Registered under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

22 October 2023


 Beaven Tapureta - for Winzim Online



               Front cover of Between Starshine and Clay


Renowned US-based writer Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s non-fiction volume Between Starshine and Clay: Conversations from the African Diaspora (2022, Footnote Press) is a celebration of twelve black global celebrities in different fields. Among these great men and women is Zimbabwean civil rights activist Pastor Evan Mawarire of the unforgettable #ThisFlag movement.

As multi-layered as the book is, it is however the author’s continued search for what home really means to the Africans in Africa and in the diaspora.

Between Starshine and Clay’s portrayal of these much sought-after, high-profile people carries its own historical exclusivity enhanced by the author’s patient observation and research, resulting in these detailed, enlightening conversations.

Poet Claudia Rankine, documentary film-maker Xoliswa Sithole, Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison and Wole Soyinka, feature in the first section ‘The Creators’ while the second section, tagged ‘The Curators’, features  historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr, publisher Margaret Busby, Mrs Willard Harris, and actor and playwright Anna Deavere. They are ‘the curators’ who somehow have been on a mission “to find and gather our stories and histories, record them and make them accessible”.  These individuals have, in their different capacities, archived and told the usually under-told story of Africa and its diaspora, of women and children.

The third and last section, ‘The Changemakers’, features Michelle Obama who was the first Black American First Lady and an author too, parliamentarian Lord Michael Hastings, who has done great work in the United Kingdom to address the plight of the poor, the disadvantaged, and those in prison, civil rights activist Pastor Evan Mawarire who became a voice for the voiceless Zimbabweans during the late former president Robert Mugabe’s reign, and US Senator Cory Booker, a champion of equality and justice.

Manyika’s detailed personal story ‘Notes of a Native Daughter’ which follows  the insightful Foreword by Bernardine Evaristo makes  a testament of its own, an exploration  of what being an African means when looked  from different windows.

Having had the unusual opportunity to talk to her and review her books in the past few years, I am sure others agree she is a very passionate author devoted to probing the multi-dimensional meaning of home especially with regard to those of African descent wherever they may be. 

The twelve greats in the new book have their life experiences, ideas and convictions, whether political or literary or artistic, captured with liveliness which has now become the mark of the author.

In my past review of her debut novel In-Dependence (Weaver Press, 2014), I noted how the main character Tayo, a university African student in Britain,  falls in love and subsequently falls into a different kind of ‘home’ where he learns to explore his emotions more deeply.  The aspect of ‘home’ is very interesting. Reading Manyika’s non-fiction book is the same as viewing different dimensions which the meaning of ‘home’ has in the minds of black people scattered across the world. The magnitude of her inquiry into how it feels to be black or of African descent in a different society is heart-deep. No wonder Between Starshine and Clay starts out with this Hurston quote:


‘Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me

angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the

pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.’

– Zora Neale Hurston, How it Feels to be Colored Me


Some of the conversations are sub-divided into two parts, ‘On Meeting’ and ‘In Conversation’, others are singularly ‘In Conversation’ which are one-on-one interviews but still one gets enamoured by the openness, depth of emotion, the knowledge exchange between the interviewer and interviewee. The ‘On Meeting’ pieces show us Manyika at pleasure to observe, relate and describe outdoor and indoor particulars of her subject.

In fact, she acknowledges, “This book has emerged from multiple interactions with its twelve main subjects. Some pieces are essays, others are conversations. ‘On Meetings’ grew from encounters with the person featured, and their works, over time. ‘In Conversations’, as captured here, represent a single conversation, lightly edited for flow – a snapshot, in most cases, of many more conversations we have had over the years.”

With the ‘On Meeting’ essays, Manyika walks you into Toni Morrison’s house and into the great writer’s restroom where there are writers’ photos and literary letters pasted on the walls, she lets you hear the humor echoing from Toni’s study and you wish you could stay just a few more hours in the house. Through her expert descriptive writing, she takes you closer to the endeared Obamas, into the People’s House (White House), to the San Jose’s SAP arena where Michelle Obama and Michele Norris are having an illuminating open talk. Oh I am one of those who did not know that Michelle Obama is the author of the family memoir Becoming which Manyika also analyzes. And if you want more, Manyika is with you on the pages when she gets to a book launch inside the Paul Webley Wing of London University’s School of Oriental Studies (SOAS) where you meet various great and inspiring women, including Margaret Busby, to whose house in Clerkenwell you are later transported. Margaret is the celebrated ‘doyenne of Black British publishing’. 

