Somehow I missed the Dambudzo Marechera Commemoration on August 18.

Dambudzo Marechera died in 1987, shortly after a classmate of mine in Zvishavane introduced me to House of Hunger. Most of the scenes I remember vividly are the ones from my first reading of the book when I was in Form 3. I remember liking the description of the character’s fight with a group of white students at the then University of Rhodesia, all because they had caught him walking with his white girlfriend. I found his selection of words in describing the fight captivating; then I also fell in love with the descriptions of Chimurenga, and student life. My school then did not have any student activism,perhaps there was not motivation anymore since the students were enjoying the fruits (euphoria) of independence.

Years later, I found myself reading the book over and over again in New Complex 3 at UZ, sometimes in the Students Union, trying to connect my days with the author’s, and someone, a British scholar, had already exposed me to the banned-in-Zimbabwe (back then)Black Sunlight. Nice stuff; nice stuff. We all (most students did), got hooked to Marechera as the measure of radical rhetoric. I connected with his work in that anxiety-of-influence way Bloom talks about, always worrying that all I could ever dream to write about had already been exhausted by Marechera. But no, there is so much that the man had no opportunity to cover due to his early departure. So I forgot about August 18? Could it be because of the (my current) focus on the late Christopher Okigbo who is being remembered at the same time? No, I was just too busy developing the Marechera legacy; in short, I was working on my poetry, and reading Marechera’s Symetry of Mind for inspiration!

Dangarembga’s fictional thesis statement in Nervous Conditions

Now that the Fall semester is about to begin, I am rereading Nervous Conditions in preparation for my Literature and Compostion class. I can’t help but notice that the author gives us a clear map, which carries the purpose of the novel, in the first paragraph. See the following sentence:

“… My story is not after all about death, but about my escape and Lucia’s; about my mother’s and Maiguru’s entrapment, and about Nyasha’s rebellion….” (1).

Dangarembga makes the focus of the novel on women immediately noticeable, but what strikes me as I read the novel is the smell of familiarity. I picture the novel happening somewhere in Chimanimani, but I can’t quite see the picture of the terrain (still reading), which makes me set the story in Mutambara, the land of the Sigauke people. I don’t know where in the Eastern Higlands Dangarembga hails from, and that does not matter; what I like is my placement of the novel in a familiar location so as to position the story in some familiar experience. Elsewhere I have mentioned the coincedental similarity of my last name Sigauke and that of the novel’s family; well, it gets more interesting:I have a niece named Lucia. Again, this is not very important in helping me discuss the novel, but such details help position the story in that familiar terrain of experience that I have begun (here) to problematize.

New Resource for Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions


I am going to be teaching Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions in Fall 2007! I am looking forward to explore this rich novel with my Literature and Composition class. To aide in the smoother journey through this book, I have created some web pages committed to information on Nervous Conditions on my website Munyori:Home for Writers. I will be updating the website frequently, depending on the aspects of the novel the class is covering. More information on the way.

Amy King and Public discourse

In her interview at Library of Congress, Amy King points out many great truths about poetry today. She states that the internet is providing poets the opportunities of easier publicity of their work. Of course, she is careful to mention that the availability of the internet does not mean that we should weaken poetry. What’s happening now is we don’t have to be completely at the mercy of the big publishers. We can easily showcase our poetry online. In view of this, I have been looking at the diverse online media publishing poetry online, and I have noticed that there may be the temptation to sacrifice quality for quantity, publicising instead of publishing work. Is there a difference? I blog my poetry first, which means I create and publish my work instantaneously, but I am aware that this is some form of drafting; I always transfer the work to a local document for editing. Once the poem sounds polished, I send it to journals. Blogging has allowed me to produce more poetry in one year than I could have done in a long stretch of time. Look at the blogged pieces as the raw materials for high-quality poetry. So the message here is not to be deceived by the “Publish” key in blogs to think that the work is complete.The advantage of the internet and small presses is that we have opportunities to give ourselves the glory of publication/publicity before we are considered noticeable.

Support New Zimbabwe Through Humanitarianism –

The organization Munhu is one of the efforts humanitarians everywhere are working to help children in Zimbabwe. While developed countries are busy placing sanctions on Zimbabwe because of Mugabe and his authoritarian government, the exemplary democracies are ignoring the plight of the innocent. Children are the most vulnerable when adults are involved in ego-duets/truets. Therefore, when I see the efforts of organizations like Munhu Inc., which is based in Coppell, Texas, I see some hope in the future of the most important segment of the Zimbabwean population – children. Below are the objectives of MUNHU:

Education

Help AIDS orphans by keeping them in school.

