This report highlights activities that were done or should have been done in the year 2011. 2011, was in economic terms a positive year as the country witnessed a slightly stable recovery trend back to normality. It is a fact that there remained the need for further empowerment of the people in economic terms so that they afford buying books to read for pleasure, engage in reading and appreciation of local literature, or participate in literary events without worrying much about the basic needs at home. Writers, however, strived as usual to eke a living out of the little they got from elsewhere, as it is hard to get some livelihood from writing alone, unless one is also a paid journalist or writes for an immediately paying market.
Writers International Network Zimbabwe closely followed some of the literary events in Zimbabwe, celebrated when its kin joy struck, and wept when it wept. Like other non-governmental organizations involved in the arts, funding proved the main setback. However, there were also funding organizations and embassies that did quite much in contributing to the growth of the local arts, especially literature in Zimbabwe. Certain individuals and organizations remained resolute with their moral support to the newly formed organizations such as WIN-Zimbabwe. Due credit specially goes to these individuals and organizations that showed an unbreakable passion for Zimbabwean literature and sacrificed their lot to support via every means the rise of Zimbabwean literature, more so amidst an uncertain environment.
Julius Sekai Chingono (1946-2011)
The late Julius Chingono
The writing community, and the nation at large, plunged into weeping early January at the loss of a renowned poet and writer Julius Sekai Chingono. Chingono’s death robbed us of a brother, father, best friend who poured his passion in everything concerning local writers. Besides being a Board Member of Writers International Network Zimbabwe, Chingono belonged to various groups of artists which saw him perform at places such as the Book Café, and at international platforms. Chingono, a second-generation writer in the local literary history served as a resource person at various local and international authors’ forums, including the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2004. Today, we are celebrating his work which continues to touch many hearts across Africa. May his soul rest in peace.
Win-Zimbabwe/Global Arts Partnership
Walter Lambert Muparutsa, Global Arts Trust Director
In April we struck a deal with the Global Arts Trust (GAT) to advance the work of Writers’ International Network Zimbabwe. Walter Lambert Muparutsa, Director of GAT, agreed to work with and offer WIN-Zimbabwe office accommodation and read some of the works of WIN-Zimbabwe members who aspire to be playwrights. A number of new writers have so far approached the office asking for guidance to develop their ideas into book, stage or film scripts and some of them have been helped by the veteran actor & director through the partnership. Others with an interest in staging their own plays have become affiliated to both WIN-Zimbabwe for the writing skills and GAT which specializes in all aspects of theatre. The partnership with GAT also made our admin work smooth and writers were able to visit us at any time. However, WIN-Zimbabwe did not have an employed secretariat due to limitations but the WIN-Zimbabwe Founder & Director used own resources, at times largely supported by the Board, fellow writers, and members, to make sure WIN-Zimbabwe was represented at the office and at local writers’ fora. So WIN-Zimbabwe opened its arms to writers from Monday to Saturday, notwithstanding the challenges this posed to the Founder & Director. The vision to reach a stage where WIN-Zimbabwe would generate its own conviction and resources as a writers association goaded this sacrifice made by the Board, the Founder & Director, and some of you now reading this report. Working with Walter Muparutsa has been like a family union. He’s fatherly, brotherly, and not mean with his vast experience in the local arts sector.
The June /July online Poetry Workshop with Georgia Ann Banks-Martin
American poet, Georgia Ann Banks-Martin
WIN-Zimbabwe organized a two month online poetry workshop for ten poets from June 1 to July 30. The workshop, facilitated by American poet Georgia Ann Banks-Martin, exposed selected poets to a type of poetry called ekphrastic poetry. Participants included Batsirai Chigama (Harare), Mgcini Nyoni (Bulawayo), Hosea Tokwe (Gweru), Mbizo Chirasha (Harare), Tinashe Muchuri (Harare), Bhekumusa Moyo (Bulawayo), Sympathy Sibanda (Harare), Lisben Chigwenjere (Harare), Barbra Anderson (Harare) and Patrick Hwande (Gokwe). What started as an exciting workshop actually ended on a low note, as most participants could not actively participate due to limited internet access. However, Georgia left valuable notes about ekphrastic poetry for participants to always revise them at their own free time even after the workshop. This interaction with an international poet brought together different poets to discuss a new type of poetry. It was interesting to note that WIN-Zimbabwe conducted this online poetry activity ahead of another workshop organized by ZIBF to equip writers with online tools for their career development. The two workshops merged with regard to purpose and benefits, although the WIN-Zimbabwe online poetry workshop which demanded lot of online interaction, was met with challenges on the part of participants. WIN-Zimbabwe would like to thank the poets and Georgia for sharing with Zimbabwean poets an interesting type of poetry which otherwise most of us did not know about before.
The WINZ e-Newsletter
As the association’s mouthpiece, the WINZ Newsletter kept us visible and kept our readers and writers informed about our activities and some other news about the life and works of Zimbabwean writers. Through the Newsletter, WIN-Zimbabwe achieved its ‘internationality’ as it network with a number of foreign-based Zimbabwean writers and got updates from their current projects which local writers are participating in. To date, we have published forty three issues of the newsletter with fresh contents such as the informative columns The Regular Writer (Tinashe Muchuri), Ngatinyorei (Clever S Kavenga), Khasibhaleni (Jerry Zondo). We are proud of our newsletter’s growth and cultural diversity. It is WIN-Zimbabwe’s vision that the newsletter be available in print form so that our members and other writers who are in remote areas can also benefit from it. Currently, only those who have access to the internet are able to read it and appreciate it. This is a limitation as we would want everyone, especially writing youth clubs in rural areas, to read and benefit from the information and opportunities we publish.
