Ndhlalas Jikinya is an eponymous novel whose main character is based on the Shona mythological dance, jikinya hence the title Jikinya. The girl character at the center of the novel is a white child born of the early European Settlers in Zimbabwe. She is nurtured and raised to be one of the best traditional dancers among the Ngara- Shona people after the death of her parents in a war between the Europeans and the African Indigenous people.
The name which is titular is also symbolical of the unifying Zimbabwean Cultural dance which some scholars argue to be mythical. Through the adoption of a foreign girl to be an embodiment of Shona cultural aspects, one might argue that Geoffrey is bringing out the inclusivity of our culture that is non-racial, receptive and tolerant.
The novel marvels at the precolonial life encapsulated in the Ngara people led by the wise and visionary old man Tichafa whose name if translated to the vernacular speaks of the proverbial impending deaths. The author brings out a village or society not detached from other societies but complete and wholesome with no need for exterior influence for its progressive normalcy has not only brought Unity but also maintained peace to the extent that war is alien to the villagers evidenced by Chedus confession in the first chapter when he is greatly disturbed by the dead bodies lying on the ground to which he confesses that in Ngara such bodies were to be seen only when there is a deadly disease outbreak.
Geoffrey is therefore elevating the Shona culture for its wholesomeness (state of completeness) and the attributes alien to the white people which John marvels at. In the novel, the author brings out these aspects which are praiseworthy:
-maintaining of peace in the valley
-upholding of morality
-respect, love and companionship
-tolerance and non-racial conductor
-reconciliation and forgiveness
-attempts on gender equality
-handling of internal conflicts
-flexibility in racial integration
-internalized religion (intrinsically sourced)
These among other attributes are elevated by Geoffrey and the fact that change is seen at the end of the novel but only at the hands of white mans interference not only affirms the completeness of the Shona Culture that needed no exterior influence but also exposes the Supremacist and destructive Colonialist mindset which disrupted the state of living in the village. Thus, the author in chronicling the impact of the coming in of white people begins by exposing the disruption of a complete society whose salient survival is on conscious effort of the maintenance of peace, and as Tichafa puts it, peace was not a hand-me-down phenomenon but a village effort towards tolerance.
The tragic heroic act of rescuing Jikinya which ironically results in her death is symbolical since she is an embodiment of the unifying Shona Dance. This then can be argued to be the end of the previously mentioned attributes applauded by Geoffrey in his text Jikinya.
The use of the word rescue suggests that Jikinya was being ill-treated, abused and had been abducted yet the opposite is true and Ironically the attempted act of rescuing her meant a violation of her freedom. The assumption that she did not belong to the uncivilized Village made by the contemptuous and arrogant captain is Condescending, Derogatory, Racist and brings out the Whites.
Chapter 1 Jikinya
The story begins with a chronicle of African history which then boils down to the sad chronicle of the precolonial era in Zimbabwe.
Ndhlala pens down through flashback how the Europeans had trudged into the heart of Africa as missionaries, hunters, and gold diggers.
The novel also touches on African resistance done to retrieve that which they had lost.
Through the use of concrete diction, the author captures the loss of lives during the struggle to repossess their lost land and crushed pride. With this vivid description, the author creates and anger in the reader at the sight of dead African bodies sprawling on their beloved land.
The description of the white people is the people without feet and knees can be said to be diminutive and ridiculing to further hammer how alien they were in the land.
There is also the use of symbolism to bring out the African culture shown through the beating of the drum.
The author vividly describes how the blacks were defeated by the whites making reference to the Anglo- Ndebele war. The straying of animals in the forests, lions and hyenas preying upon them brings about the theme of Loss. The author makes use of a metaphorical expression when he describes it as the return of the beast symbolically denoting the return of the white mans rule with their guns plundering the indigenous people.
Through the use of third person narrative Ndhlala brings out Mr. Wilsons acidic attitude towards the local people as he regards them as serfs and him a racist ironically in a country not his own. He thanks God for giving him a white skin connotatively insinuating that a black skin was a curse and inferior. This racial slur is deemed to be racist and supremacist in nature. He is therefore racist, adamant and arrogant.
The issue of tradition and superstition is also brought out through the peoples belief in the evil spirits that dwelled in the mountains. These beliefs transcended even to the white visitors who preferred to walk long distances other than to walk through the sacred places… preferred to exhaust their efforts on less terrifying territories