I once described Manyika’s second novel Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun in my review as ‘…a courageous investigation into the joys and vagaries of age, and at the same time, a subtle unveiling of the racial battle running beneath multi-cultural American society’.

Thus the three books carry the author’s tireless clamour for a free and happy world in which people are not judged on the basis of skin colour, a world in which different political views are permitted, a world free from poverty and hunger. This may sound too generalised an overall embrace of the three books but it serves well to understand the author. 

Manyika’s latest book no doubt bursts from this deep source inside her, a powerful spring that never runs dry, always giving out the divine water, the words for a global garden of togetherness. To celebrate the courage and achievement of black people in the global village is to celebrate universal legacy. However, the conversations in the book turn personal each time the author puts across a question about race or being black. This is a very sensitive issue.

In her recent interview with Open Country Magazine, she describes her book Between Starshine and Clay as ‘…conversations that speak to what we endlessly aspire or strive towards — the idea of progress, of a fairer more equitable society, of a better world for future generations. They are conversations that touch on stories that are a reflection of all of us (any of us) and speak to certain truths and universal human experiences.’ 

In the book, through attentive description, some things speak for themselves. For Toni (she told Manyika she prefers ‘Toni’), Africa lives in her house. Her ‘home’s furnishings… with accents from Africa’ and ‘a small Shona sculpture’ tell of the pride she takes in being African (American). Manyika rightfully writes about the house that it embodies ‘Harare, Lagos, Accra, Kingston’. Truly, a home of cultural pride.

Mario Kaiser, who is accompanying Manyika when she meets Toni Morrison, asks: …Why can skin color still make or break people in this country?

In Kaiser’s question, ‘this country’ refers to America. And Toni’s response is rooted in history. She openly denounces white-skin supremacy or such labels as ‘I am a white Swede’ in America.

‘On Meeting’ Michelle Obama from a distance, Manyika is curious to ask the former First Lady certain questions she had always wanted to ask, including “Did the White House felt like a home, a fortress, or a prison?”

Home, what did Manyika want to know?

However, she never gets to ask this question when the two finally meet.

 Michael Hastings, parliamentarian and also a wide reader with pan-African roots stretching from India to in Angola. He now lives in the UK. He talks about ‘changing the narrative’ when he is asked what he thinks about the African Diaspora.

Hastings understanding is that Africans in the Diaspora must not be viewed simply as just “great cultural bearers of heritage from another continent, but actually as phenomenally intelligent academics, economists, medical experts, people who are innovators, technicians, creators, drivers of wealth, supporters of community and hospital workers.” He calls for “the wider world out there to give us the time and the dignity to be heard.”

It all echoes the fact that the African Diaspora is no stranger in the world but a human community deserving respect. And respect is what Hastings wishes could be given to any member of society without the biases of gender, race, etc.

At some point in time, when home becomes a place of strife, not actually of racial disaster but a place of extreme economic and political disaster, the patriot feels the need for change.  Manyika vividly captures the evening when in his church office, weighed down by the prevailing economic stress, Pastor Evan Mawarire started what would become the #ThisFlag movement that inspired positive action and touched many a heart in Zimbabwe and the world.

Manyika’s ‘On Meeting’ with Mawarire outlines how much this change-maker suffered – the arrests, the imprisonment, the threats – but also she celebrates the courage he had/has in his fight for  a better Zimbabwe, a better home.

Apart from clarifying his friendship with fellow Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and many other issues in his conversation with Manyika, the guru Wole Soyinka passionately views Africa as “not just a continent”. Soyinka displays his deep love for African culture, and this love led him to be part of a team that travelled to Brazil and London in a bid to recover a piece of art ‘stolen’ by the colonialists from a Nigerian museum. 

In the conversations with Soyinka and Mawarire, albeit these two having different backgrounds, there is a shared lesson that Africa should promptly recover the missing dimensions which once identified it originally as a thriving, peaceful continent, that Africans must rise to defend the motherland against looters of its cultural art and freedom.

Soyinka says, “I grew up with this history. These are the precipitates of a people’s spirituality. In the process, that meant that even the spiritual network that bound the Black people together was just being shredded to pieces. So, this was beyond just a piece of work to be admired. This piece of work, incidentally, was the image on one of the Nigerian stamps for a long while. And to see this being advertised around the whole world as what the African genius had produced, it hurt. I’m explaining why there was no hesitation about my going on that recovery mission.”

