Registered under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

31 March 2011


COSMAS MAIROSI, one of Zimbabwe's young and gifted performance poets, seen here at a poetry gala in Harare some few years back. Some poets are good, but they vanish just when you think about them...

28 March 2011


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23 March 2011

WINZ Newsletter, Issue No 15

The Board, Founder & Director, members and friends of Writers International Network Zimbabwe wish to extend heartfelt condolence to Fungai James Tichawangana, the man behind the award-winning arts and culture website, the Zimbo Jam (, for the untimely loss of his wife Shingairai Chimuriwo who died in a car accident on March 15, 2011.  Her supportiveness to the arts and culture industry will be greatly missed. Popularly known as Shingi to friends and artists, she had great taste for the local arts and even volunteered to cover events when the Zimbo Jam team was time pressed. She brought a certain spirit to us all, and that spirit will be remembered forever. To Fungai, the Zimbo Jam team, family and relatives, we say be strong, for we know how painful the moment is.
We also wish to announce that we have postponed the official launch of our 2011 Calendar of Events which was scheduled to take place next month (April) at the Book Café, Harare. The launch will now take place in May. This has been caused by forces beyond our control.
(From Win-Zimbabwe)


Mbizo Chirasha reading his poetry at WIN-Zimbabwe 2010 End of Year Get Together

Harare, March 22, 2011: The United States Embassy hosted Mbizo Chirasha, popularly known as ‘The Black Poet’ in performance circles, for a discussion of the “metaphor of voices and rhythm of words” featuring a scintillating recital of his works to mark World Poetry Day.
“The Embassy is pleased to mark this important day. Poetry calls forth those voices in society that would otherwise go unheard and gives them a powerful tool for expressing their deepest feelings, thoughts and beliefs. Poets have the power to influence hearts and change minds,” said Michael Brooke, Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Harare.
In typical poetic form, Chirasha told his audience, which included students from Westridge High School in Harare, that, “metaphors are the lotion drying political syphilis from the manhood of the state, my pen is a broom sweeping vendetta pebbles from talk tables, and my ink is a detergent cleansing political stains from parliament overalls.”
Describing his works, Chirasha said the common theme in most of his poems has been respect for women and recognizing their suffering and endurance. “It’s a coincidence of creation and creativity, that’s what I believe in,” said the poet whose work is featured in over 40 journals and anthologies around the world.
However, Chirasha’s poetry cuts across issues to include children’s rights, politics, social lives, gender issues, praise and protest, culture and African pride.
Chirasha read some of his published works, including “Identity Apples,” published by the Memorial University English Department in Alberta , Canada; “Anthem of the Black Poet” and “Decade of Bullets,” published in India; “Haiti My Generation,” published in United Kingdom; and the popular, “African Names.”
“This poem reshuffled cabinet; the rhythm resigned the president and its metaphors adjourned parliament,” said Chirasha reciting his poem, “Letter to my daughter,” published locally.
Asked why he preferred publishing outside the country, Chirasha bemoaned the lack of structures to support writers in Zimbabwe, and said he was thinking seriously about writing his poems in Shona for local audiences.
“We lack that administrative connection in terms of writing. We lack consensus as writers, and publishing houses are closing shop,” he noted. Contributing to the discussion, another poet, Thando Sibanda, said the study of literature should be made compulsory at all levels of education in Zimbabwe so as to promote an environment that supports writers and poets.
World Poetry Day is celebrated on March 21st, as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, to "give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements."- ZimPAS © 2011
ZimPAS is a product of the United States Embassy Public Affairs Section. Queries and comments should be directed to Sharon Hudson Dean, Public Affairs Officer, Website:
(Source: US Embassy Public Affairs Section, Harare)

Extract from the poem ‘Haiti My Generation’
Haiti, crimeless generation
I am on your lap,
from somberness to the day when laughter laugh again
To the dawn when flowers bloom again
Smiles triumph shadows
Haiti, Haiti, Haiti
Rise and see the smiling sun

