WIN-Zimbabwe Founder and Director, Beaven Tapureta
Dear Friends, it is that time of the year again when we re-digest the year in retrospection. How great it feels to have something you can call ‘last’ which implies there was the ‘first’. This is our last newsletter for 2014 and if truth be told, it really has been exciting. Thank you for reading. Although certain realities tried to debilitate our vision, we stood strong, knowing that writing and reading are essentials to you, us and posterity. We are grateful for the amazing support we received from writers (published and unpublished), publishers, organisations, friends and relatives. We would like to thank most the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust who made it possible for WIN-Zimbabwe to be accommodated in the CBD. With a room of our own in town, you can imagine the magic that a writer can make happen. We are aware that we, at times, just as some other creators in Zimbabwe, create under very difficult and pitiful circumstances but we forge ahead because there are certain passions you cannot let go. One day it will be well. We cannot forget Auntie Thelma Boettrich for housing us before we moved into the city centre and the inspiration. We cannot forget all of you who supported us with unconditional love. The WIN Advisory Board, Founder & Director and our team of assistants would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and Prosperous 2015. The blog carries so many memories of 2014 and all one needs to do is relax and sail through.
May God bless you all, please enjoy!
BHABHU BOOKS CALLING FOR SHONA STORIES
Writer and Storyteller Ignatius Mabasa
Writers in Shona language have an opportunity already knocking on their doors as a local publishing house Bhabhu Books recently launched calls for Shona short stories for possible publication in a forthcoming anthology titled ‘Makore Asina Mvura’.
Bhabhu Books, which is run by award-winning author Ignatius Tirivangani Mabasa, says it has been moved by the growing number of Shona writers who are devoid of means to publish their works.
“We hope that this anthology will offer talented Shona writers the opportunity to be published, get known and grow the Shona language,” said Bhabhu Books in a statement.
As this anthology will be one of the great ways in which Bhabhu is promoting and preserving Shona language, writers are encouraged not to expect any royalties. However, the publisher has devised other means of rewarding contributors.
“No fees, honorarium or royalties will be paid on publication. Each contributing author will receive 10 free copies of the anthology and if they need more copies will be able to buy at the wholesale price from Bhabhu Books. Thereafter if Bhabhu Books sells permissions on your story, you will be entitled to 60 per cent of any fee charged, and Bhabhu 40 per cent, 20 per cent of which will go to admin costs,” the statement said.
Bhabhu Books specializes in publishing Shona books and promoting a reading culture. It was formed about four years ago by Mabasa who authored the novels ‘Mapenzi’, ‘Ndafa Here?’ and ‘Imbwa YeMunhu’. Bhabhu Books has so far published writers such as Tinashe Muchuri, Memory Chirere, Jerry Zondo and Chenjerai Mazambani.
The stories Bhabhu Books is looking for under the title ‘Makore Asina Mvura’, should ‘focus on the metaphorical and even real aspects of this phrase’. Only 10-15 stories will be selected. The length of the story should be between 1500 and 5000 words and the deadline for submission is Friday, February 20, 2015.
Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org marked ‘Makore Asina Mvura’ in the subject and stating your name, age, gender and contact details. For more information, visit: www.bhabhubooks.com
MARANGWANDA LAUNCHES 'SHARDS'
Cynthia Marangwanda's parents came to support their daughter at the launch
Spoken word artist and writer Cynthia Marangwanda-Banda, also known as Flowchyld, officially launched her novella ‘Shards’ last evening (December 23).
The Book Café, at which the launch took place, teemed with Cynthia’s fellow poets and most wonderful was the presence of the author’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. FJ Marangwanda, and family members.
The launch began with Cynthia reading from her novella. Then in a rare model of a literary conversation between author and husband (poet Michael Banda), Cynthia said she chose the title ‘Shards’ because the characters in the story have fractured minds and souls.
