The Train House at Lobengula by Fatima Kara
Fatima Kara is a Zimbabwean writer living in North Carolina. She has an MFA from Spalding University in Kentucky and was shortlisted for the 2021 Laxfield Literary Launch Prize. Her first novel, the Train House on Lobengula Street, grows from her childhood experiences in the Indian Muslim community in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). When not writing, Kara propagates fruit and nut trees and assists community leaders in planting them in schools and rural communities around Zimbabwe.
The Trainhouse on Lobengula Street centres on the Kassims, an Indian Muslim family living in Southern Rhodesia in the mid-20th century. In many ways, their experience is typical of their community at the time — managing rigid racial hierarchies and struggling to balance traditional Muslim culture with the fruits of modern life. These challenges are felt especially strongly by Kulsum, the family matriarch, who is determined to ensure a better future for her daughters.
Kulsum crosses the Indian Ocean to live with her in-laws in Bulawayo. Her world gradually opens up to reveal possibilities she never dreamed of—educating her daughters, establishing a thriving vegetable business, and building a house where she can raise her children. Yet those same dreams are threatened by a community unable to accept educated girls as anything other than outsiders, and her husband’s response is to arrange marriages for them in Uganda, thousands of miles away. Kulsum is determined to see how her daughters are faring for herself, though she must convince her husband and his family to see the merits of her journey and the life she’s working to create for them all.
The Train House on Lobengula Street is Part One of a compelling two-part story.
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