By Mbizo Chirasha ‘The Black Poet’, Zimbabwe

Tinashe ‘Mutumwapavi’ Muchuri

World Poetry Day: Remember the Children Also

World Poetry Day is the day to appreciate and support poets and poetry around the world. It is held on 21 March each year and is an initiative of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).   
Many local poets will very well remember the unforgettable commemoration of this Day in 2000 when poets from various writers associations came together to share their poetry with shoppers and workers at the First Street Mall, thus taking poetry to the people. Poets like the late Kimpton Dangirani aka The People’s Poet, Chirikure Chirikure, Albert Nyathi, Shumirai Nhanhanga, Audrey Chihota, Baba Shupi, this poet, and others, took turns to entertain the audience. 
If there were other observances of the poetry day in the years that followed, not one was as memorable as this one. Thanks to the US Embassy for putting weight behind this important day locally. We hope that other larger organisations will follow the trend.
World Poetry Day is a day set aside to promote the reading, writing, publishing, and teaching of poetry throughout the world. This is the day that children should be introduced to poetry in classrooms and at home. This is the day that teachers and parents must be busy with lessons related to poetry.
Children should be given the opportunity to examine and enjoy poetry in its entirety. They should learn different types of poetry, origins and current trends of poetry. Poets must be invited to schools to have poetical fun with the children. The children will then have a chance to meet, question, and share their emotions with the poets whom they only see in certain books or magazines. This is the time that children should be given the chance to understand the inspiration behind the writing, reading and performance of poetry. 
On this day blogs and websites should also devote much space to poetry the world over. In Zimbabwe there are blogs that publish poetry. Such blogs as ‘KwaChirere’ (belonging to renowned author/poet, Memory Chirere), WIN-Zimbabwe blog, Poetry Bulawayo, Munyori Journal, among others, have done a commendable job in publishing and promoting poetry. It will be interesting to see these blogs come up with advanced strategic ways of further promoting poetry.  
Isn’t it interesting as well to note that our Deputy Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture, Lazarus Dokora, and his Principal Director of Arts and Culture, Rev Paul B Damasane, are talented poets themselves? My hope is that they will hear our plea and make it possible for poets to get in schools and make poetry available to school children. Poetry is a way of life. Poetry can be taken out of oneself into other selves!
Zimbabwe has a culture of poetry that date back to the establishment of humanity. Every life is immersed in poetry.
So please let the children play poetry. Until we meet again, write, write, write, and keep writing, and don’t forget to give your children a poetical surprise gift!


The Dreadful Month

By Hosea Tokwe

We could not talk as we did before in our village
Our little voices were in whispers
Our lips were dry, speechless,
We feared for our lives even worse than in war

No more could we freely chat, or even laugh
The sky grew black like a dark cloud every day
And early to sleep went both parents and children
And we all lay closed in our huts

Our village and countryside were strange
Life so uncertain, love gone
Trees and rocks looked still
None of us dared to go to the borehole

So water was scarce for both men and livestock
We dreaded the strange and the unexpected
Even the fish swam deep down
In the deep night of despair

And now, let us thank our God,
There will be joy and plenty to eat
With the dreadful month gone, there will be hope
and a new life to live again

 (Mr Hosea Tokwe is a Chief Library Assistant in the Special Collections Department at Midlands State University Library, Gweru, Zimbabwe. He has worked as Assistant Librarian and College Librarian at Mkoba Teachers College from 1991 to 2005. Mr Hosea Tokwe has been a member of American Library Association, Academic College and Research Libraries, and Library Administration and Management Association from 2002 to 2007. At present he is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and an individual member of the Zimbabwe Library Association and Librarians Without Borders. He is active in voluntary work and works with School Libraries, assisting and helping in their establishment and development. Mr Hosea Tokwe has a passion for short stories and poems, and has written short stories and poems which are awaiting publication.)


