By Farai Katoma
Alice Vye Henningway has a captivating personality.
It is clear she is a survivor.
It is also clear she is approachable and open to discussing confronting questions and emotions without losing her cool.
Pranayama is breathing; she says and laughs.
She draws you in from the moment you meet her, just like her book has done for its readers.
A Zimbabwean-born and raised storyteller, she has launched her book onto the world stage and into a global welcoming audience.
It has been well received in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, America, Bangkok, Australia, UK, Holland, UAE, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal so far, judging from the response on Amazon.
“Nyika, I Love you”.
According to Alice, the purpose of her story (and global campaign www.dontdroptheball.org) is to verb assign and add a measure to a message with profound meaning; one of hope, faith, love and resilience.
A further reminder to go the extra mile for our home planet, earth.
Bite off more than you can chew and get motivated; get involved.
“For the people of Zimbabwe & its fauna and flora. The option to give up is never an option at all. Doing the right thing might not make you famous, but it will surely make you sleep better at night,” she said.
“To remind the world that Zimbabwe still exists and that Zimbabwe has an abundance of culture, art, minerals, and extravagant getaways. That Zimbabwe is a country filled with wonderful people. Good always triumphs over evil. Always. Zimbabwe will not go forgotten!”
“To say thank you to Nyika and so many women like her for how much she did for me and how she was my second mother. How she helped shape me into the woman I am today by instilling fundamental core qualities in a strong heart. By shielding me, she saved my life. Who has ever done that for you? It’s a message of deep solitude and togetherness at one time.” She added.
Through her book, Alice would like to emphasize the importance of investing in the health of our planet whilst simultaneously celebrating and holding in high esteem all the wonderful and truly unique people that made the Save Valley Conservancy a reality. Something that Zimbabwe can be proud of.
The Conservancy is now world-famous, bursting at the seams with Africa’s best in their natural environment, developing at Nature’s Pace and not Man’s Race. (In addition, she shares a story of how her family valued the principles of sustainability).
“I hold dear the way I was brought up, never having to question if my food was organic or not. I took that as a given. I am forever humbled looking in the rearview mirror.
I am forever grateful for all that space and those experiences with the African Wildlife and its people, which will remain in my heart for eternity.”
About the book:
“Nyika, I Love You” powerfully displays the bush war’s struggle, chaos and heartbreak. Alice, referred to as Joanna in the book, tells her story in a first-person narrative to describe how she found security, love and comfort in Nyika, her maid, her confidant and her best friend.
What appeals to me the most about the book “Nyika I Love You” is that Alice’s story is raw; she does not hold back and try to draw a veil over the confronting scenarios of this particular period in History. This book is a book of Historical Fiction, of course.
Alice, strongly recommends you read the History of the Shangaans toward the end of the book, where it clearly explains the outline of their migration and History.
Her book is filled with definitive descriptions of bona fide and authentic circumstances based on personal experiences. She vividly describes the two women’s life at the Ngwane ranch, Joanna’s home and later The Save Valley Conservancy – Chishakwe. As Alice says, It may no longer belong to us, but we will always belong to Chishakwe and The Save Valley Conservancy.
Paying particular attention to how Nyika taught Joanna (Alice) survival techniques and skills in the African bush during and after the war. How Joanna (Alice) taught Nyika some skills of her own. It was a relationship of give and take. Whereby one did not overlap the other.
In addition, Joanna(Alice) learnt how to celebrate the Shangaan culture in all its glory, embrace the whole of Africa, and not just skim the surface—not remain a guest. Joanna (Alice) got to the very marrow of what being called an African meant.
Nyika inculcated solid principles that led Joanna (Alice) to become the woman she is today.
“Nyika would be so proud, I am sure”, said Alice. Nyika taught her staying power, noun-bearing hardship and perseverance; this is how Alice (Joanna) views African women to date.
“African women are undoubtedly my all-time anchor. A calmness and tranquillity come over me when I engage with them. Strength does not have to be loud. I feel at home. It stills my anxiety. The story shows love so pure that it endures situations where most people would have given up.”
