UK-based poet celebrates Zim writers

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Eddie Zvinonzwa

AWARD-WINNING United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean international and sustainable development goals specialist and elder rights advocate, Tendai Immanuel, pictured is set to launch her first book, a poetry anthology titled Speak, next month.

Set to be launched on October 24, the poetry collection focuses on gender-based violence (GBV) and also seeks to celebrate Zimbabwean writers; living and departed.

The late Zimbabwean novelist and poet Dambudzo Marechera has some poems dedicated to him in the anthology, a project on which the writer is working with Mungoshi Press.

In an interview with the Daily News this week, Immanuel — a global speaker who has graced international fora that include Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings, European Commission and United Nations General Assembly side events among others, said: “As a nation, we have been blessed with a good number of talented writers, authors and poets. In this volume, we celebrate a controversial and even more brilliant Marechera. It is my honour to have this anthology published with the support of Mungoshi Press.

“The late Charles Mungoshi is one of my all-time favourite authors. I grew up reading his books as did many of our fellow brothers and sisters across Africa and beyond. His remarkable novel Waiting for the Rain comes to mind. On the other hand, Mordecai Mnhile Hamutyinei’s exciting Shona narrative, Kusasana Kunoparira, was one of my set texts in school. I could go on and on.”

Perhaps one refreshing thing is that Immanuel acknowledges and celebrates writers like the late Hamutyinei, whose major works; both prose and poetry are in the mother language. Without doubt, the late Mungoshi remains one of the few writers who published across the two languages of Shona and English.

The young writer added: “To me, Marechera was an exceptionally gifted talent. The House of Hunger, an epic and award-winning classic, is unapologetically hard-hitting. I marvel at how sports and arts offer nations heroes, superheroes to be celebrated not only for their talent but also a sense of pride in a nation. I believe we have to and can do so much more as a nation to honour such gifted sons and daughters of the soil.

“There is no harm for example in having the University of Zimbabwe naming a hall The Dambudzo Marechera Hall, for example. Beyond this, celebrating our own greats is a must.’’

Interestingly, the UZ early in 1987 hosted a Zimbabwean writing symposium in the institution’s famous Great Hall — which this writer attended — at which Marechera and other departed authors like Mungoshi, Chenjerai Hove among others presented papers, among other writers from Africa and beyond, notably Ngugi wa Thiongo.

Marechera died on August 18 of that year while Hove and Mungoshi, who both — at separate times though — held the writer-in-residence position at the UZ, died on July 12, 2015. and February 16, 2019 respectively.

Immanuel continued: “Surely, we should cheer louder for Marechera, Mungoshi and other greats than we do for William Shakespeare. I grew up on the proverb Mwana wamambo muranda kumwe (A king’s son is a servant in other lands). What a sad day when Mwana wamambo (a king’s son) by grit and exceptional talent is reduced to just a poem in a book by his own soil. Let us keep the names and works of our great writers, authors and poets, artists alive.”

Speak explores a variety of love-related themes, namely; love, failed love, secret love while also interrogating gender-based violence as we approach the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV, which will run from November 25 to December 10 when the world marks the International Day of No Violence Against Women.

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