I love the arts and culture, I love reading, At my best I am tucked away in a good book, immersed in new found characters many of whom challenge our status quo on deep issues in our society. I remember missing my train stops so many times when I was reading Non Violet Bulawayo’s We need new Names’, I struggled to get into Home Going by Yaa Ghasi, but once I was away, I was in those slave caves with all the characters, I dont want ever finish that book.
A good writer has the ability to draw the reader in until their own emotions are in questions, My moral campus was shaken when I read ‘Lolita’ by Vladmir Nabakov, Nabakov was insainly mesmerizing, I felt something of an anger, irritability, and and endless inquisitiveness. That Nabakov continuously pleads with the reader to stay with him is the precise art of writing, creative writing at its best. The Poison Wood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, is up there with my favorites, I loved how the father was such a significant figure, yet the reader doesn’t actually get to meet him.
On the Zimbabwean scene many writers are breaking ground, despite and perhaps even because of the challenges. The art of writing comes from something deep within. I absolutely love Petinah Gappah’s work and cant wait to read her new book ‘In Search of Livingstone’ Companions‘ For mesmerising and intoxicating poetry and writing without limits or fear, I run to Philani Amadeus Nyoni.
Writing is art, it has the ability to invoke feelings and gives the writer freedom and permission to explore and draw the reader in, thats why I return to it again and again, and why I sponsored the Zimbabwe National Merit Awards in the category of Outstanding First Creative Published Writing.
From the nominees, Kelvin Mangwende’s story touched my heart.
“I was born in Murewa at St Paul’s Mission, I attended several primary schools namely Chiremba, Nyandoro, Mabvuku and Farai Primary School in Chitungwiza” Kelvin begins his story.
“I migrated one place to another because of the difficult circumstances that I was living in. My parents divorced when I was 4 years old, I lived with my step mother for two years but the environment was harsh, my mother came and took me then I was living with her mother in Chitungwiza. My secondary education I attended Seke 4 high, Zengeza 4, Cecil Hardy High School then Herentals. I passed my O’levels, but I didn’t proceed to A’level. My mother passed away in 2002 after she divorced with my step father. I continued to stay with my grandmother unfortunately she too passed away soon after,” Kelvin says.
“The property that my mother has left for me including the house was taken by my grandfather leaving me without a roof over my head. I started writing in Grade 6 composing poems even at a Secondary School I was a Play-Write, writing drama scripts for the school,” Kelvin adds.
As a reader and a lover of arts, I wondered how distance and travel influenced the writer, or to a deeper extend how loss and grief had shaped his writing. Kelvin was keen to share his story, he wanted to share this journey, the journey of a young Zimbabwean writer, who had experiences layers of looses, travelled around Southern Africa, in search of himself and a place to call home. A writer who had been nominated for a NAMA Award
“I went to Namibia looking for a job but it was not easy that time,” Kelvin continued. “I started to sell brooms and mops in the street, I was writing my books in the street even under a tower light in the evening. I wrote the Rainbird is Dead and Chaminuka in Namibia. I still remember when I submitted my manuscripts to a local publisher in Zimbabwe in 2002 they didn’t bother to look inside or read them because they were looking for big names, they gave me back my manuscripts back in 2010! It was a huge set back how come a manuscripts stay such a time without a review? I found a part time job in Namibia as a Pre-School teacher. I was a story telling residence teaching English, I continued to write on the streets of Windhoek walking with my manuscripts in the sapping sun.”
“I am a Play-Write, essayist, and poet. I published my book Chaminuka when I was in South Africa, I wrote Chimurenga in Mozambique. I published The Rainbird is Dead an anthology of poems when I was in Angola, I wrote the The Black Stars and Sons and Daughters in Namibia,” Kelvin adds.
“I travelled a lot experiencing different cultures. The Rainbird is dead was featured in the best 100 African Poets. I have featured in several anthologies across the globe. My book ‘Misodzi Yerombe’ was nominated for the NAMA 2017 Award. I was ecstatic, it was a great step ahead. I wrote that book when my relatives didn’t care about me especially my biological father. That book touched my heart it portrays the life that I had lived, the pain, suffering and the isolation,” Kelvin adds.
“I wondered about the lack of female nominees this year?” I asked Kelvin. He laughed off my question then said, that is bizarre because most of my writing had largely been influenced by female writers.
“My latest publication of 2017 is a collection of short stories named Runako they is four short stories Mhindupindu, Runako, Akava Matindingoma, Kudzingirira Mhepo,” Kelvin concludes.
I am very grateful to Archie Mhone and Mr Nicholas Moyo at the Ministry of Arts and Culture for smoothing every process. I look forward to further collaborations.
Thank you to Professor Diane Jeater for her insights, I am honoured to be in your circles.
Well done to all the nominees for in the category of NAMA First Published Creative Writing. Nominees were:
Tears and Scars by Penjeni Madzikangava
Behind the Wall Everywhere by Farai Mungoshi (Winner)
Misodzi Yerombe by Kelvin Mangwende
Director of Tribal Sands
All rights reserved. 2017