Registered under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

02 August 2011

2011 ZIBF Ends

Writers’ classic lid on 2011 Book Fair
By WINZ Staff Writer

(Photo: Batsirai Chigama)

About thirty five Zimbabwean writers ended the 2011 Zimbabwe International Book Fair with classic information & technology workshop that was facilitated by one of the country’s leading ICT persona, Fungai James Tichawangana.
Tichawangana is also an author and the Managing Editor of an award-winning arts & culture website called the Zimbo Jam.
The workshop, held on Saturday July 30 at the National Art Gallery, aimed to equip writers with internet skills and knowledge on how they can make use of internet technology to aid their writing gusto.
Tichawangana’s facilitating modus operandi, that is, bringing up the ‘random brainwaves’ or the ‘goodies’ game after a presentation, and asking any participant to do a 30-second summary of his presentation, triggered interest, and above all, a certain committed togetherness.
While the internet is okay for writers, Tichawangana stressed that it is imperative for parents to protect their kids especially when the internet is available at home.
“As parents how can you protect your kids when you don’t know how to use the internet?” he asked, adding that the world is now existing on a competitive edge that is pitting technology against traditional means of production.
He listed ten ways in which computers can help a writer and these are writing, editing, communication, collaboration, research, availability of creativity tools, manuscript tracking, marketing, mobility and relationships as well as supporting other writers.
Tichawangana’s demonstration of how much a computer does for a writer actually opened participants’ minds as it became truth that no matter how much writers shun the internet, it has its own positives that can make writers work better.
For example, he said, a writer can easily create a table of contents for his script/document; create citations, bibliography, and an index.
He went on to say that writers’ email correspondence with others should be controlled by appropriate register to show professionalism and respect. The email address should be short and simple while the writer should check his/her emails regularly and respond to them promptly.
However, not all is glossy on the internet, said Tichawangana, as he alerted the writers against spam, phishing and viruses.  He said there are people who are out to get information about other people, to steal other people’s identities, or massively collect emails and sell them to internet dealers.
As for the viruses, Tichawangana urged writers not to “promiscuously stick their flash disks on every computer” as this normally leads to loss of important data. And to avoid such unnecessary loss of data, Tichawangana said writers must use backup devices to store one’s data on a separate gadget such as a DVD, CD, or external hard-drive which has more space.
While social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and WAYN are alright, writers should be aware that there are also people with personal intentions, he said.
Giving examples of local writers who have created a personal internet domain for themselves, Tichawangana urged participants to act now and he provided basic points upon which to act.
He gave action points such as (a) fear or ignorance is not excuse for inaction, (b) get an online presence now, (c) give articles or parts of your works away for free online, (d) write in the vernacular – it’s in short supply online, (e) create an online marketing plan, (f) check out what other writers are doing online (g) do a little bit each week and work on long-term results and (h) create a group that works together on an online project.
Speaking at the same workshop, renowned writer Ignatius Mabasa who also represented British Council, the main sponsor of the workshop, said the annual ZIBF writers’ workshops were the place to be during his time as a young unpublished writer. He mingled with the greats such as Musaemura Zimunya, Charles Mungoshi, Chenjerai Hove, Freedom Nyamubaya and told participants how it felt to ride on the same bus with Charles Mungoshi to Domboshava.
“Best times were at the ZIBF workshops,” he said.
Mabasa urged writers to meet very often, network and “get other writers to validate what we are doing”.
ZIBF Acting Executive Director Dr Xavier Carelse also attended the workshop and in his closing remarks, he acknowledged the genius with which Tichawangana facilitated the workshop. He said he has learnt a lot despite his long time familiarity with the computer and urged writers to do much more with the computer.
Writers associations such as Zimbabwe Women Writers, Zimbabwe Writers Association, Zimbabwe Academic and Non-fiction Authors and Writers International Network Zimbabwe were also represented at this unique workshop.  

Coming next is the next issue of the WINZ Newsletter, do you have something to share with others? Hear the echoes of the book fair....on this blog.

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