Interview: We Sat Down with Alicyn Vye Henningway to Discuss Nyika, I Love You

We are thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and interview Alicyn Vye Henningway, who recently moved to Marbella and has quickly become an integral part of our international community on the Costa del Sol. Her pen name is a heartfelt tribute to her beloved grandmothers, from whom she inherited her first two names, Alice  and Vye. The surname “Henningway” comes from her father’s frequent admonition during her upbringing: “Do it the Henning way, or don’t do it at all,” emphasizing the values of thoroughness, diligence, and hard work.

Her book, Nyika, I Love You, has achieved bestseller status not only locally but internationally. It was voted a bestseller at the Bookshop in La Cañada shopping center in Marbella, featured on Casa del Libro’s “Favourite Choice” shelf, and became a bestseller at Kinokuniya Book Stores in Bangkok, Asia. The book has also made appearances at major book fairs across Europe and the Middle East. Though currently offline, a second edition will be released in mid-September 2024, featuring press reviews and edits by award-winning writer and journalist Geoff Hill. For more details, visit her website: Alicevyehenningway.com.

Writing under the pen name Alice Vye Henningway, she leaves a lasting impression with her outspoken nature, unique sense of humor, and mischievous grin. She is quintessentially Zimbabwean, a characteristic that may intrigue those unfamiliar with the culture.

Alice’s childhood in former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was far from typical. Growing up in the Savé Valley Conservancy, a 750,000-hectare wildlife sanctuary established by her parents, she experienced a life rich in authenticity and adventure. She witnessed the largest elephant translocation in history, where over 500 elephants were moved 900 kilometers to save their lives. One of these elephants, named Tiny, became her pet before being released back into the wild to start his own family. The book beautifully describes these experiences.

Her caretaker, Nyika—a term meaning “child of the wilderness, people of the land, and the world”—was a Shona woman who saved Alice’s life multiple times during attacks by “freedom fighters” amid the civil war. At 24, due to increasing dangers in her homeland, Alice left Zimbabwe, joining many others seeking safety across the border. She survived an attempted rape and murder, a harrowing experience that ultimately led to her departure. Alice, an 8th generation African, eventually settled in Cape Town, South Africa, where she became a successful entrepreneur in the events industry. Later, she moved to Germany, met her future husband Paul, and ultimately, they settled in Marbella, Spain. Alice has a daughter, Kate van Maanen, and four extra daughters: Sunny, Niks, Fiepsta, and Ciel. All are talented, well-mannered, gorgeous, and driven women.

In a recent exciting development, Alicyn has been approached by a renowned Los Angeles film production company to adapt her book into a film, the production company is called – “Market Street Productions.”The first press event for this project will take place in Marbella in July 2024. Film producer Stacy Ekstein will be flying in from LA, and we shall be interviewing her further, so watch this space for more news! Stacy Ekstein is the co-founder of Market Street Productions.

In addition to her literary and cinematic accomplishments, Alice is passionate about education, recognizing it as a tremendous privilege. This commitment is reflected in her support for the Savé Valley Conservancy’s collaboration with local communities. One such initiative is the Classroom Construction Fundraiser for Takunda Secondary School, located near the conservancy in Ward 24 of Bikita District, Masvingo Province, under Chief Budzi.

Currently, Takunda Secondary School serves 364 students but struggles with overcrowded classrooms—102 Form 1 students in one room and 96 Form 2 students in another. The construction of a new block with two classrooms aims to alleviate this situation. Although the school has started the construction process, they need additional support to complete it.

Alice encourages everyone to get involved with this project, as every donation makes a significant impact. Your assistance will help build a new classroom, enhancing the educational environment for these students. We extend our heartfelt gratitude for your generous contributions to this cause.

For more information and to donate, please visit here or opt for Direct Deposit: Savé Valley Conservancy, Ecobank Account number: 5783600041452.

We are proud to welcome such an extraordinary individual to our community. Spain is indeed a wonderful place to inspire and nurture creativity. Stay tuned for the interview to follow.


Q & A with Alice Vye Henningway

Q: What inspired you to write Nyika, I Love You? A: My inspiration came from a deep love for my homeland and a desire to share the unique and rich experiences of my childhood. Growing up in the Savé Valley Conservancy provided me with endless stories and adventures, and I felt a strong urge to document and share these with the world. I also write because I really would like to be understood. You see if you are understood you can be loved.

Q: How did your upbringing in Zimbabwe shape your worldview? A: My upbringing in Zimbabwe instilled in me a profound respect for nature and wildlife. Living in such close proximity to animals and witnessing the challenges they face taught me about resilience and the importance of conservation. It also shaped my belief in the value of hard work and perseverance, principles my father often emphasized.

Q: Can you tell us more about the character Nyika and her significance in your life? A: Nyika, whose name means “child of the wilderness etc,” was more than a caretaker; she was a guardian angel who protected me during some of the most dangerous times of my life. Her bravery and wisdom were instrumental in my survival and have left a lasting impact on me. She embodies the spirit of the Zimbabwean people and their connection to the land. She was my second mother.

Q: What challenges did you face while writing your book? A: Writing Nyika, I Love You was both cathartic and challenging. Reliving some of the traumatic events of my past was difficult, but it was also a necessary part of the healing process. Additionally, balancing the authenticity of my experiences with the need to create a compelling narrative was a delicate task.

Q: How do you feel about the upcoming film adaptation of your book? A: I am incredibly excited about the film adaptation. It’s a dream come true to see my story brought to life on the big screen. I am particularly thrilled to work with such a talented production team and look forward to the new dimensions they will bring to the story. I connect with Stacy, very well. I respect her.

Q: Can you share your vision for the future of Takunda Secondary School? A: Our vision, if I may boldly say, for Takunda Secondary School is to provide a safe and conducive learning environment for all students. I hope to see the completion of the new classrooms and continued support for educational initiatives in the region. Education is a powerful tool for change, and I believe it can significantly improve the lives of these students and their communities. Supporting our communities ensures that we make a link between wildlife and people, and this is extremely valuable on all levels.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers? A: My advice to aspiring writers is to stay true to your voice and your story. Write with honesty and passion, and don’t be afraid to share your unique perspective with the world. Writing is a journey, and persistence is key. Keep honing your craft and never give up on your dreams. Don’t write to be liked. Write to be loved.

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