If you are used to literary conversations, you will never stop asking if the conversation would have been different had a different writer/literary critic anchored it? How much is exposed or hidden in kinds of public literary conversations conducted between the author and his/her spouse?
Asked if the novella which is based on African traditional spirituality was kind of campaign material, she said as an author she only write ‘to tell a story’ and how readers respond to it is a matter of their own knowledge and free viewpoints.
Different questions from the audience followed after the conversation and issues of schizophrenia, DNA, and anarchy in relation to the context in ‘Shards’ were scrutinized.
Cynthia said it only took her one year to put together ‘Shards’ which initially emerged in fragments. The book is available at the Book Café Bookshop for US$12.50 a copy.
Guests at the launch were also treated to cool jazz music from Vera, a new local songster.
For a review of ‘Shards’, you can go to this link: Writing Runs In This Family
THE YOUTH PERSPECTIVE
Multi-talents in this world
How many things can you say you can do? Can you play the piano and allow your fingers to move in melody as one? Or sing a solo in a choir and take the audiences breath away with your vocal ability? Can you write poetry and deliver the words as good on paper as you can speak? Or can you rap and tell a story within those energetic rhythms? Or can you solve a mathematical equation without missing a beat? Or better yet still can you do all of the above and more at the same time? It’s interesting to watch one perform more than what we have already seen on and off stage because it makes us realize that we truly have been blessed by the Lord with these gifts of skills but the real question is how can you use all of these options to your advantage?
As youths we envy those who can call themselves by multiple names and have the skills to back it up as well but the thing we need to remember is that everyone is diverse. We cannot be jealous of the person next to us who can sing, dance and act; and sadly enough, they are now seen as a threat. We should be congratulating those who can do all these activities and at the same time see how best we can learn from them. But then there are those who take these gifts for granted and don’t know how to use them for something that will help others in the future. They take the easy way out and do not realize that there are so many others out there who wish they had as much talent as others have.
The world has so many doors open to them because of the variety that they have from within and if you look hard enough you can find those opportunities that will help you build a nice life for yourself and your loved ones. The best way to find these opportunities is to ask around and do your homework. Furthermore, do your research with every kind of media that you can get your hands on because these days many people from the older generation are looking for kids with these talents to help them. Believe it or not, adults of today are being brave enough about asking kids for help because they know there is something that they do not know, that you might know. Listen to the conversations the adults are having amongst themselves and you will find that most of them are aiming to take advantage of us kids.
This time round instead of them taking advantage of us let us take advantage of them and see how best we can utilize our findings. Let us tip the scales and use the information to develop the world of creativity and have extra child stars out there shining more than the elders once did in the 70s and 80s. Let us develop the world of academics and have a teenager as a CEO of a business knowing that fresher and newer ideas will be pouring into the company name and having our future looking brighter than ever. And finally let’s develop the world of literature and make sure that our stories are continuously being told in a more entertaining fashion because if we keep having adults tell their side, then how do we fit ourselves into the scene?
It would be amazing to see young faces being successful for a change instead of watching the unstable fall and being a bad influence to future geniuses out there who are being born every minute every day. The multi-talents on earth need to share the gifts with the whole world and realize that there is a reason why they were put in this position of inner power. It is not good to withdraw and keep one’s gift to yourself. Let us wake up every day and say, “I’ve made a difference in someone’s life; let’s hope and pray that they have taken in what I’ve taught them and maybe there will be a positive tomorrow.”
With that thought in mind I have this to leave you with. If you know that you can perform unusual and exciting new endowments do not forget that someone next to you also wish that they could do what you are doing. Be proud of the person you are as a multi-talented individual and have enough humility to teach those who do not know how to do it because as youths we want to eventually take over and we cannot do that if there is no one like us, who is for us, to lead us into the battle to rescue the gifts we have.
Thank you very much for reading my column. Enjoy your Christmas and a Happy New Year!