Claudia Rankine, a multi-award winning poet and playwright also talks about anti-blackness, about the right to vote as an American citizen. Rankine says among her influences is Fanon: “Fanon…for me, being maybe the most crucial in the way his work addresses the psychological ramifications of anti-Blackness within a society.”

Award-winning film-maker Xoliswa Sithole’s story of the difficulties faced by women in the film industry echo those of Zimbabwean film-maker and writer Tsitsi Dangarembga and others. In the conversation, Sithole says she loves making documentaries that tell the untold stories of women and children especially, as Manyika puts it, “in the context of pandemics, war and poverty”.

Yet, much to Sithole’s disappointment, funding is difficult to source because she is a woman. She outlines the need to fight against the “erasure of women out of history”.

The closing chapter ‘A White Continent’ is Manyika’s recollection of her exciting, informative and yet a little dangerous expedition to Antarctica’s South Pole in January 2022. However, through this journey she makes new discoveries which she shares in this chapter, like climate change, women explorers, and interestingly about how thoughts of skin colour diminish in Antarctica, an extremely cold continent almost entirely below the Antarctic Circle; covered by an ice cap up to 13,000 feet deep. To survive the cold, you have to be dressed up in layers and layers of clothing.

“One of the things about being bundled up in layers of polar clothing and gear is that when outside you rarely see a person’s skin color. The body is so covered up it’s hard to recognize who’s who. All that is clear is that a figure is human – not Black, not white, just human.”

All the black people featured in Between Starshine and Clay are heroes and heroines whose experiences have important lessons for the world. They are but only a segment and Manyika admits that “from such a vast continent and its diaspora, there are many inspiring voices that could be included in a book like this”.

This book is of great relevance to everyone, for it carries real-life stories from the African diaspora, stories which the media had seemingly been parsimonious about. It is a classic that will break boundaries.




17 October 2023


Winzim Online


Every year October 10 is observed as World Mental Health Day which aims ‘to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health’. This year, the theme was ‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right’. As the world recognized this day through various events, World Health Organization’s 2022 World Mental Health Report rebounds with a sad note that mental health conditions are increasing worldwide.

The pressure of daily modern life has plunged men, women, teenagers and youths, into a dungeon of depression, drug abuse, suicide, anxiety, in fact all the filthiness usurping the human mind.  There’s hardly a family that has not been affected by any of the mental health issues topping the agendas at world medical and health conferences. Governments and NGOs have woken up to the call of addressing mental health in an attempt to save the future generations.

Dictionaries define mental health as a ‘psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment’ and mental disorder as ‘a psychological disorder of thought or emotion.’

Mental disorder is a more neutral term than mental illness. There are many a different meaning and cause, some rational and others irrational, attached to the words ‘mental health’ or ‘mental disorder’ or ‘mental illness’.

Psychologists or psychiatrists have their take while personal development coaches, traditionalists (spiritual and cultural), and others, have their own viewpoints (and biases) too.

Yet even as threatening as it is, mental health awareness can be raised through the literary arts also; hence we have poets or writers vigorously writing about the subject.

Seven  Zimbabwean poets concerned with the rising statistics of problems to do with mental health came together and hatched ten poems each to produce a wonderful anthology called Not Forgotten: Remembered with Love (2023, Ruvarashe Creative Writes).

The anthology editor, Morset Billie, notes that the poets’ aim ‘to dispel the stigma associated with mental health challenges….’

If you read the anthology quietly, listening with mind (not ears) to the voices of the personae, you realize mental health is not something to take for granted. You witness a sad realm of individuals burdened by pain, suicide ideation, regret, self-pity, drug addiction, guilt and loneliness.

It is a relief that the book is not totally sad but it comforts. You rejoice when victims become victors. The poems are a conglomeration of survivors’ voices and the witnesses’ voices, a poetic choir of hope.

  There is a time when even the sufferer discovers the root cause of his/her suffering as depicted in Ruth Mutana’s poems. A homeless grown man in ‘An Image of a Street Man’ sees his childhood reflected in a nearby poor, wailing boy who’s being ignored by his busy parents.  Like the boy, the man ‘always waited to be loved and cared for…’ but he was cast out of home because he ‘started talking and laughing’ to himself’.

