The launch of NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel ‘We Need New Names’ at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on September 17 was a memorable occasion. It had been a long while since the gallery had hosted such a crowd, with over 300 people packing into the courtyard to welcome NoViolet home and to hear her in conversation with Dr Drew Shaw of the National University of Science and Technology. To use NoViolet’s words:
'Bulawayo came out proper with a crowd of close to 300, i'm made to understand, and gave me the launch of my dreams even as i had been told that folks in the City of Kings don't come out much anymore. very honored by the presence of many people i admire, and the many i do not know, who saw me worthy of their time and ears and hearts. then there was Ericah Gwetai (mother of the late Yvonne Vera, who found me in a room before the launch and sang me a song, dlala nkazana ♥). if you see me walk like i own the earth, forgive me because i'm suffering from too much love, from a small, proud place that came out big to show me who they were, and who i was. that was not a launch, it was a baptism, and Bulawayo, blue eyed city you, home of my girlhood you, you Bulawayo, ngiyazendlala on your feet with gratitude, thank you kabanzikazi.'
The launch was organised by ’amaBooks Publishers, the British Council – Zimbabwe, the Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo and Bulawayo Agenda. The book is published by Weaver Press in Zimbabwe and distributed by ’amaBooks in Bulawayo.
The link to the soundcloud recording of NoViolet Bulawayo's conversation with Drew Shaw during the Bulawayo launch of We Need New Names is below.
Photographs courtesy of Lene Lauritsen and Intwasa Arts Festival koBulwayo