Every time writers meet
to discuss a particular aspect of the late legendary writer Dambudzo Marechera's
work, the discussion naturally ends up being a kaleidoscope revealing more about
the author’s inseparable lifestyle and works.
Marechera becomes alive
at most of these meetings as his works and bits and pieces of his life are
re-captured by his living contemporaries and put under passionate scrutiny.
This was evident at the
Spanish Embassy’s monthly book club meeting to discuss one of Marechera’s books
Mindblast (College Press, 1984). The
discussion, held last week at the Embassy’s Cultural Center, was led by writer
and Marechera scholar Tinashe Mushakavanhu who was clad for the occasion in a
black T-shirt with the legend ‘Dambudzo’.
Mushakavanhu said he
first came into contact with Mindblast
at high school during the 90’s when the country was reeling under economic,
political and social unrest. He then proceeded to study Marechera at university
In Mindblast, Mushakavanhu said Marechera addresses our past, present
and future while he (Marechera) also regarded his life as a form of expression
or way of communicating beyond the act of writing. The personae in Mindblast, and other Marechera’s works,
constantly scrutinize the world around them, said Mushakavanhu.
was first rejected by Zimbabwe Publishing House when renowned author Charles
Mungoshi was serving as ZPH editor.
death, Mungoshi in a tribute to his best friend titled ‘Dambudzo you are still
Alive’ stated some of the reasons behind the rejection. He said, “…And then you
brought me Mindblast, all the
material that finally was published under the collective title Mindblast. And again I was worried because,
while the stuff was good, I knew I couldn’t persuade my publishers to publish
it. One, because of the well-known reputation you had made for yourself which
my colleagues in the publishing house did not feel was commercially profitable.
Two, I thought if the book was difficult for me to understand – who is going to
buy it? Dambudzo, I felt you were not communicating to the people. I was still
thinking a lot about the people, you know.”
was later accepted by College Press in 1984 when Stanley Nyamfukudza, another
writer of Marechera generation, was its editor.
Mushakavanhu said Mindblast, particularly the ‘From the
Journal’ section, was Marechera’s literary diary of ‘being home and not being
home’ as he saw his coming back to Zimbabwe as a second exile from London.
‘From the Journal’
captures Marechera’s life in Harare whereupon returning from exile in London,
he found himself marooned by his own people and found himself wandering in
streets, park benches and nightclubs with the only things that he called his
own, the portable typewriter and books.
“Marechera carried his
typewriter like a snail carries its shell and guarded it like a patriotic
vigilante. The typewriter was the only thing he incessantly declared ownership
of and it became a metaphor for his yearning,” said Mushakavanhu.
The characters in Mindblast, Mushakavanhu also noted, are
drifters, perennial job-seekers and prostitutes, and yet Marechera addresses
important issues through these characters.
The ‘From the Journal’
section, he said, among other issues bemoans the lack of literary
infrastructure in Zimbabwe in Marechera’s time and even today.
Mushakavanhu said as a
young person, he was excited when he went to university where he read
Zimbabwean history written by black Zimbabweans. In the last few years, more foreigners
were coming into the country to write more about Zimbabwe. He said this is also
evident in the local literary criticism which has only been written by a countable
number of Zimbabweans and this, he said, was because we have ‘a lazy generation
“I found it frustrating
to find out when I was studying in Europe that there were people who thought
that I was ‘not qualified’ to speak about Zimbabwean literature because they
already knew people considered to be experts of our literature, foreigners at
that. But I was there, a passionate Zimbabwean literary person,” said
A question was asked if
it would have been different if Marechera was still alive.
“He would have been
subdued at some point and perhaps quoted widely. If he had not existed, we
would have invented him because Marechera is necessary in order to engage in
discourse,” said Mushakavanhu.
Virginia Phiri and
Memory Chirere, both renowned writers, saw Marechera as an enterprising person.
