heroin hilo hiv hollywood hollywood bowl home homophobic honolulu hope hopelessness humor humpback i ii illegal illness illustrated imminent danger independence india indian indies inequality inspiration inspire intelligence internet interzone iran isla island jamaica janik japan jean jihad journal journalism joy jumper justice kanaka kaufman kerouac kidnap killer killing fields kim kobayashi korea koski and falk la la book festival award lacrosse langford language law lawyer lazarus learning legend liberation light london loony loss louisiana love lover luau lust mafia magic mail carrier maltese man mana marilyn marriage maui memoir memoirs meningitis merlin mexico mia minister mitzvah money monroe mosambique motorbike movie murder music mystery naive native navy near-death nerd nevada new york news reporter newspaper non-fiction norma norma jean novel nuclear oahu of offshore oil oliver outback pacific panacea paradise park rangers parrot party passion past-life pearl harbor pennsylvania perfect crime perilous pessoa petrodollars petroleum pirate plutonium poetry police political politics ponca poor pope post office post-modern power prodigy producer professor program prophet psychiatrist psychology psychosis psychotherapist publish puerto rico puissegur purple haze reactor rebirth recovery redemption regret reincarnation relationship religion renewal resilience revenge revolutionary rheumatic rheumatoid rich riots rock rock-star rodness roll romance rose rural russia santa satire savant scam schizophrenia schumann science scientists screwball script seaburn secret security seeking senate serial sex short skull slaves sleeper code social justice soul south africa sovereignty spirit spiritual spy stage state park stone stories sufi suicide surfer surgeon surgery survival taiwan tale tame teaching technology teen tennessee terrorist texas the chemical factor the woman therapist third world thriller today tokyo tony toronto transform transformative travel trial turtle tva u2 ugliness ukraine unborn uncertainty unicorn university vampire venezuela viet nam vietnam village violence virus vista war warlock wartime washington weapon werecat werewolf whale wisconsin witch woman women wonder woodcut world writer ww ii ymer zimbabwe 1940

Translate This Page

Make a Free Website with Yola.