Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Invitation to a Writers’ meeting, 3 December 2011, Harare.

Below, some Zimbabwean writers at the last meeting in August

and another

The Zimbabwe Writers Association (ZWA) cordially invites you to the first of its monthly meetings on Saturday 3 December 2011 at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 20 Julius Nyerere Way, Harare from 2:00pm to 4:30pm in the library extension (upstairs) for the purposes of discussion and readings. You are also reminded to bring your $10 membership fees. A substantive agenda will be sent to you very soon. Remember: the major objective of ZWA is to bring together all willing individual writers and writer organisations of Zimbabwe in order to encourage creative writing, reading and publishing in all forms possible, conduct workshops, and provide for literary discussions.
-inserted by ZWA committee-

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tudikidiki By Memory Chirere

Below are some  recent articles/reviews on Tudikidiki:

1.It would be very easy to read many meanings (probably all of them my own!) into Memory Chirere’s short - short stories (some of which are really vignettes) and I suppose the writer could be laughing down his throat at the mental gymnastics of even the most well meaning readers as they try to ‘interpret’ these ‘little things’.

As I read them I am at times persuaded not to try to find any meaning in some of them but to simply read, read, and enjoy – or be frustrated.

Both enjoyment and frustration arise out of the realization that Chirere’s characters (and maybe the reader as well?) are involved in a very serious mind life games. A mixture of a kind of madness, a passion for unreason and a stumbling in the darkness of sheer ignorance but with always a hope (groundless?) of a light at the end of the grotto. A kind of natural intelligence which is also mixed with unadulterated innocence?

Take the story ‘Mwana’ – what is the writer trying to say? Is it about how we wish for something dearly, then our wishes become obstacles and at the end we have to run, with nothing, into worse situations?

The story ‘Amai nababa’ shows the innocent wishes of a child who is dying to see her parents together, in love, (and herself included in this love?) and she achieves this in her own way but behind it all you are worried about the presence of other forces that have nothing to do with the three characters.

‘Roja rababa vaBiggie’ – could this be vintage Chirere? This ‘roja’ looks the acme of decency and diligence in the local community. He seems to be an assert to his landlord, (or his owner?) baba vaBiggie. People envy baba vaBiggie for having such a quiet and hardworking lodger.

How wrong can we be! The man, this ‘roja’ is cooking up something. Baba vaBiggie owes the ‘roja’ and now the roja wants his money back. To get his money back, he climbs up to the top of the tower light and tells the world that it is his money or he is going to throw himself down to his death. The man performs monkey dances on the tower light. He shouts and he has got everyone’s attention. He is in charge today. He is in full control and the people are looking up there, in awe, enthralled, in fear, as if he were – God? And he seems to love it. He is reveling in it. (I have a feeling that he has never felt such strength, such power, in him before and he wishes it could go on forever, this moment of total control).

When he finally agrees to come down, after baba vaBiggie has paid, to a trusted third part, one feels the tragic moment, the fall of a God.

‘Chichena chirefu chinonhuwira’, ‘Pikicha’ and ‘Pamuroro wemwana’ again have ‘something’ which is haunting. People create situations over things they don’t understand, and the end result? Panic. Chaos. Very small things which could have been resolved quietly or peacefully become big issues that lead to the cracking up of personalities and the breaking up of communities and institutions. People become victims of their own actions.

We have the painful heartbreak in ‘Ariko’. A broken, unconsummated relationship, the unsaid deep pain of parting, the imagery cuts to the quick.

‘Mumwewo munhu wausingazive’ has a very strange nostalgic effect on the reader, especially this one. How can you not suffer if you live, daily, with the uneasy, unresolved thought that somewhere out there among the denizens of the world there is someone who has a heartful load of love for you, someone ready to die for you? (It is rather a mischievous short story, designed to play havoc with the reader’s emotions!)

‘Ndikakuregedza handizokuoni’ verges on the – magical? Too good to be true. Our own emotions, intentions, dreams – our individual lives – align with God’s designs and we feel responsible for the salvation or destruction of whole nations. This story, as in many others, seems to reveal some dark mystic? – definitely spiritual-religious compartments in this writer’s psyche!

