UK-based Zimbabwean author Masimba Musodza has written the first science fiction novel in ChiShona, the native language of the Shona people of Zimbabwe and Southern Zambia. And it tells the story of native beliefs clashing with corporate mad science.

MunaHacha Maive Nei is also the first chiShona novel available on the Kindle. According to the ImageNations blog, this is a huge step forward in a region where English, or a pidgin version of English, is still considered the "most common form of communication." Musodza, who's also the author of some detective novels and the novel The Man who turned into a Rastafarian, has lived in England since 2002. (ChiShona is a common enough language in England that it's used on official forms.)

Here's how Musodza's press release describes the novel:

MunaHacha Maive Nei weaves issues of greed & corruption, sustainable development, international corporate intrigue and concerns around bio-technology. Chemicals from a research station conducting illegal experiments begin to seep in to the local ecosystem, causing mutations in the flora and fauna. When a child is attacked by a giant fish, the villagers think it is an affronted mermaid-traditional custodian of the ecology- and seek to appease it according to the prescription of folk-lore. However, the reality of what is happening soon becomes evident, a reality more terrifying than any legend or belief.

MunaHacha Maive Nei was written for the next generation of ChiShona readers, taking a language that has long contended with encroaching westernisation into the modern world of information technology and new media. It was written in the United Kingdom, a country that considers ChiShona a language widely spoken enough to have official documents and information printed in. Musodza demonstrates a remarkable flair for ChiShona and overturns the notion that it is not possible to write "complicated stuff" in a language that is often shunned by the educated back home. Influenced by Professor Ngugi wa Thiongo's Decolonising the Mind, Musodza has been an advocate for the sustained use of African languages. (see this article here) It is his hope that MunaHacha Maive Nei will generate more than academic interest. The print edition will be published in the next few weeks by Coventry-based Lion Press Ltd.

[via Image Nations]