14 March 2011

WINZ Newsletter, Issue No 14

Congrats to Sandisile Tshuma for her new accolade, an inspiration to other writers in Zimbabwe.Our new columnist is Tinashe Muchuri, a well known poet who has done so much for the development of poetry in Zimbabwe. Muchuri's experience in performance poetry is so much so that we hope many aspiring poets will benefit from his instalments here on our blog. His first instalment  "The History of Performance Poetry in Shona Culture" is exciting and a mind opener that will help us chart new ways of poetry expression. Keep writing!


The past decade has seen the emergence of the young Zimbabwean female voice in the writing arena, with some of them winning awards in various categories. Ethel Kabwato, Blessing Musariri, Bryony Rheams, Sympathy Sibanda, are some of the names making waves in the poetry and fiction genres. Recently, Linda Msebele, from Bulawayo, has just had her story 'The Chicken Bus' translated into German and published in the German quarterly journal, 'Literaturnachrichten'. Another Bulawayo-born writer, Sandisile Tshuma (pictured), won an Honourable Mention at the 2010 Thomas Pringle Awards for her first published short story Arrested Development. The prestigious awards aim to reward best short story published in a journal, magazine or newspaper in Southern Africa over the past two years. The winner of the award was Stephen Watson for his short story Buiten Street, which appeared in the magazine New Contrast. The Thomas Pringle Award judges described Arrested Development as a ‘beautifully observed story of a journey – both literal and figurative’. Arrested Development first appeared in the anthology Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe (Amabooks) and the story was further published in various journals such as Wordsetc. Jane Morris of Amabooks described Tshuma’s achievement as an encouragement for other women to break new literary ground. She said, “I think her example will give young writers encouragement to write and to try to get their work published.” Beaven Tapureta (BT), a literary journalist, had the privilege to speak to Sandisile Tshuma (ST) who now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, to find out who she is and what she feels about winning the Honorable Mention as a new writer.
BT: What does the recent accolade mean in your writing career?

 ST: Being shortlisted for the Thomas Pringle Award is an honour I was immensely delighted about. Receiving an Honourable Mention for Arrested Development was a singularly gratifying experience. The recognition is an affirmation of the gift that God has given me and serves to encourage me to nurture and develop my passion for the written word. With this in mind I recently started writing a blog in an attempt to get into the habit of writing and hopefully find my own style and voice as a writer. I have also started studying with the London School of Journalism and am looking forward to increased output as my technique improves and I truly come into my own.

BT: Which awards/prizes have you won before?

ST: I remember performing very well in local literary competitions when I was still in school. The performance of “Arrested Development” in the award administered by the English Academy of Southern Africa is all the more special for me because this is my first published work.
 BT: When did you start writing, and where exactly?

ST: Hillside Junior School in Bulawayo had a strong ethos of nurturing various talents and skills amongst pupils so we were always encouraged to participate in local writing eisteddfods and the like. So I have essentially been writing creatively since childhood.

BT: Lots of writers have their model writers whom they try to emulate, who are your influences?

ST: Given that I am still trying to define my own style as a writer I don't feel as though I have arrived at a position where I can single out specific influences. I read very widely and am moved by different writers. I always appreciate writing that is crisp, uncluttered and effortless to read. I admire writers who are able to convey complex or polemic themes using satire, humour and simple language, as well as writers who are able to draw me into completely unfamiliar territory and defy the traditional models of prose writing. Writers whose work I have particular fondness for include Ahmadou Kouruma who unfortunately passed away in 2003 Salman Rushdie, Vikas Swarup, Markus Zusak and Alex Garland. Being somewhat of a TV baby I have a strong appreciation for the work of the writers of the ABC series Grey's Anatomy. Anyone who can make me laugh one moment and shed actual tears the next sure can tell a story! The narration is accessible, reflective and easy to relate to. I also have a great love for the poetry of Charles Mungoshi, Pablo Neruda and Rainer Maria Rilke.  