All in all, Memory Chirere’s Tudikidiki is an enjoyable collection. I sense a new direction in the Shona short story, releasing it from the usual hidebound traditional oral rungano, to throw it in line with its written counterpart in the other, international languages, but the flavour is strictly here, now, homegrown and home brewed. Even though a few of these stories left me feeling that they verge on the obscure, I still have a nagging feeling that maybe it is my own lack of access to the writer’s artistic lexicon. Whatever the case is, these stories don’t fail to tickle your rib, if not riddle your mind. These are serious adult stories (despite appearances to the contrary) written with a poet’s sensibilities.
(By Charles Mungoshi, The Sunday mail, December, 2007)

2.Memory Chirere’s second book called Tudikidiki is a good Christmas and New Year’s present for all the connoisseurs of Zimbabwean literature. Reason: save for the multiauthored collections by Zimbabwean Women Writers, the short story in the Shona language is almost non-existent.

The space is heavily dominated by the poem and novel and yet the short story in English is on a massive rise in Zimbabwe.

Tudikidiki is heavily influenced by Chirere’s first book, a collection of short stories in English called Somewhere In This Country. Here as in the first book, these stories are flittingly short. Reading, you remember Flannery O’Connor: ‘A short story should be long in depth and should give us an experience of meaning’.
Coupled with very high entertainment value, the whole booklet can be read on a bus trip from Mbare to Murambinda! Each story stands out clearly and the experience is akin to toying with one crisp biscuit after another, after another, in one’s watery mouth!

Some of these stories are teeming with both serious and petty fraudsters. The lesson is: Do not be too engrossed only in the big struggles of survival. Turn your head over your shoulder to check what the next man or woman is doing. You are being invited to pay close attention to the little matters of life -Tudikidiki - and to laugh at yourself, if you can.

Mandiziva, a character in the story by the same title, is a township old man who walks up to any home and plays at being a no nonsense long lost old relative from the rural areas. As a result he is entertained like a king. When the neighborhood wakes up to the truth, Mandiziva is long gone, well fed and comfortable.

‘Mamboonawo Mhuri Yangu here?’ is an Aesopean tale about looking for someone who could be looking for you! And when you get to where he was, he is where you were, and because you put so much faith in speed and accuracy, you might never meet with the person you so much want to meet!

In ‘Roja Rababa vaBiggie’ a township lodger teaches the whole community a lesson that they will never forget. More stinging blows come in Pempani Pempani, Pikicha, Pasi Pengoma and many more. The laughter generated by these stories is corrective. The journey of life is portrayed as both awkward and funny and the man or woman who listens carefully to her soul, wins. Chirere’s wit is honey coupled up with grit and the conversations are dreamlike and childlike.

As Ignatius Mabasa warns in the introduction to this book, these stories are not for children, but are about children. So they can even be read by both adults and young adults. Yet you come away feeling that the word ‘children’ is more complex than meets the eye. The struggles in life bring out the most basic instincts, making us all children.

Memory Chirere is at his best with stories with subterranean meanings and you might be caught reading and rereading these stories for their various levels of meaning and wit. I have come across this in the few stories of Langston Hughes.
(Reviewed by Jairos kangira, The Herald, 10 January 2008)

3.Chenjerai Hove recently read Memory Chirere's short story collection "Tudikidiki". He made the following observation, shared in an email to both Chirere and me. Hove has stated repeatedly that the current state of writing by new writers in Zimbabwe makes him proud, especially considering that he has been a mentor to most of these contemporary writers. Chirere, for instance, was in the class Hove taught during his days as the writer-in-residence at the University of Zimbabwe.Other writers like Ruzvidzo Mupfudza, Ignatius Mabasa, Cleopas Gwakwara, Nhamo Mhiripiri and wife, Thabisani Ndlovu, Eresina Wede, Zvisdinei Sandi and others were part of this group. I too had the priviledge of learning from the master in those days, and every now and then we spend time on the phone discussing literature and our common homeland, Mazvihwa, a place rich in history and memories. Hove is currently based in Miami, Florida.