In marriage, some partners scarcely accept their weaknesses; the result is marital friction as in another of Mutana’s poems ‘The Gas Lighter’. The woman cries:


…When I expressed my feelings honestly

He called me a liar

When I explained his shortcomings to me

He called me delusional

Until I began to question my sanity



Courage E Karuma pleads with the busy world, especially family members, to give an ear to those trapped in drugs or suicide thoughts, those crying out for help. His poems often address the brother, sister, mother. For example, in ‘Welcome to my World’ a voice pleads:


Why won’t you listen?

I called last week; you were busy

At that time, I went searching for death


In the poem ‘Mother, I am Scared’, you wish you could attend to the voice of possibly a youth who is under the influence of drugs, alone in his room seeing awkward visions, calling out to his mother who is not there for him.

Tabeth Manyonga, the anthology publisher, also contributed pieces that largely touch on the worker’s plight. She shows how the workplace can inflict worst wounds in the mind. When one fails to live up to the bosses’ expectations, is segregated and gets treated like a slave, the mind is easily pressured to give in to depression.

For example, the persona is her poem ‘The Stairs’ has feelings of regret and after failing to be like the others, says:


I lost my sanity trying to keep up


The poets Onward Mutapurwa and Ruvimbo Martha Jeche are voices of comfort, echoing the anthology’s mantra that ‘it’s ok not to be okay’. 

It is mentioned in his brief biography that 23-year old poet Alison Tinashe Muzite is ‘an author also notable for distinctively writing, drawing and painting using both hands simultaneously’.

When reading his poems, especially the first two titled ‘Alone’ and ‘Lonely’ set side by side, something suspiciously exciting moves between your eyes: the poems are like a painter’s brief, quick strokes made by both hands at the same time, yet capturing different meanings.

     Tanaka Mercy Murwira, an aspiring poet, also echoes the psychological wailings of people in different storms of life. 

Not Forgotten carries poems in simple but inherently soulful language; that is the good of it.  It’s a timeless, helpful book.  Reading Not Forgotten is therapeutic. This anthology surely must be made part of rehabilitation or treatment programs for people with mental health problems. 


28 September 2023


Winzim Online


Some book launches are unforgettable.

It’s afternoon, April 15, 2023. Mallvine T Mutize aka Mall the Vine, a motivational writer, is launching his book Corridors of Leadership at the International Coaching and Mentoring Foundation, Karigamombe Centre in Harare.

Guests entering the ICMF board room are welcomed by cool Afrojazz music oozing from a corner. The sound is not intrusive. Victor Masara, an Afrofusion musical artist, performs with gift, performs with passion, and entertains them. Near a window is an eye-catching large table upon which copies of Corridors of Leadership stand or lie around a white decorated birthday cake.

Among the arriving guests is the guest speaker, Noah Mangwarara, an accomplished motivational author and coach. The panellists Sympathy Sibanda, Tabeth Manyonga, Geraldine Eve, and Beaven Tapureta, have arrived, together with the author who is in the company of his supportive parents and other relatives.

In a moment, the MC walks to the front, and Masara music fades into silence. The introductions, followed by panel discussion and speeches begin.

The panel discussion dissects the book from exciting different perspectives. Passages from Corridors of Leadership are brought up to justify a point, a comment or criticism.

Afterwards, guest speaker Mangwarara lays out in alphabetical order first letters of what he says are the six major themes Mutize tackles in his book – Action, Believe (self-belief), Create ( a legacy), Develop (other leaders), Excellency and Focus. He goes on to explicate each of the themes.

Mangwarara emphasizes everyone is a leader but the choices people make can reflect whether they are effective or ineffective leaders.

He applauds Mutize’s approach in the book, especially his use of the parable style such as the Parable of the Pencil, lessons drawn from great world leaders, Bible verses, references to authors who have tackled same subject, and stories from his everyday life experiences. All these strategies, Mangwarara says, urge the reader to continue reading, inspired.

The launch is double-fold, being also a belated celebration of the author’s birthday which occurs on April 14.

    Mallvine Mutize is an award-wining certified Life Coach, mentor, a leadership practitioner and author of Stepping Stones to Self-Discovery and Self Help to Growth. He also co-authored Growth Recipe. He is the director of The Vine Consultancy whose mandate is to develop children and young people, build and strengthen teams for better performance. Mutize sits on several boards of youth-based organizations.

Mallvine T Mutize

‘Everyone is a leader’