BT: What is your vision as a writer?

ST: In the short to medium term my vision is to be able to do some feature writing on subjects that are important to me such as health, human rights, music and personal development. In the long term I would like to write literature for children as well as young adults. My vision is to be able to use my talent, experience and imagination to inspire young people, entertain them and subtly provide them with some of the psychological tools they need to navigate their way through a rapidly changing and highly demanding world. I want my work to stretch their horizons beyond the confines of whatever circumstances they happen to be born to so that the whole world opens up before them and they can know and understand their rightful place "in the family of things" as the poet Mary Oliver says in “Wild Geese”.

 BT: You work as Programme Associate for the UNESCO East and Southern Africa EDUCAIDS programme, how does job link with your writing ambitions?  
ST: The work I do is aimed at supporting the education sector in providing comprehensive age appropriate HIV and AIDS, sexuality and sexual and reproductive health education for young people from primary school right through to tertiary level. I have always been passionate about improving the health outcomes of people in underdeveloped communities. This is the sort of work whose rewards may not be immediately tangible but if we get it right could quite literally save lives and empower people to make healthy choices for themselves. My work requires the ability to look at situations with fresh eyes, to think analytically and creatively, and ultimately to communicate effectively. I find that attention to detail and the ability to analyze ideas through creative lens are invaluable as a writer.
BT: How do you describe the status of the writing industry in Zimbabwe?

ST: Zimbabwe has some exciting writers both at home and outside her borders. I am encouraged by the resilience of publishers such as AmaBooks who have bravely supported local writing in what can at best be described as "a difficult environment." While I am not exactly plugged in to the "writing community" at home, I like the fact that such a community exists and that there is support for the craft even if only amongst peers. 

BT: Thank you very much Sandisile, we wish you the best in all your writing endeavors.

Tinashe 'Mutumwapavi' Muchuri

About Tinashe Muchuri

Tinashe Muchuri was born and grew up in Gwanha Village in Zaka, south of Zimbabwe. He is an actor, performing poet, novelist and storyteller. In 1998 his poem ‘Mubhedha’ was included in the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe's Journal “Crackling Voices from Budding Writers”. He became a regular contributor to the Ngano Dzapasichigare Column in Kwayedza, had own column in the Nehanda Guardian called “By the Fireside” that tackled children’s rights issues.
He has published poetry in Zimbabwe, United Kingdom and the United States and has appeared in online journals and print magazines. His poems also appear in the following poetry anthologies, Jakwara reNhetembo (Mambo Press 2008), State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry (Conversation Press 2009), Daybreak (Unibooks 2010) War against War (Mensa Press 2010), Visions of the Motherland (Mensa Press 2010) and Defiled Sacredness (Mensa Press 2010). He has performed his poetry at prime Zimbabwe’s Arts Festivals, in South Africa and Botswana.  His love for the big screen has seen him in films such as Tanyaradzwa, Nyaminyami, the Husband, and I Want a Wedding dress to name a few. He has also featured in TV dramas like Tiri parwendo, Suburb D among others.