Below are some of his comments on Memory Chirere's "Tudikidiki", reproduced here with his permission:

Chirere's talent is his capacity to capture character and landscape in most apt way, with a phrase or a simple comparison. He is one of the most observant writers ever to emerge in our cruel, beloved homeland. When he compares something like 'semugoti wepanhamo', the images are vivid and he is able to interconnect them into building a strong character in such a short space of language and time. Poetic juxtapositions like, 'chawaitanga kuona pana pembani idzoro rake rainge nhanga, wozoona marengenya' are just breath-taking in creating a compendium of physical looks and the poverty that went with the character of Pempani. If you also look at Pempani's bio brief, it is wonderfully done as the way in which rumours often paint a complex character is used to show the Pempani's complexity as a person and as a piece of social upheaavals. Then the narrator says in his own assessment of Pempani, 'Ini ndaingoti zvese zvaiita,' without validating or refuting any of the pieces of speculative portrayals.

Chirere has this subtle sense of detail, a poetic quality which makes his writing uniquely his. For example, if you look at how he portrays the manner in which music inflitrates the human consciousness, in 'Kamwe karwizi', you will be amazed that I think it is the best Shona description I have come across of how the body and soul of humans absorb and are consumed by music. It is not the same as simply saying 'I enjoyed the music.' Chirere is able to trace the whole flow of music into the human body, and trance-like, shape how individuals are given visions by a single piece of music.

With the contemporary Zimbabwean writers "at it like this", Hove believes that "we will soon see another literary boom more exciting than the 1980s and early 90s."

Memory Chirere has told me that he is working on a translation of Tudikidiki, but has admitted that it is not an easy task as translating some of the Shona nuances is challenging. Having enjoyed the Shona version, as well as the Chirere's English collection, "Somewhere in this Country", I look forward to the translation.
(Article from Emmanuel Sigauke's

4. Tudikidiki Chii? By Tinashe Muchuri
Mukuona bhuku raMemory Chirere rinonzi Tudikidiki zvakandipa mubvunzo wekuti tudikidiki chii? Zvakare izvi zvakandipa have yokuda kuziva chacho chinonzi tudikidiki.Mushure mekunge ndazoverenga bhuku iri, ndakazoona kuti tudikidiki twuri mubhuku iri twuri pakawanda. Chokutanga ndechekuti Tudikidiki ibhuku retunyaya tudiki. Chechipiri ndechekuti tunyaya turikutaurwa nevana vadiki. Chetatu ndechekuti tunyaya turi kutaura nezvezvinhu zvatisingawaniri nguva yokunyatsotarisa mazuva ose. Zvinhu zviya zvatinoti kana tikazviona hatina hanya nazvo asi izvo zviri izvo zvinoumba zvatiri. Izvo zvidikidiki izvozvi ndizvo zvine hanya nevana vari kutaura nyaya mubhuku raChirere, Tudikidiki.Zvinhu zvatinoti savakuru hazvina basa ndizvo zvinebasa kuvana varikutaura nezvazvo ava.

Ingava nyaya here kuti munhu anyore nezvemwana ari kuba zvake nyama mumba mavabereki vake? Asi ukaverenga kanyaya kanonzi 'Mwana' kanova ndiko kanoparura bhuku iri unozoona kuti haisi nyaya yokutamba. Unotanga uchiita kunge nyaya yekuita zvakaipa yakanaka pedzezvo heyo newe mumoto pedzesere watotiza pamusha uchipinda musango kuita ngarara.Wadaro unozoita hwemwana akati, "Akati panze svaku, ndokutizira muchisango. Kutiza, kuita kunge asina kumbenge aedza kugocha nyama masikati pamba pasina vanhu!"

Ndiyanizve angafungawo kuti Pembani munyaya inonzi Pembani Pembani, aivawo mwana akangoita sevamwe vana zvakare aidawo kuwana mukana wekudzidza, kudya kwakanaka nezvipfeko zvakanaka? Ndiyani anogona kugara pasi nemwana kana achitanga kuratidza kuti ane chipo chehudavadi? Musi wakanzi vana vemukirasi yaPembani Pembani vatare mifananidzo, mudzidzisi haana kufara nomufananidzo wakatarwa naPembani zvakaita kuti amurove achiona sekuti irema. Asi paakarohwarohwa pabendekete naMiss Zuva, Pembani akanyemwerera. Kanhu kadiki ikaka kanogona kuparadza chipo chaPembani chehudavadi. Izvozvi ndizvo zvinoita kuti vanhu vasabudirira vozopedzesera voita zvinhu zvavasingati kuita nemwoyo yavo. Zviya zvokuti unoona munhu achiita basa iro asingafariri.