“In the 70’s, no one
would get into Germany without a passport but Marechera was the only person who
went there without one when he was invited to read his works. He pitched up in
Berlin, to the amazement of many, to read his work. We lost him. He was just a
person of his own,” said Phiri.
Chirere said although
Marechera was an extreme individual, much thought should also focus on the role
of ‘others’ in his life. He gave examples of the role of ‘others’ who lived
Chirere said according
to the history of Mindblast, Marechera
never intended to bring it out as it is today but ‘others’ encouraged him to
put the pieces together. It was also ‘others’ particularly Stanley Nyamfukudza
and Chenjerai Hove who were behind the book’s acceptance by College Press, he
He also said that when
Marechera was awarded a scholarship to study in London, it was again ‘others’
who helped him financially. The House of
Hunger, the most popular of Marechera’s books, is in its present form
because of ‘others’ who encouraged Marechera to bring in other pieces together,
said Chirere. Marechera initially intended to publish the collection under the
title At the Head of the Stream.
Other instances in
which others took a role in Marechera’s life were when he was invited to Berlin
and when he came back to Zimbabwe.
Chirere said Marechera’s return to Zimbabwe had something to do with ‘others’
who wanted to shoot a film of his return.
quarrel with a person today and tomorrow he would be back to the same person,
asking for help. His negotiating skills were amazing,” Chirere said.
“Is he then his own man
or he is always being made by ‘others’ because he was talented? There is no
single project he does by himself,” said Chirere.
relationship with women also came under spotlight during open discussion. Mushakavanhu
conceded that most of the people who like Marechera are men and he quoted one
female Zimbabwean writer who at some point three years ago described Marechera
as a sexist and she sparked heated debate.
Mushakavanhu said there
were women who sought Marechera, gave him accommodation and after a few days
they would let him slip back into the streets. He said maybe the women did
something that made Marechera angry and therefore he projected that anger in
“Who would know the
truth that his mother was a prostitute or not? Marechera could have been
projecting that anger,” said Mushakavanhu.
Eresina Hwede, a
writer, said when she bought The Black
Insider (1990, Baobab Books) at the ZIBF sometime back and flipped through
the first few pages, she put the book aside because she could not grasp a
“To be honest, did
Marechera ever think anyone would understand him?” asked Hwede.
There was laughter in
the house when Mushakavanhu responded to Hwede’s question with a quote from
Marechera, that said, “I am astonished at the audience’s ignorance. I did not
expect such a low cultural level among you. Those who do not understand my work
are simply illiterate, one must learn.”
Hwede’s problem with
understanding Marechera’s works is with many readers who have oftentimes
described his works as incomprehensible and therefore esoteric.
Flora Veit-Wild, writing about his language in 1987, said, “With a highly
unusual choice of words and their contextual associations, through the
juxtaposition of opposites to the point of paradox, through the combination of
the contradictory, he created unexpected, inspired, shocking images of great
intensity.” (From an essay titled ‘Words as Bullets’, 1987)
runs through most of Marechera’s works and in the case of Mindblast, it has been said that Marechera wanted to ‘blow the
minds’ of the people of Zimbabwe.
Jerry Zondo, a writer
and friend of Marechera, brought up a curious issue when he said that the
‘enfant terrible of African literature’ lost many works while at college
because he would not put his name on some of the poems/scripts.
This could be an area
of interest for many scholars and researchers and with it also comes the issue
of editorial changes seemingly being made in some of the editions of
Marechera’s works that are being published today.
Zondo closed the
discussion by reading the popular poem titled ‘The Bar-Stool Edible Worm’ in Mindblast.