Joanna’s (Alice) family existed harmoniously with the Shona community during the war in their tribal trust lands. Where they lived together productively on every level, they empowered the people with jobs to make a living for their families. Her family embraced how the Shona people lived and vice versa.
They supported one another. Living that remotely would have been pure stupidity not to do so. Not to mention, one would have missed out on so much cultural importance.
Joanna’s (Alice) family built long-lasting relationships with the Shona, so much so that the Shona community translocated with them when it became clear that it was time to move. Without a second thought or any doubt.
The story includes the move from Ngwane ranch to Mkwasine, then to Chiredzi, then to Mas Vegas (Masvingo), a brief stint in Pietersburg at boarding school, Mutare Hillcrest College and finally Devuli and its magnificent transition from a cattle ranch of 800 000 hectares, into the world’s largest privately owned Conservancy.
Because of Joanna’s (Alice) genuine and fearless love for African nature and wildlife, Joanna (Alice) was an active participant in rescuing many of these injured animals. So much so that all wounded animals were bought to Joanna at her house, where she nursed them back to health, sometimes fortunate and other unfortunate.
In addition, she utilized many skills taught to her by the Shona Game Ranger and Tracker.
While explaining their most outstanding achievements at the Conservancy, Joanna (Alice) mentioned the massive feet and operations taken to “Save 500 plus African Elephants in the largest translocation of African Elephant ever undertaken in the History of saving this magnificent species, transporting them 900 km. None died.
Now they are living the life they should be! ” Unfortunately, the gentleman’s name who orchestrated this event with my father fails to come to mind. My apologies; he deserves a medal.”
She further explained that her father, brother and the Shona community built the Chishakwe Dam (on the Conservancy at Head Quarters) after experiencing the most severe drought in 1992.
There was a need to learn how to do this. However, a well-stocked library in Mutare helped them out. That is a trait so inherently, Zimbabwean…” make a plan” what do you mean it’s not possible? Of course, we can do it! Now let’s get on with it! “We were bought up believing we could do anything. We were taught to think out of the box long before it became terminology”, said Alice.
The Chishakwe dam is still functional to this day. It was stocked with crocodiles, hippos and bream. The Chief and her father/brother had foreseen the water shortages at the Conservancy. Therefore, they created a sustainable water supply while utilizing all available resources.
Although this tale is about love and hope, it does not downplay the devastating consequences of the shrapnel left behind in war-torn countries and the effects on the human psyche—the monumental loss and encompassing grief that clings to one’s soul.
From grief comes anger which few can comprehend. Living far from one’s roots always makes you feel tree-less, even if you bear fruit. However, Alice being a positive person, reminds us that even out of a devasting bush war, beauty prevailed in the building of The Save Valley Conservancy.
This proves that Zimbabweans can work and live side by side and create staggeringly magnificent masterpieces to prove any analogy that may rock the boat.
The narrative continues until Joanna (Alice) and Nyika are forced to split ways, or are they? You will have to read the book to find out…..
Alicyn’s desire to preserve wildlife and nature has been the driving force to want to build a better world. Some of her work includes the www.dontdroptheball.org campaign in conjunction with her book launch.
This campaign, and many more initiatives, aims to reduce the demand for wildlife, counter wildlife trafficking, and protect wildlife and natural habitats, amongst others; please see the links below.
Her energy knows no limit; you cannot help but feel uplifted and motivated to do better for our planet after meeting her. I was impressed. Most of all, she is kind, and as she says, kindness is contagious!
visit www.dontdroptheball.org and www.endpandemics.earth
Nyika, I love you has been selected for the Frankfurt book fair in Germany. This is the most significant book fair in the world.
Alice is also hosting readings from Australia Sydney, where she met with Anton Enus (Who is a regular facilitator at the Sydney and Adelaide Writer Festivals & a journalist and author in his own right); he has since posted her book onto his social media.
In addition, Alice has completed readings from Spain to Bangkok. Thank you for putting Zimbabwe on the map!
By empowering one another, there will never be a reason for a weak link.
-Alice Vye Henningway-