Ko iyo nyaya yamudhara Mandiziva avo vaipota vachikwata zvokudya nekanzira kavo kekusvika pamba pavanhu vachivabvunza kuti, 'Mandiziva?' Kanyaya kekuti unogona kufunga kuti hapana zvenyaya asi pekupedzesera wozoona kuti itori nyaya hombe. Musha wose unogona kurasiswa nemunhu anongosvikoti, 'Mandiziva?' Zvingada here kuti chokwadi vanhu mungobikira munhu nokuti akubvunzai kuti, 'Mandiziva?' zvokutosvika pakumuurayira huku? Hunyanzvi hwaChirere huri pakugona kusiya munhu achiri kuda kuona kuti chiiko chakazoitika pamberi? Mandiziva, chirahwe chacho chinotozodudzirwa nemwana anoona mudhara Mandiziva dzichiita chidobi chadzo chekudya zvavanhu nokubvunza kuti, 'Mandiziva?' Unobva watanga kufunga vanhu vanoita basa rokukumbira mari yokufambisa muguta, vachiti vanoda kuti vawane kubuda muguta vachienda kurukisheni kwavanogara. Sekuita kweruzhinji runorarama nokunyepa unogona kukumbirwazve mari nemunhu mumwechete iyeye achida kuishandisa kuenda kwaambokuudza kuti ari kuda kuenda. MApaonaka, ziso remunyori uyu rine chipo chekugona kumirira vana vachiita zvose zvinonzi hazvina maturo.

Chirere ano hunyanzvi hwekunyora nyaya diki zvokuti bhuku rakaita saTudikidiki rive rimwe remabhuku ari mururimi rweChishona ari kuvavarira kubatana nemanyorerwe ari kuitwa nyaya pfupi mune dzimwe ndimi dzinenge Chirungu. Manyorere aChirere anoratidza munhu anoverenga zvikuru uye munhu anoongorora manyorero arikuitwa nyaya navamwe vanyori vedzimwe ndimi. Tudikidiki raifanira kudai riri rimwe remabhuku anodzidzwa muzvikoro nokuti rinopa vana vechikoro mukana wekutapirirwa nemanyorero pamwe chete nokudzidza kuti chii chinonzi nyaya pfupi?Nyaya pfupi dzinonyorwa sei? Zvii zvinodiwa nemunyori kuti azonzi munyori?

Tudikidiki harisiri bhuku rokuti unogotarira woti regai rakadaro. Butiro racho ndiro rimwe rinotanga kukukokwezva mwoyo apo unoona nhanga, majombo pamwe neboniboni akanzi apo mwa-a. Munhu akasarudza mufanikiso wapabutiro anoratidza zvakare kuti ane ziso roudavadi nokuti tunhu turi pamufanikiso uyu tudikidiki asi nditwo tunoita kuti tionekwe hunhu hwedu, tsika dzedu pamwe namagariro edu. Hunyanzvi hwakadai hunofanira kuremekedzwa pamwe nekupembedzwa.

Dzimwe nyaya dziri mubhuku iri dzinokuita kuti uti inga munyori uyu akapindana nedzandakambopindana nadzo wani! Kanyaya kakaita sa'Ndikakurega Handizokuoni', kanokuita kuti uone kukosha kwerudo runonzi rudo. Mumukore uno wekuti kuti uwane musikana unofanira kuva nemari, motokari, imba, nezvimwe zvakadaro, ko vasina zvose izvi vanozopona nei? Kakomana kekushaya kanogona chete kuponesa musikana musi wenjodzi ndiko kanozonzi, handikusiyi. Vangani vakambosanga nenyaya yakadai?
Chinhu chidiki chiripabhuku chisina kuita zvakanaka chiripakubatanidzwa kwaro uko kusina kunyanya kusimba nokuti kunoita kuti rikasire kusakara. Rinoda kubatwa zvakanaka. Pamwe ndongoti zvangu nokuti zvakanaka zvinofanirwa kubatwa zvakanaka ndiko saka rakadarwo. Kubvira musi wandatanga kuverenga bhuku iri ndinongoona zvitsva. Nyaya yekuti tunyaya utwu twurikutaura nezvezvinhu zvidikidiki ndakatoiona mwedzi wapera apo ndaiverenga tunyaya utwu zvakare.
+ article first appeared on:

