Artists find comfort in fame


HARARE – Creative writers Ignatius Mabasa and Albert Nyathi have said success in the local arts and writing industry should be measured on how one’s work is appreciated by the public as the industry does not yield meaningful monetary gains.

They said these sentiments ahead of a writers’ meeting scheduled for this Saturday. Nyathi, also a dub poet, will be one of the guest speakers.

The meeting is  bi-monthly held by the Zimbabwe Writers Association (ZWA). “The meeting will be held under the theme How To Make Money and a Livelihood Through Writing.”

Nyathi said, “Initially, you must not aim for money, you must be driven by the passion for writing or art. The challenge that I normally see with youngsters is that they think about money and rush. If they do not get the money they are shattered.

“I do not measure success in monetary terms, but by the way people accept my work. I would measure it by the audience that appreciates my work and I think that is the way to go especially in our local environment,” he said.

Nyathi added that he also measures success by how he hungers for more people to read and appreciate his work.

“I have performed for presidents, people of high profiles, this alone I want to do it more. This hunger for more is also my way of measuring success. I want more people to get motivated or touched by my work and that I consider success,” he said.

Mabasa echoed the same sentiments saying satisfaction comes from the way people use his literary works.

“From an artistic point of view the issue must be about validation, if there are people out there that can accept my work then I consider that success. For me considering that my books are used in schools, that is success.

“That success does not however, amount to money; it is not possible in Zimbabwe at this moment. There is not much in terms of money when it comes to being artistic; you have to find other means to sustain yourself. That is why I have storytelling sessions so that I can supplement myself. Creative artists  must diversify in order to make a good living as depending on writing alone is a bit difficult.

“Look at people like Lovemore Majaivana who gave up music because it was not paying him. There are only a few lucky ones like Oliver Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso who are reaping the fruits of their hard labour. The rest have to supplement, it does not mean that they are not good, but it is the industry that is not viable,” he said.

Mabasa said writers’ get only 10 percent of sales made from their books.

“In an industry plagued by piracy it is not much, hence people need to supplement to sustain themselves,” he said.

Last year during the book fair, authorities confiscated a truckload of pirated books.

Of the load, $22 300 worth of books belonged to College Press.

Even the incident, there are still pirated copies available on the streets.

ZWA strives to bring together all writers in order to encourage creative writing, reading and publishing in all forms possible, conduct workshops and provide for literary discussions.

It was founded in July 2010.

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