Acknowledgement: Picture of Charles Mungoshi and Dambudzo Marechera used courtesy of Ernst Schade
pioneer: In 2010 WIN was sown as a seed in
a garden of ideas hatched by seasoned writers such as the late Julius Sekai Chingono
(pictured above as he read his poem ‘Dai’ at the inaugural WIN’s Writers End of
Year Get-Together in December 2010 at the old Book Café, Harare). The seed is growing...
seed ought to grow, the saying goes. And the words have borne weight on
WIN-Zimbabwe’s bid to become one the country’s leading new writers’
associations. For that reason, we are happy with the coming in of two new Board
members Rodgers Matsikidze and Gamuchirai Chihambakwe and we faithfully believe
their contribution will carry the vision forward. Golden Baobab Prize is here
again; we urge you to enter the contest. Let us keep attending book club
discussions, writers’ meetings and all other literary events in our cities,
towns, and communities. Be reminded that we are still accepting poems for the ‘4 in 1’ Poetry Anthology and short
stories for the Annual Short Story Writing Competition.Enjoy!
WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBERS
International Network Zimbabwe has appointed two new members onto its Advisory
Board as part of its internal strategic plan to strengthen the organization and
ensure professional delivery of services to members.
new board members are Rodgers Matsikidze, a duly registered legal practitioner, conveyancer, notary public and
arbitrator, and Gamuchirai Chihambakwe, a writer and editor.
The appointment comes at a time when WIN is
witnessing some positive growth in its membership and in the appreciation of
its literary activities.
Early this year Philip Chidavaenzi, a pioneering Board
member, tendered his voluntary resignation citing personal commitments while another
founding Board member Julius Sekai Chingono passed on in 2011, hence the
appointment to replace their positions.
In her motivational letter,
Chihambakwe said, “It
is with great honour that I have been invited to participate on this platform
(WIN). It is my hope and desire that I will not only contribute my time and
services but also be part of this awakening Zimbabwean voice defining itself
and shaping its own destiny.”
Board now consists of nine members, namely, Josephine Muganiwa (Chairperson),
Edwin Mhandu, Gamuchirai Chihambakwe, Rodgers Matsikidze, Ivor W Hartmann
(South Africa), Emmanuel Sigauke (USA), Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Christopher
Mlalazi and Sarudzayi Barnes (UK). Read more about the Board members on our page: Advisory Board
STUDENTS ESTABLISH WRITERS CLUB
Lisbon T Chigwenjere, leader of WORD Writers’ Club at
Midlands State University
fifteen students from Midlands State University have established a writers’
club named WORD which stands for Writers of Recent Day. The club, initiated by
Lisbon Tawanda Chigwenjere (pictured), a student of Politics and Public
Management, has since submitted its affiliation details to WIN.
club is running under the patronage of Isheunesu
Chaka from the Student Development Department. H.T Ngoshi from the Department
of English and Communication is the club advisor.
a working committee of Fanele Maqele as Vice Chair, Tinashe Mudimbu as
Treasurer, and Lucky Dube as secretary, the club is set to inspire more
students at the university to write and read literature.
members of the club include Liberty Tatenda Chigwenjere (Lisbon’s twin
brother), Calvin Chakabveyo, Persistence Matanhire, Phila Mafu, Lilian Maphosa,
Richard Runyararo Mahomva, Sphiwe Maduni, Kudakwashe Dangarembga, Amy Vimbai
Chauke, Nomphato Ngcobo, Sindisiwe Nkomo and Constance Rondinyu.
its submission, the club said they mainly aim to fight human evils such as
tribalism and racism through writing, to see professional assessment of their manuscripts which
will result in publications of their works, to hold training workshops and writing
contests, and to have their own regular college publication.
Chigwenjere, stage name ‘Babamukuru’, is a brilliant upcoming performance poet
who is expecting his debut Christian poetry anthology Enter the Gateway to be out by August this year. The anthology is
being published in America by TL Publishing.
BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION
OF MARECHERA’S MINDBLAST IN PICTURES
Embassy of Spain's Cultural Center held its book club discussion of Dambudzo
Marechera’s book Mindblastor the Definitive Buddy (1984), a College Press edition, on April
16 with Tinashe Mushakavanhu as the main presenter. More details in the write-up to follow soon.