The History of Performance Poetry in Shona Culture

Performance poetry in Shona is not a modern phenomenon. It dates back to the days of the bantu tribes. Occasions and events where performance poetry was done are in the following instances.
Before the rainy season began, a rain making ritual was conducted. An emissary would be sent to remind or inform the king. The emissary would salute and talk to the king in a poetic way, using poetic language. The king would feel good and grant permission for the undertaking of the rain making ritual. The process of brewing the beer for the ritual would then be done.........
During traditional invocations, the Shona recites their prayers to Musikavanhu in a poetic way/form, either accompanied by mbira music, ngoma sounds, or hosho.
Before hunters go for hunting, they usually recite a poem to their ancestors and to Musikavanhu asking for guidance in the forest. When they get to the forest, they would not just get into the forest without a prayer, which was also done in a poetic way. This prayer was done to the spirits of the forest to deliver the game, and protect them from dangerous animals.  When the hunter’s dogs were chasing game, the hunter performed poetry to inspire the dogs to put an extra-effort in chasing the game. After catching the prey, a hunter would recite a 'thank you' poem to the spirits of the forest for delivering. Even if the hunter failed to catch prey, he would recite a thank you poem for the spirits of the forest for taking care of him while in the forest hunting.
Royal greetings/salutations were done in a poetic way too. Not everyone was supposed to just greet the king. Only a person who travels with the king was supposed to greet the king. This is known as kukwidza maoko. This person knows his king’s totemic praise poem. He too knows the king more than anyone else. The person will be the closest person to the king, he could be a nephew or a sahwira in other parts of the Shona clans. This person would lead the recital of the king’s salutation as the other people gathered and clapped their hands, whistled or ululated.
During wars, warriors recited poems in a bid to urge each other to fight the enemy without fear. Poetry was used to urge the warriors to face the battle with brevity. Even while the warriors were in battle, in the middle of the fight, warriors urged each other by reciting poems to instill fear into their enemy. This would weaken their enemy; some cowards would run away just from the fear of the poems which the warriors recited.
During burials/internment, some relatives recite poems to the spirit of the dead, asking the dead to take care of the living or ordering the spirit to fight back if they feel the dead was wronged or their death was suspicious.

When the home is faced with misfortune or good fortune, the Shona recite poems of happiness or of sorrow.
Totemic praise poems are common in the Shona culture of performance poetry. Women play a pivotal role in this area. Women praise their men when they come with something home. Every woman was supposed to know her husband’s totem. The same also happen to the husband. He was supposed to know the totemic praise poem for his wife. This was done so that he will be able to thank his wife with her totemic poem. He would also be able to greet his in-laws with their totemic poem. Women also recited the totemic poem during sex and after sex. This was done to urge the men to continue working hard in fulfilling their wives’ desires. During these poetry performances, the husband will be told how to make the woman happy and satisfied.
Children’s games were also played in a poetic way. Many games that were played during Jenaguru were all poems. Plays like, pote pote Zakariana, Ndinotsvaka wangu Zakariana, Musuki wendiro, Zakariana, Anodzichenesa, Zakariana, Somwedzi wagara, Zakariana, Sumuka hande, Zakariana, Aiwaiwa ndanga ndichireva uyu. If you follow this play well you would see that the play or song is a poem.
Lullabies were also poems performed by women in a bid to quieten crying children. The song had harmony and rhythm. It was observed that children listen well to music. This might be a reason why most women are good singers and that most women are easy to fine tune their voices than men. The women would recite a poem to a child that you may think the mother is doing it to a grown up person. These poems are not recited when the child start showing signs of listening to the mother but when the child only communicates through crying.
During courtship a man always recites poetry to his lover and sometimes the woman also reciprocates. You would find words like, chido chomwoyo, chibaya moyo, ruva rangu, being exchanged between a man and a woman. These words are used to show love for the other person. Sometimes the poems would be used to flatter the other person into believing in the other person’s proposed love.
In the Shona society, poetry performance can be done to one person, a group of people, to the spirits or to Musikavanhu. Poetry also can be done by anyone, boys, girls, men and women. A nephew can recite a poem to his uncles or their wives. A sahwira can too recite a poem to his friend. A sister-in-law can recite a poem to his brother-in-law.  A grand mother can recite a poem to her grandson. Cattle herders recite poems inciting their bulls to fight each other. It is not restricted to anyone. It is open to everyone.
Poetry performance can be done by many people being led by one person, especially in children’s games, royal greetings, invocation ceremonies among others.


