As someone we quite admire (for depicting and challenging gender and sexuality norms within his writing) we thought Tendai would be a great guy to have as one of our first featured men on Her Zimbabwe. He’s not a man of many words, but still we enjoyed his witty responses to our questions!
Here’s what Tendai (TH) had to say to us (HZ)…
HZ: Tell us a bit about yourself, your history and present day work.
TH: My history? Who am I? Hebert Chitepo or something? There isn’t much to say about me so I’ll give you my boxing stat: I hail from Bindura, weighing in at an astonishing 75 kilos, height 170cm, reach unknown. Zero matches, Zero KO’s.
HZ: You are a podiatrist by profession, what are some of the worst cases of feet problems you’ve ever seen? (don't hold back!)
TH: This interview keeps getting more and more bizarre… diabetic foot ulcers.
HZ: How do you mix your day job with your love of the arts?
TH: My patients are a captive audience for the half hour I’m with them. If you’ve got a scalpel to someone’s foot, it’s amazing how you can get them to talk about literature and agree with your views on the early McEwan vs late McEwan debate. (Disclaimer: the last half of this answer was plagiarised from Shtyengart)
HZ: How is ‘The Hairdresser of Harare’ doing in terms of sales and publicity?
TH: It’s doing okay.
HZ: Are you happy with its progress overall?
TH: I’m seldom satisfied.
HZ: How has the book been received in Zimbabwe?
TH: It has had a few enthusiastic readers but there’s a general state of antipathy to literature in Zimbabwe from which no novelist can escape.
HZ: Now, you write the book from the perspective of the female protagonist. How easy or hard was that do, considering you aren’t a woman? What did you to try to get the voice right?
TH: I’ve known a few women in my day. Hell, one even gave birth to me. I’m familiar with them so it wasn’t that hard. Getting the voice right – there is no singular, universal female voice that I had to try and imitate, so that wasn’t an issue.
HZ: The book also tackles a topic which is taboo in Zimbabwe, homosexuality. What made you incorporate this into your novel?
TH: As an author, you’re always looking for something a little different to what you’ve read before; an alternative view of the everyday world.
HZ: Your advice for Zimbabwean men and Zimbabwean women…
TH: I’m not good at taking advice so I’d never give any.
Thanks for making time for our cause, Tendai!
The photograph of Tendai is courtesy of himself.