TENDAI HUCHU'S LATEST OFFERING
Surely, personal bookshelves will soon or later sag under overload of new Zimbabwean books as local publishers (new and established) continue to produce books almost at brief intervals. One of the publishers, Bulawayo-based Amabooks, this year published well-known writer Tendai Huchu’s second novel titled ‘The Maestro, The Magistrate and The Mathematician’. We indeed look forward to reading Huchu’s second offering. His first novel is called ‘The Hairdresser of Harare’ and is also available from Weaver Press in Harare.
CREATIVITY AND OUR COMMUNITY
The other way in which societal institutions stifle creative talents and intelligent people is through the financial costs one has to endure to realise their potential. For example in Zimbabwe, most young people who are musically talented bemoan lack of financial capacity to have their music recorded due to the high financial requirements that are needed for one to enter a recording studio. Similarly intelligent people might see their intelligence going to waste due to, for example, high tuition fees demanded by learning institutions where one can go to study for higher education. However talent development according to Thomas (2013) does not need much money. Societal institutions like schools do not need huge funds to let the children sit and imagine and put it to paper. For example, in painting the most basic resource needed is paper, a set of pencils, maybe with colours. And in most cases, it is all brought to school by the student. Thus, in the elementary stages of talent cultivation, not much money is involved and it is this formative stage that is the most important.
Adding to the above line of argument Thomas (2013) goes on to say that art is a person's inherent skill and it is the true expression of his or her inner being. He or she is not taught art but was rather born with it, now since he or she was gifted with this free of cost, s/he must put in some effort in life. Now the effort s/he puts in is the risk s/he faces by going up against a hostile world which looks down upon him or her. Sandra Ndebele is one such person who pursued a career opposite to her belief systems and was met with a lot of reprimand from family and community around. Being Pastor’s daughter, her music and style of dancing was met with opposition as it went against her belief systems. Nothing good comes free and the price one pays for becoming an artist is by risking his or her life. Given this scenario artists must not bother if no one ever patted them on the back and encouraged him.
However, the argument that artists must not bother if no one encourages them tend to be ignorant of the power and influence of culture. In India for example, people who pursue art are stigmatised so much by the orthodox society that they tend to conceal their talents and creativity in art as if it was something to be ashamed of. The popular careers there are into science and technology especially engineering. In Indian thinking, no art or language has changed the way humans live, no art has ever revolutionised life as a whole, so artists are not considered a prerequisite for a developed nation of the modern era. This kind of thinking is also typical in Zimbabwean society. Now looking at Abraham Maslow’s esteem needs on the hierarchy of needs theory, it follows that people need to feel good about themselves, to feel that they have earned the respect of others, in order to feel satisfied, self-confident and valuable. If these needs are not met, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless leading to the concept of fear of success or doubting their talent. Some researchers believe that the "fear of success" syndrome first introduced by Horner (1972) may be a key factor in understanding the problems facing gifted women. Fear of success may cause some talented women to believe that they will be rejected by their peers or that they will appear undesirable to the opposite sex if they are too competent or successful. Horner (1972) explained that many capable young women change their plans to accommodate a less ambitious, more traditionally acceptable roles. Thus creative talents are generally regarded as a waste in most Zimbabwean communities, the bearers of such talents end up giving up on them to pursue the generally socially accepted academic root.
