Hawa the Bus Driver by Richard S. Mabala

by Susan Abraham

If you suspect by now how despondent a gloomy Dar-es-Salaam bookshop is destined to make me feel at the happiest of moments – and you may read all about that here, then how more thrilling still, a treasured find like cheery pictures and comic tales that threaten to leap out at you; a Jack-in-the-box imagery of a trampoline jump in mid-air. Or better still, a secret pearl fastened to shadowy oyster walls.

In that vein, here then is another little book I stumbled on by accident in an ancient, daunting bookshop. Hawa the Bus Driver is one of a series of 3 ticklish tales written by the highly engaging Richard S. Mabala who also  sketches out stories on an exploited servant-girl and  a misunderstood farmer.

In Hawa, the bus-driver, the author presents an animated childlike story with serious adult themes. Hawa is a forward-thinking Tanzanian woman who lives in a rural slum but works as a bus-driver..the unthinkable in a male chauvanistic society. Her hard work, sheer physical strength and stern moral responsibility slowly turn male snobbery into devotion and respect as Hawa single-handedly battles drunkards and thieves on the night shift.

As she becomes fairly famous in the village for her tasty cakes sold with diligent duty each dawn, just before climbing up a bus and equally for her well-mustered bravery – she once saved a runaway bus from a crash – her husband becomes terribly jealous and Mabala through humorous dialogue portrays his insecurities as Hawa and her friends with careful cunning, help her wriggle out of this problem. Mabala deals with real-life in jest but does not hide danger in his plots. He clearly believes in happy-ever-after endings but only after tackling everyday problems that any reader could easily identify with. Through his comedy, he cleverly shrugs off idealism.

There is a touch of the quaint folktale with songs and poems… “Oh Hawa, Hawa the heroine, Don’t play with her, She has arms like baobab trees, she will squeeze you to death… Oh Hawa’s husband, Beware of your wife, Don’t play with her, She might eat you for breakfast… She might squeeze you to death…”

Richard S.Mabala, P.O. Box 15044,  Arusha, Tanzania.  ISBN: 9976-920-26-1


5 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for the review Suse. We so seldom come across local literature from Tanzania so this is a real treat! Hawa sounds like a plucky and fun protagonist! Had you heard about Richard Hawa or was it one of those synchronous things that sometimes happens at bookstores, where a book simply just calls out to you…you know?


  2. Sorry, I meant to type Richard S. Mabala.


  3. Posted by stanley on October 5, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I hv read ur books whn i was in form1,they are real good n they teach a lot!Where do you work ths days!?


  4. I have read your books like mabala the farmer whn i was in form four,they are real good n they teach a lot!that why we use in our daily syrabus.Good work brother


  5. Posted by Francis on May 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Good story


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