Paid Up Members & Annual Subscriptions
Writers International Network Zimbabwe database of fully paid up members is still very small. As the association strives to make good use of the partnership it entered into with GAT, office generating income such as membership fees and subscriptions remained too low to assist in the office needs of WIN-Zimbabwe. However, as it is, we are still positive and encourage writers to show their commitment in 2012 by paying their membership and annual subscription fees. This helps to raise funds to smoothen administration, communication and coordination. Donations in cash and kind are also welcome to promote Zimbabwean literature and break new grounds.
The Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust- Capacity Building Funding
WIN-Zimbabwe New Brochure
Writers International Network Zimbabwe received a grant this year from the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust to produce 1000 brochures and 500 business cards. This was a great achievement as the association moved from using a photocopied black/white brochure to a glossy one with sufficient information about WIN-Zimbabwe. Indeed, capacity was built in terms of our reaching out to many Zimbabwean writing talents who still need the basic training that WIN-Zimbabwe gives in various forms. Many thanks go to the CFoZT for this gesture of solidarity with local arts, particularly the literary arts.
The Inaugural Dambudzo Marechera Competition
Dambudzo Charles Marechera (1952-1987)
We proudly unveiled the inaugural Dambudzo Marechera Writing Competition, which aimed to honor Zimbabwe’s legendary writer and in the process award our writers. The legacy of the late great Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987) is undoubtedly conspicuous in the literary circles locally and internationally. Many general and scholarly books have been written on the life and works of Marechera. International conferences to discuss his enigmatic life and works are being held across the globe at universities and Book Fairs. We saw it fit to honor his outstanding inspiration. However, a month after launching the competition, WIN-Zimbabwe withdrew the contest because some consultation needed to be done with the Dambudzo Marechera Trust. Unfortunately, efforts to get hold of any one of the Trustees proved fruitless and we decided that we will go it alone in 2012. Some entries to the competition were received by post and others via email and WIN-Zimbabwe’s position on this is that the entries will be forwarded to next year when the competition runs afresh. It was of course disappointing for some of writers to notice that we removed the competition from our official blog. We would like to re-assure writers that WIN-Zimbabwe will go ahead with honoring one of our country’s great writers and hope that the competition will get support to enable it to award writers and make it an annual celebration of Marechera.
Manuscript Assessment Programme
The programme picked up momentum later in the year with writers from as far as Kadoma and Bulawayo driving all the way to Harare to drop their manuscripts for assessment. May it be known to students that WIN-Zimbabwe has been flexible in allowing some schools students to have their works assessed free of charge. We need to help each other even when one hasn’t got the required assessment fee. With this programme , WIN-Zimbabwe wishes to provide one-on-one mentorship opportunities for unpublished writers.
Harare Chapter Interim Committee
Sometime early this year, a Harare Chapter interim committee was selected at one of our meetings at the ZIBF Pavilion. Here are the names of the Harare Interim Committee which would be revived next year: Brighton Milanzi, Tilda Gozho, Nomore Savheri (who took care of WIN-Zimbabwe table during the 2011 Writers’ End of Year Get Together), Bazel Chifungo, Doreen Mutyambizi, James Nyamajiwa and Nyabasa Zacharia. Plans are in place to revive the committee and/or replace those who are no longer available, with new members.
Zimbabwe International Book Fair
We did not exhibit at the 2011 ZIBF but as part of networking, the Founder & Director, some members of the Board and ordinary members managed to attend the Indaba Conference at the Crowne Plaza Monomotapa. Some of the writers sponsored themselves to attend the Writers Workshop organized by ZIBF with assistance from ZWA. Such commitment to one’s craft should be strengthened and it is by this that we can only get there.
WIN-Zimbabwe Schools Programme
WIN-Zimbabwe had its book donation function at Glen View 2 High, Harare, postponed to 2012 due to circumstances beyond our control. However, the subsequent meetings with representative from the Ministry of Education, Sport, Art and Culture with regard to our Schools Programme proved enlightening. The meetings were encouraging. This prompted us to postpone the programme until 2012 to make way for a proper schools programme to run. The programme aims to equip young writers in Zimbabwean schools with reading and writing skills as well as to complement the work of literature teachers by exposing the students to the authors of their favorite local works of fiction or poetry.
2011 Writers’ End of Year Get-Together
Clever S Kavenga, Mashingaidze Gomo and Lexta Mutasa at the 2011 Writers End of Year Get-Together, Book Cafe, Harare
This year’s edition of the annual Writers’ End of Year Get-Together was a walk of faith. The event ended up being held on a zero-cost budget due to circumstances beyond our control. Many thanks go to the presenters, poets, writers, the mbira crew and all who chose to attend and support the celebration of talent. There are others outside the country who also wished to be in attendance, who sent their supporting messages. We managed to hold it at the Book Café and with a number of writers in attendance. The report on what transpired is available on this blog in our last issue of the WINZ Newsletter.
What to conclude except to say we are still walking on the road to where the prize is. And we know that we will win as writers, win back our times and platforms to expose Zimbabwean literary genius hidden under a certain bushel. That bushel we are going to crash! Thank you for the love, the support, the encouragement, participation and everything that you have done to WIN-Zimbabwe.
We acknowledge the outstanding guidance of the WIN-Zimbabwe Board without which everything may have tumbled to the ground. One peace, One Zimbabwe.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY 2012