The Sun, The Moon

the sun, the moon
have forgotten their foresight
therefore there will be no tomorrow

shudder away worry
look up and smile

the sun, the moon
may remember where they put
their light

fight and win
the sun, the moon
are millenniums old

if they had given up
under which sky would lovers meet?

By Beaven Tapureta
(adapted from the Chinese anthology of African poetry, No Serenity Here, 2010)

04 March 2011

WINZ Newsletter, Issue No 13

We hope we find you well. Win-Zimbabwe this year enters its second year in existence and there is lots of work ahead of us. In a bid to instill writing practice in our members, we are looking for a voluntary regular writer for our blog under the new column "The Regular Writer". This is a new platform for students/student journalists to practice writing non-fiction. The successful columnist will feature in every issue of our newsletter and he/she can write about a genre he/she knows best. Send your enquiries to our contact. This month the world celebrates International Women’s Day, and in Harare there are events lined up just for you the writer. Don’t miss out! Check some of them below:


PAS invites you to attend next week’s Food for Thought (FFT) on March 8, 2011 
“Being a female writer in Zimbabwe” 
Presentation  by Ethel Irene Kabwato 
This program will be at 1500 at our Eastgate Mall, Public Affairs Section

Ethel Irene Kabwato

Ethel Irene Kabwato (pictured) was born in Mutare, Zimbabwe into a creative family and has won many prizes for her prose and poetry. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Media Studies with the Zimbabwe Open University. She participated in the British Council Crossing Borders Project in 2004.She has been invited to read her work at institutions such as Rhodes University and University of Witwatersrand, South Africa on the occasion of the World-Wide Reading for media freedom in Zimbabwe, 2007.Currently, she is working on a project called Slum Cinema, a voluntary initiative that seeks to empower disadvantaged communities through multi-media work. Her inspiration is derived from her two daughters, Nadia and Wynona.

(From the US Embassy, Public Affairs Section, Harare)

DEAR FRIENDS AND ART SUPPORTERSFirst Floor Gallery Harare has great pleasure of inviting you to attend Women and Art -- a special March masterclass to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women in Art in Zimbabwe.

The programme includes a presentation “Women & Art and Women in Art History — Role of Gender in Art” and a forum panel discussion with some of Zimbabwe’s most interesting women artists including special guest of honour Berry Bickle as well as upcoming stars of the younger generation Virginia Chihota and Portia Zvavahera.
Forum discussion: Issues for contemporary artists in Zimbabwe — Are women artists different? Should women artists be different? What can male artists learn from women artists? How can we move forward together to raise the profile and standard of Zimbabwean contemporary art?

Date: Tuesday 8 March 2011, 10am to 1pm
Location: Culture Fund Trust of Zimbabwe, 51 Harvey Brown Road, Milton, Harare
Attendance: Free, by RSVP, seating is limited: or 0775 709 031
Men: Very welcome!
Members of the Press: Welcome always!

Looking forward to welcoming you on March 8 and towards your contribution to a vibrant debate!

All the very best.

Team First Floor Gallery Harare!


Ndafunga Mapenzi
(Ode to Ignatius T Mabasa’s Shona novel Mapenzi)
Ndaiiudzwaka kuti Shona inobhowa
kubhowa senhabvu yemakudo
asika ndakazoona Mapenzi
yakandinakidza Shona
Ko nhasi uripiko iwe Shona

takazviita Mapenzi ndokutuka vamwe
eheka ivo vatakati Mapenzi
Benzi ndeane rake vanodaroka VaMabasa
Hanzi Mapenzi
koiwe hausi here

Ndafunga Mapenzi vehama
Hauzi benzi here shamwari?
iroka rinoti vamwe Mapenzi
asi iro ritori pamberi
kutaura chirungurutswa
kushora dare kutaura ndimi
ndimi pane  akwegura
haiwa ndafunga kure vehama
ndafunga Mapenzi rakandinyevenutsa.
Na James ‘Nyanduri’ Nyamajiwa


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