Health
Help monitor the health and emotional wellbeing of children
Help in identifying an adult to monitor and supervise the children.

Caregiver Support program
Provide assistance to care givers who are dealing with AIDS patients.
Provide gloves, antiseptics and other basic necessities to help with care giving.
Economic
Promote entrepreneurial programs among villagers, by providing micro grants for small cottage businesses.

Munhu operates on donations, and you can learn more about how to donate by visiting their website Munhu Inc: Helping One Child at a Time

The Arts in New Zimbabwe

The following piece was published by the organization The Power of Culture on the website http://www.powerofculture.nl/uk/current/2007/august/bookcafe.html . I like the writer’s observation that the current situation in Zimbabwe is a source of inspiration for a lot of young writers. In fact, I see of wave of significant writings coming out of the Zimbabwean present, linking to the past, and anticipating the future.

Harare Book Café the hub of Zimbabwe’s cultural life

The terrible conditions in today’s Zimbabwe only feed the desire of young artists to express themselves, but this is becoming more and more difficult for them. The Book Café is an initiative by the Pemberi Trust, which plays a central role in the cultural life of the capital, Harare. “The situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated alarmingly and terribly within a few weeks,” says the trust’s Artistic Director, Paul Brickhill, one of the driving forces behind the success of the café. “Our general manager has been threatened with arrest. There are long power cuts every day. Food and water are in increasingly short supply. This weekend we will go hunting and gathering for food supplies for Book Café kitchens.”

The repression in Zimbabwe is encouraging artistic quests. The younger generation, in particular, is exploring its identity, heritage and the possibility of making statements through artistic expressions with a political edge. Many young people are active in the theatre and music, but poetry is especially popular. Humour and satire are widely used stylistic devices. In addition to a strong urge to innovate, we are witnessing a revival of more traditional forms: in music, Afro jazz and fusion are flourishing, and the mbira, a kind of thumb piano, is again being played by many young people. The revival is particularly remarkable because a lot of talented musicians have left the country. Four million of Zimbabwe’s 14 million people have fled in the past seven years. Many others have died of Aids. The cultural climate here is now being shaped mainly by the young.”

The Book Café has existed in its current form for the past ten years. It is a place where cultural entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with expansion. There are at least 500 performances a year, plus facilities to support artists. “We work a lot through partnerships,” says Brickhill. “And we have a fierce marketing policy. Performers are paid out of their box-office receipts, whilst salaries, rent and overheads are financed from sales of food and drink. Activities like workshops and readings are paid for through fundraising, which provides a fifth of our budget. Because we have been doing this for so long, we have managed to strike a good balance between presenting art honestly and operating as a business. But it’s a daily struggle to keep going.”

Jos Schuring

Capture Ideas Before they Escape

Anyone who cares about the preservation of ideas should capture them before they escpape. It’s like the way people are supposed to remember their dreams, that is, how they have to record them in order to revisit them later. But how many people really enjoy recording dreams? The experience of remembering one or two good, or bad dreams, forces us to records them in the journal of our memory. But ideas are different. Writers of many documents rely on ideas; we are often rated based on the originality of our, although this might be considered oxymoronic by some. If there is no systematic recording of some of the most important ideas that come to you, chances are you might end up in the pile of bandwagonish ideas, so we end up sounding all alike, like our ways of idea-production come from the same template.

Welcome, everbody to my new blog. Here I am going to be a bit playful; I want people to join in the discussions that will occur here. I am going to look for interesting topics on the web and elsewhere. Some topics I will take seriously, like the one that I read in Time magazine today about, let’s see, about how OCD is a sign of madness, something of that nature, or how every brain is just a few inches away from madness. The writer went on to argue that doubt yourself if you are in the habit of checking if your doors are locked – checking them two to three times, just to make sure. Oh, they were talking about depression, some deadly condition that can be diagnosed clinically and is treatable (was this the problem?). They were saying there are new improvements in the phychiatry field of utilizing some genetic study to find ways of easing the treament of the condition. Some serious breakthrough, and so on…

Sometimes I just prefer browsing Physchology today which offers indepth coverage of topics like who talks too much, men or women. In a recent issue I think they were say it’s fifty-fifty, or that women use 500 more words, which they discounted because it’s such an insignificant difference. As far as they are concerned, it’s blah blah blah all the way, whether you are woman or a man. You see, such coverage, such depth, such rigor (same thing), that’s what I get out of a specialized magazine. Time is still okay.

But seriously, good writing comes from the careful recording of all ideas, so that when writing time comes, then you know you will choose the best of the best. Ideas, grow ideas like vegetables, tend to them, let them become leafy, rich, collard-greenish.