Educational policy and system in Zimbabwe is also a culprit in undermining creative talents According to Reis (2000) the current education system in America is "educating people out of their creativity". This also applies to the Zimbabwean situation where academic learning is upheld at family, community, school and policy level. Even though room has been made for creative pupils with the introduction of some art, literature and practical subjects and courses, still the employment environment seem to promote giftedness in the smart students. Even on prize giving ceremonies most emphasis is on academic subjects. Many characters that were so talented and gifted in acting in Zimbabwe such as Mukadota, Paraffin, now Gringo, Kapfupi and Sabhuku Vhara Zipi, there is not much being done to promote them in the art industry. Weis (2000) adds that the classroom isn’t designed for impulsive and creative expression. Instead, it’s all about obeying group dynamics and exerting focused attention. Those are important life skills, of course, but decades of psychological research suggest that such skills have little to do with creativity. Expectation of conformity that governs the classroom learning runs contrary to the spirit of creativity. Buescher and his associates (1987) studied gifted adolescent boys and girls and found that while 15% of boys hide their ability in school, 65% of girls consistently hide their talents. Reis (1998) found that gifted girls do not want to be considered different from their friends and same-age peers. For many gifted girls, however, the problem becomes more difficult as they become women and their talents and gifts set them apart from their peers and friends. In addition to hiding abilities, some gifted and talented individuals begin to doubt that they have abilities. In a study of female graduates who attended a school for gifted students for five decades, Walker, Reis, & Leonard (1992) found that three out of four women did not believe they had superior intelligence. If women do not recognize their potential, they often do not fulfil it. In this study, it was found that these gifted women selected mediocre and gender stereotypic jobs, usually due to pressure from parents and teachers.
In addition to the education system that is discriminatory against creative talents the school environment also plays a role in stifling the growth of such talents. One of the most consistent findings in educational studies of creativity has been that teachers dislike personality traits associated with creativity. Research has indicated that teachers prefer traits that seem to run counter to creativity, such as conformity and unquestioning acceptance of authority (Bachtold, 1974). The reason for teachers’ preferences is quite clear creative people tend to have traits that some have referred to as obnoxious (Torrance, 1963). Torrance (1963) describes creative people as not having the time to be courteous, as refusing to take no for an answer, and as being negativistic and critical of others. Research has suggested that traits associated with creativity may not only be neglected, but actively punished. Stone (1980) found that second graders who scored highest on tests of creativity were also those identified by their peers as engaging in the most misbehaviour, like getting in trouble the most. Given that research and theory suggest that a supportive environment is important to the fostering of creative talent; it is quite possible that teachers are, perhaps unwittingly, extinguishing creative behaviours.
HIS DEBUT SHONA NOVEL COMING NEXT YEAR
Muchuri reading from forthcoming novel 'Chibarabada' at a ZWA literary function in Harare this year
Tinashe Muchuri, a spoken word artist, poet, writer and actor, will be publishing his novel titled ‘Chibarabada’ next year. How good it would be to finally hold the book in our hands and enjoy it! He has been reading excerpts of novel at different literary events. We are sure one day Muchuri will tell us the journey of patience the manuscript has walked so far before publication.
The picture below shows fellow writer, poet and actor Lexta Mafumhe Mutasa holds the ‘Chibarabada’ manuscript while enjoying at the 2011 WIN Writers’ End of Year Get-Together at the Book Café. Next to Mutasa is Mashingaidze Gomo, author of a thrilling book ‘A Fine Madness’ and to his left, is Clever Kavenga, a published children’s literature writer.
Festive Season Poem
Mudikani: I felt it around me
And I have it secured in my heart.
Well I could almost touch it and
Instead let me share it with you.
That special feeling
Joy so real
It’s that spirit of the moment
Filling up the young and old yet young at heart
A spirit which revives
So welcoming and hearty
Ooh that festive spirit
Let it in
Feel it within
And share it around
Take a step into the scene and live
The passion of the spirit
Donald: Festive season is here
I can feel it
My heartbeat skips with happiness
Skyline so lurid
Joy and jubilation written on each and everyone’s face
Passion and zeal burn like fire
Heart leaps with joy, embracing
The spirit of happiness
Zeal burning like fire
A fire that purifies love
Igniting the spirit of giving and sharing
It is very possible for us to survive
We wish to be victims of a massacre
At this home dying is not easier
We are begging to die earlier
Dying is harder
Life no longer frightens us
Our lives are an account of suffering
Everlasting life they ushered to us
And they brag it is only for dogs
They taught us how to think and live
We are persecuted and tortured
Whenever we fight and strive for our death
It is very
Not to die
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!