Chenjerai Hove: Characterization

At harvest time, no one eats from the fields before the rituals of offering the new crops to the ancestors are performed. Your father holds the large mealie cobs and tells the ancestors that it is not his hands holding the cobs but theirs. It is their voices which commanded the crops to grow. He prays for better harvests every year and gets them. He prays for no deaths in the family and his prayers are answered, since there is no grave yet near the new homestead. For many years you grow up thinking that death is for other people, not you and your sisters and brothers. Death is far away from you. Graves are distant things: you only hear about it in folktales. They are like distant clouds in the dry season.

'This land,' you hear your father's voice say. 'The graves of my fathers, if only they were here,' he says only rarely, when his heart is in discomfort, at night. [Ancestors, Harare: College Press Publishers, 1996, 18]

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