Yvonne Vera, Noviolet Bulawayo, and the Imminence of Dreaming Air
The book’s final chapter returns to the novel to trace a history of Zimbabwean women conjuring flight. The starting point is the 1898 execution of the Shona prophet and spirit medium, Nehanda, who is said to have departed from her body before the British could place the noose around her neck, which in turn galvanized the nation’s First Chimurenga against settler colonial rule. The chapter considers the afterlives of Nehanda’s fugitive time consciousness in Yvonne Vera’s Without a Name (1994) and NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names (2013), novels that feature women imagining in advance what it would feel like to be free of violence and alienation. These proleptic imaginings in turn are read as a national allegorical desire. In their formations of fugitive time, these novels reimagine a historically prescribed nationalism, showing how women can have a constitutive voice and how nation can be forged in diaspora.