Registered under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

16 April 2011

WINZ Newsletter, Issue No 18

ROLE OF THE LIBRARY SCRUTINISED Zimbabwe observes World Book and Copyright Day

While Zimbabwe’s adult literacy rate is pegged at the highest level in Africa, the country’s general reading culture is still vague.

What then does the high literacy rate constitute or means?
At least several events have been held to weigh up the paradox of this issue in Zimbabwe.

At an event marking the annual Book and Copyright Day on April 12 2011 at the Book Cafe, Harare, the role of the library in the development of reading culture came under scrutiny.

This event coincided with the US Embassy’s celebration of the annual American Library Week which runs from April 10 – 16 under the theme, “Create your own story at your Library.”

One of Zimbabwe’s finest authors Petina Gappah led the discussion at the BookCafe under the theme “Reading Zimbabwe.’ Co-panellists were distinguished writers Ian Holding, Blessing Musariri, and publisher Murray McCartney who stood in for David Mandishona who was reportedly out of the country.

Gappah, who also Chairs the Harare City Library Board, took the time to explain latest developments that are taking place at the HCL. These developments include digitalizing and the move into schools by HCL to boost young readers’ interest in books.

How can we make young people want to read? Various suggestions were made but the writers present decried the advancement of technology as the main setback, although technology is expected to have been used to advance reading culture.

Gappah, supported by Blessing C R Musariri, observed that in the 70’s when there was no other form of entertainment (e.g. Internet, Facebook, etc,) youths took up reading for pleasure seriously. These were the days when the Literature Bureau, which writers are still mourning, had mobile school bookshops/libraries. The writers said this was a period when also serialised Shona novel reading was done on the radio.

However, the world of digital entertainment swept reading aside, replacing it with fast and addictive technology systems.
Ian Holding, a schoolteacher by profession, reiterated the need to invite young people into the reading world. His sentiments were echoed by McCartney who added that the worst crime for the people of Zimbabwe is to ignore the value of/in reading.

Although publishers and libraries have networked on a number of occasions, McCartney said lack of funding has been a major hitch. However, he said his publishing company (Weaver Press) has been lucky at times to receive donations from embassies enabling it to send books to schools and libraries.

Virginia Phiri, author of three books, also present, encouraged other writers and the general public to urge their families to read.

No proper answer was given as to on what basis was the high literacy rate decided. Some said it was decided upon the number of students enrolled in schools but others just couldn’t figure out what it meant to have a high literacy rate in the country.

On the same day (April 12), librarians drawn from different institutions converged at the US Embassy in Harare to celebrate the annual American Library Week.

The librarians talked about their roles, services on offer, achievements and challenges they have met in their efforts to develop a literate society.

Farai Madondo from Harare City Library said although the HCL was in dire straits in terms of infrastructure, the library has managed to keep itself abreast of new library trends in the world.
The HCL, which has ten branches across the city, falls under the Department of Housing and Community Services.
Madondo said the main thrust of the HCL is to ‘develop the total person’ and over the past years, the library has taken care of different kinds of users. Visitors from abroad who are pursuing their research projects in Zimbabwe also use the HCL.

“We also donate old books to rural school libraries and under-privileged communities such as the Matthew Rusike Children’s Home in Epworth,” said Madondo.

However, the story was different from school librarians who were present.
They said economically, their school libraries were suffering. With the few books in the school library, their schools have established stringent control systems to try to preserve the little they have. For instance, library users are closely monitored so that books are not stolen/ taken out of the library. Book borrowing is prohibited in a bid to keep the few books intact.

The school librarians appealed for assistance to quell the loss of reading culture in schools.

Other librarians who made presentations at the US Embassy’s American Library Week celebration included Edwin Madziwo, Senior Assistant Librarian at Zimbabwe Open University, Rutendo Brian Kutiwa, Client Services Librarian at Africa University, Alfred Gumbwa, librarian at the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and various other librarians from different institutions. Gumbwa presented a paper titled ‘The Role of a Special Library in Capacity Development’ which touched on ACBF membership and some of its unique services offered to about 35 countries affiliated to ACBF.

Kutiwa said this year the Africa University is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Jokomo/Yamada Library established in 2001.

He said the anniversary, running under the theme “10 Years of Excellent Information Services”, will see them participating at this year’s Zimbabwe International Book Fair and the Harare Agricultural Show.
The Embassy’s American Resource Centre Director Mr. Stephen B Mushonga said the Library Week celebration succeeded in creating focused debate and platform for sharing information about various libraries in Zimbabwe.

