Extract: Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo

Discover the story of an uprising told by a bold, vivid chorus of animal voices in Glory, longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2023.

Paperback book, Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo, standing upright against a blue background


Being that His Excellency was arrived, the Jidada Army Band started playing. Blood-​stirring music accompanied the procession as it poured onto the main part of the square. The Jidada army, just like the rest of the security forces, was made up entirely of dogs. And now, dogs, dogs, dogs and more dogs marched towards the tent, shimmering black boots lifting and landing with stunning synchronicity. Tholukuthi there were pure breeds and mixed breeds and cross breeds and mysterious breeds of no certain classification. Tholukuthi there were dogs in green tunics, dogs in khaki tunics, dogs in blue tunics. Tholukuthi there were dogs playing musical instruments, dogs flying the flag of Jidada, dogs flying the military flags and dogs toting long, glinting guns.

It is often easy to forget the beauty and grace of a dog – a creature that can rip flesh into chunks, spill blood out of sheer impulse, crush bone like it were fragile China, hump anything from a human leg to a car tyre to a tree trunk to a sofa, all without a single grain of shame, shit all over the place as if it excretes unadulterated gold, be faithful to its master even if that master were a known brute, murderer, sorcerer, tyrant, or devil, viciously attack without apparent provocation, devour human excrement no matter how well fed it is.

But at that moment in Jidada Square on the occasion of the nation’s Independence celebration, tholukuthi the dogs were simply magnificent.

You wouldn’t have known they were in fact sweating and drowning in the hot, heavy tunics that also covered tattered underwear that barely held together what needed holding. You wouldn’t have known the soles of their boots were worn, or that the majority of them were actually famished being that they hadn’t been paid their salaries for at least the previous three months.


Much later, after the dogs had concluded their display and marched off the field, and after speeches from the Minister of the Revolution, the Minister of Corruption, the Minister of Order, the Minister of Things, the Minister of Nothing, the Minister of Propaganda, the Minister of Homophobic Affairs, the Minister of Disinformation and the Minister of Looting, and after performances by various entertainers, the donkey nudged His Excellency awake. The Father of the Nation opened his eyes and woke from his dream of Jidada’s days of glory but found he couldn’t at all remember it. He was struggling with his memory thus when his eyes settled on a fancy-looking pig hinding to the platform with the stride of an ostrich. The Old Horse didn’t recognise him and wondered who he was. He fell asleep again, analysing the pig’s long legs.

The long, lean pig was none other than the one and only Prophet Dr O. G. Moses, founding leader of the famed Soldiers of Christ Prophetic Church of Churches. Most things in Jidada naturally included a prayer – that’s how come the charismatic Prophet, who was also Dr Sweet Mother’s spiritual adviser, was on the programme. Those who know about things said the pig’s church was the top evangelical sect in Jidada and boasted the largest following of congregants, not just in the nation but in the whole entire region – yes, tholukuthi a congregation that, according to those who know about things, wasn’t only inspired by the word of God but also by desperation, disillusionment, idiocy, frustration and a search for a lifeline – something, anything, to help the animals cope with the business of surviving a life that was daily becoming unlivable as Jidada’s economy struggled.

Prophet Dr O. G. Moses did indeed provide that something, that anything – through his gospel of hope and prosperity, through his famous line of miracle products that included anointing oils, and anointing water, anointing purses, anointing wallets, anointing underwear, anointing bricks, tholukuthi through prayer, through his rumoured awesome power to cast out the demon of poverty, through his blessed healing touch.

By the sheer force that was Jehovah-​Jireh alone, the Prophet promised to transform the miserable lives of the government-​forsaken Jidadans, and so the desperate masses flocked to the Soldiers of Christ Prophetic Church of Churches like flies to dung.

When those who know about things said the Prophet’s followers loved the pig to hell and back, tholukuthi they meant the Prophet’s followers loved the pig to hell and back. As it is he’d attended the celebrations in a private jet bought by the tithes from his flock so that you may have been forgiven to think his was a church full of the wealthy in a land of gold-​paved streets and homes packed with diamond-dust-speckled toilet paper.


Prophet Dr O. G. Moses leaned into the microphone and cleared his throat. Given his popularity, it was the case that any gathering on Jidada soil was bound to have a significant number of his followers in attendance, so that it was no surprise the throngs went berserk on seeing him. They were no longer patriots of the nation at a patriotic celebration, no, but believers in the redeeming and healing presence of God’s beloved son. The pig was certainly used to applause, but he’d never heard anything like the applause of that moment outside of his church; tholukuthi it surpassed the applause His Excellency himself had received not too long before. It rang and rang and would have continued had he not held up a white hanky for pause.

‘Before I pray, may I take this golden opportunity to thank the most God-fearing femal I know, our very own Dr Sweet Mother, for the honour of leading this great nation of ours in prayer on such a momentous occasion. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Good leaders are not born. Good leaders are not made. Good leaders, like the Father of the Nation, like our honourable First Femal and Dr Sweet Mother – come from none other than God himself. Who also tells us in his very own words in Romans thirteen, verse one, and I need you to hear me properly O Precious Jidadans; God, my Father, says: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. And now, with that precious word, most beloved Jidada, let us please bow our heads in Jesus’s name and thank the Almighty for the matchless gift of freedom for which we’re here gathered today, for the Liberators who delivered us from the colonizing devils, as well as for our God-given leaders who indeed make sure that we continue to live free every day and for all time. Let us pray!’

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more