Writer and academic Tinashe
Mushakavanhu making his presentation
A thoughtful Mushakavanhu giving
a superb interpretation of ‘Mindblast’
Some of the discussants at the
Jerry Zondo reading the poem ‘The
Bar-Stool Edible Worm’ from the book Mindblast
HOST NEW YORK POET CAITS MEISSNER
Caits Meissner, award winning
community arts educator, poet and writer
is scheduled to host poet Caits Meissner this year in August. More
details coming soon! Meanwhile, enjoy Caits’ website: CAITS MEISSNER
RECEIVES BOOK DONATION
Books donated by Zimbabwe Reads
April 3, 2013, Zimbabwe Reads, an organization that is doing commendable work in
the provision of reading materials to Zimbabwean schools, libraries, colleges, community
and organizations, made a second book donation to Writers International Network
Zimbabwe to enhance thoughtful reading activities.
first donation of books from Zimbabwe Reads was made last year.
books, which are mainly by English classical authors such as DH Lawrence, Jane
Austen, and George Orwell, and some textbooks on literature, will be used under
WIN’s monthly reading circle programme which is likely to start in May at the
National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
circles, also called literature circles, offer aspiring writers with
opportunity to communicate and encourage thoughtful discussions and love for
reading. Once every month, WIN members will meet to talk about either their
unpublished works, works of other established writers or discuss some element
of literature such as characterization, style, point of view, etc.
WIN will also give away books to affiliate clubs that warrant maximum
utilization of the books.
T. Nyamajiwa is a success coach, motivational speaker and author of the
exciting and practical book "Go Higher" (2011) which touches on
facing and overcoming personal and organizational challenges. He is also a customer
service consultant, events director, workshops facilitator and trainer. Over
the past four and half years, James has been presenting papers at platforms in
the arts and business sectors, in schools, women forums, churches and in the
retail industry. He holds several qualifications in Business Administration,
ICT and managerial as well as publishing experience gained in different
institutions. James runs a private business involved in entrepreneurship
training and development .He is planning to set up a publishing house.)
Pamakafa mai ndakachema neshungu,
Ndakanyaradzwa nehama nechivimbo
Nhasi pidigu dzi dzave mhandu
Ndave mhandu kwavari havachada
Chandatadza kwavari ndachishaya
vondishungurudza ndisina kana mhaka
(Tendai Maduwa is the founder of AWAKE Zimbabwe, an organization that seeks to educate young people about HIV and AIDSprevention and child abuse. He is a performing artist, motivational speaker, actor, writer and poet. Maduwa will from August 1 to August 5 represent Zimbabwe at the first ever Kistreach Festival in Kenya)
MAN OF THE PEOPLE
The late Walter L Muparutsa
(pictured below), the man without whom WIN-Zimbabwe would not have come this far…
...with lots of love
Falls – Zimbabwe
Gerald Saidi (above)
over astonishingly dented cliffs
over scenic indigenous trees
your sight fall over ebony rocks
the distinct cliffs in wonder
you ponder over the Supreme Hand that chiseled them
heart filled with awe
sight guzzling thundering smoke
heart dazzled with cascading spume
rumble of suds hissing into your ears
fizz of rainbow hooking your gaze
rages of a cataract evoking tingling sensations
a smog falls into water
splashing in roars
surrounding phenomenal hollow
hollow bustling with deafening bubbles
in puddles of muddles
puddles in bubbles of fuddles
muddles of puddles bubble with cuddles
a waggle of jiggles of puddles
jiggle of a fuddle of bubbles
your sight toggles with a joggle of wonder
your skin touches warm mist
your breath fuses with fog
sight falling with a flume of thundering smoke
muffled smoke falling with a plume of mist
hushed mist falling without measure
your eyes treasure
pleasure at leisure
marveling at the Creator’s figment of imagination!!!
It can only be Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe!
Saidi is a registered and practicing Legal Practitioner, Conveyancer, and
Notary Public. He says he started reciting poetry when he first screamed after
his birth and continued to recite poetry when he was a snot-nosed infant. He also
says he started writing when he learned to mould letters of the English