Concurrently, every year on April 23, the world observes World Book and Copyright Day to pay tribute to writers while hundreds of campaigns aimed at promoting readership and protecting authors’ works are conducted across the globe.

By Beaven Tapureta


The Intwasa Short Story Competition is an annual literary event seeking to promote original creative writing talent in both English and IsiNdebele. The competition has two awards; the Yvonne Vera award for best short story in English and the N. S. Sigogo award for best short story in isiNdebele. The prize for each award will be $500

There is also a junior section of the competition open to high school students in Zimbabwe. The prizes for the junior sections will be $200 for each award.

The English Award is named after the late Dr. Yvonne Vera who is arguably one of the best writers writing in English to emerge out of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe as a whole. The Ndebele award is named after Ndabezinhle S. Sigogo. Mr. N. S. Sigogo was a prolific writer and probably the most published Ndebele writer with over two dozen publication to his name.

The Short Story Competition is supported by Hivos, Africalia Belgium, Rural Libraries and Resources Development Programme (RLRDP) and Turn Up College.

The deadline for submission for the short story competition is 15 July 2011.

Adult stories should not be more than 3000 words. The maximum words for junior stories should be 1500. Stories can be sent to or Hard copies can be sent to Intwasa at 403 Fourth Floor, LAPF House, 8th Avenue and Jason Moyo Street, Bulawayo.  Stories should be clearly marked Senior or Junior Section.

For more information about Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo visit



Tinashe ‘Mutumwapavi’ Muchuri

Your Voice Is Unique 

Today I will talk about voice projection. Voice is one important instrument to performance poets. There is a lot that should be known by poets about their voices.

Wikipedia says, ‘voice projection is the strength of speaking or singing whereby the voice is used loudly and clearly. It is a technique which can be employed to demand respect and attention, such as when a teacher is talking to the class or simply to be heard clearly as an actor in the theatre.’

As a performer you go on stage to be seen and to be heard. You go on stage to leave a permanent mark in the life of your audience that will remind them of you or your message in their lives.You go on stage to leave a lasting impression.  You go on stage to inspire debate, to trigger feelings and emotions, to give hope to the hopeless and to inform. The lasting impression you want to leave on stage can only be achieved if your voice is clear and audible. Your voice should be sweet enough to command respect and attention from the audience. It should persuade the audience to listen to you no matter they may hate what you say. Your voice should be like what nectar is to bees. The way you project your voice should be enjoyable.

Often times at many occasions where poets perform, you hear a director of ceremony begging the audience, ‘Please be quiet. Respect the performer. S/he needs your ears. Please give the performer her/his time.” Why does the director of ceremony act on behalf of the performer? It is because the performer would have failed to project her/his voice to the satisfaction of the audience. The voice would not be sweet enough to listen to. It will not be audible enough to waste their time paying attention to. Therefore they will engage in discussions.  Yet on the same event you would see the audience chant along other good poets. If you listen carefully you will discover that these poets know how to project their voice well. You could see that even among a multi-lingual audience, every one will be clapping their hands in appreciation of the performance.

Voice projection is not a skill that one can master in a day. It takes time. It requires self-training and listening to other poets. Here I am not saying imitate. Be yourself. Be unique. Remember there are many birds of the air but each of them is unique in the way it projects its voice. This makes it easy for human beings to identify them with their voices even if they are not physically seen.

Self discovery is the most important aspect of one’s success in performance poetry. You need to understand the ability of your voice. You need to know the range of your voice. You should be in a position to differentiate between the voices you use at an open air event and an indoor event; the voice you use with a Mic and without a Mic. It is important to be the student of your own voice till that time you become the professor of your own voice.
Let the nature of your voice tell you what you should do with it and later do what you want with it when you have mastered it well. Why do you swallow your words when you want to be heard? Why do you speak fast to the extent that some words are not heard properly? If you swallow your words no-one will hear you and you will communicate nothing to the audience. It is sad to realise that you have laboured for nothing. If you want the audience to respect you let your voice respect the audience first. If you want to leave a lasting impression on your audience you should make every word of your performance be heard clearly.  You need to exercise with your voice a lot. Till we meet next time. Off I go.


Makudo Ndomamwe

Maifara, maipembera
Hanzi nhasi tazoyambuka
muchifarira n'anga inobata amai
kusaziva hufa zvokwadi

pachirindo makasudurutsa gudo
pachirindo ndiye dzi-i rimwe gudo
hanzi nhasi tazoribaya dede nemukanwa
Ko, inga munda unongodyiwa wani?

Hakuna gudo risina muswe
hakuna gudo risina mahobi
dai zvisiri izvo shiri dzaidai dzakora

Na Patrick Hwande


No comments:

Post a Comment