Judith Mawoko reads from her memoir “From the Frying Pan into the Fire” at McLennan Library book launch April 30

Judith Mawoko
Tom Henihan
Express Staff


Local author Judith Mawoko will hold a book launch, introducing her recently published memoir “From the Frying Pan into the Fire,” at McLennan Municipal Library on April 30.

Mawoko is originally from Zimbabwe where she taught high school English for ten years before moving to Canada approximately 17 years ago. In Canada, she taught in Ontario and Calgary before taking a teaching position at Ecole Providence in April 2015.

“From the Frying Pan into the Fire,” which focuses on the years 1972 to 1979, tells the story of Mawoko’s life growing up in a village in Zimbabwe from the time she was 7 to 14-years of age.

“I chose this title because I was tracing the turbulent history of my country from a 15 years civil war to a 37-year dictatorship,” says Mawoko. “I describe life in the village before the full impact of the war, during the war, and after the war between blacks and whites,” says Mawoko. “This was also the period when the 15 years civil war to end colonialism, was most intense.”

Being an avid reader of literature inspired Mawoko to pursue a degree with English as her major. She studied writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, D. H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy as well as African and American authors and she still prefers to read than watch TV.

When it came to writing her own book, she believed the memoir would be a good place to begin.

“My inspiration to write this memoir came from the fact that I have experienced life from two extremes, from a village in Africa to the hectic life in the large metropolis, Toronto,” she says. “As I was writing, at the back of my mind I was comparing a child’s life here and now, to my life as a child in Africa in the 1970s.”

Her primary objective in writing the book is to enlighten people about life in Zimbabwe and to correct many of the misconceptions that persist about life in Africa, such as always seeing the region in the context of poverty, disease, crime and war.

“First and foremost I’m an educator, so I wrote this book to educate. People will learn about Zimbabwe’s political history and social culture from the perspective of an indigenous Zimbabwean,” she says. “Young generations in my family and in my country will learn about where we came from, compared to where we are today, and possibly learn from past mistakes, in order to move the country forward.”

Mawoko says that she wrote “From the Frying Pan into the Fire,” also to entertain. Having often read books that she couldn’t put down because the suspense and the descriptive language that makes everything come alive intrigued her and that she tried to achieve that in her book.

“I tried to write a story that is interesting, memorable, authentic and honest,” says Mawoko. “I also wrote it to inspire others to write their own stories. There is something unique about every person’s life.”

It took 6 months to write the book and Mawoko says she enjoyed the writing process, which was like reliving the past.

Of course, there were also things in her life that were painful to write about and she says that she cried while writing about those instances and events.

Teachers and students of African history, black history, or the history of any native people around the world, will find “From the Frying Pan into the Fire,” captivating, as will anyone with an interest in social history and cultural heritage.

“The book gives an honest and balanced account of life in Zimbabwe,” says Mawoko “When I look back to the village life, I don’t remember poverty. I remember the joy of a united community celebrating the gift of life. Many people ask me whether I would ever go back to Africa. The answer is yes and I do visit home quite often.”

Judith Mawoko’s book launch takes place at the McLennan Library at 7pm on Monday, April 30, and the author will be pleased to sign copies of her book, which will be for sale at that time.


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