Tudikidiki,Winner of Zimbabwe's National Arts Merit Award: Literature section 2009,
published by Priority Projects Publishing,Harare.
Orders can be made through Sam Mutetwa:
( +2634775968

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The real role of war veterans in Zimbabwe’s land occupations

Title: ‘War Veterans in Zimbabwe’s Land Occupations: Complexities of a Liberation Movement In an African Post Colonial Settler Society’
Author: Wilbert Zvakanyorwa Sadomba
Publisher:Wageningen Universiteit, Vita, 2008.
Isbn: 9789085049173
218 pages
Reviewer: Memory Chirere

At the core of this well researched and footnoted narrative is the argument that the veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970’s war of independence were and are still the major drivers of the land movement in Zimbabwe and that History cut them a role from which they could not renege.

And the conclusion is: All the major forces in the Zimbabwean milieu in the past decade; the nationalists, President Mugabe and his functionaries, the white farmers and drivers of opposition politics have to contend with the war veterans and the land hungry of Zimbabwe or risk being swept aside. Therefore, this is a book about the history of the role of liberation war combatants in Zimbabwe much as it is about their driving role in the land reform principally between 1997 and 2000.

The question that drives this very detailed book is: Were the land occupations in Zimbabwe driven and sustained by land hunger dating back from colonialism or by the spoiling operations linked to the political survival tactics of ZANU PF, state functionaries of President Robert Mugabe?

This question, as seen from the works of various writers on land in Zimbabwe; Sam Moyo, T.O. Ranger, A. Davidson, Raftopolous, Feltore, Moore and others, creates a decisive watershed.

Working with real dates and statistical evidence, Sadomba shows that the phenomena of land occupations in Zimbabwe is as old as colonialism, admitting that the land issue changed form and intensity during the colonial period but it remained the central focus for the nationalist movement and later fuelled the guerrilla war itself.

Contrary to notions that land occupations and land reform have always been blest by and directed by ZANU PF, Sadomba argues that the issue of land had been put aside at independence because in 1980, there developed a silent alliance between black nationalists, the rising bourgeoisie and white settler farmers. This resulted in a rift within the liberation movement itself and the sidelined war veterans catapulted radical land reclamation from below, targeting the elite, settler farmers and the state itself.

He goes on to show evidence that when the veterans encouraged early land occupations in places like Goromonzi and Svosve around 1997/98 the ZANU PF government was not amused. Minister Msika and vice President Muzenda, respectively to tell the land hungry to vacate the white farms that they had occupied. In the end government had to unleash the security forces. In 1996 the war veterans even forced the government to designate 1 471 farms for compulsory acquisition by November 1997. This was heavily resisted by the white farmers through the courts. In 1997 the war veterans openly confronted President Mugabe himself, loudly demanding welfare benefits and a return to the liberation agenda.

Sadomba further argues that ZANU and President Mugabe only sided with the veterans when the referendum to decide on a new constitution got a ‘No’ vote in year 2000.Just after this result, war veterans occupied a white owned farm in Masvingo. They claimed that the referendum, an event in which the country’s white population had participated more actively that any other election since independence, was in essence an organised ‘No’ vote against the land clause included in the draft constitution.

The clause stated that the land for resettlement would be taken compulsorily and only land improvements would be compensated. Compensation would have to be paid by the British government as the power behind the colonial machinery that had originally appropriated land from the Africans of Zimbabwe.

This book shows how the veterans engineered the movement which attracted peasants, urban workers, professionals, farm workers, political activists, security forces and others. They are moments when war veterans were loaned from where they were highly concentrated like Guruve and Mount Drawin to help in areas of less concentration like Nyabira, Mazowe and Matepatepa. There are sections on various methods of occupying a farm, sections on how how white farmers variably reacted to the occupation of ‘their’ farms, sections on the role of chiefs and spirit mediums, sections on how information was relayed and the resultant changes in the farming systems as a result of occupations.

Going through this work, you feel that indeed there are no permanent friends but permanent interests. This book is a must for all those who wish to get detailed insights into the complexity of relations between and among major players in the land reform of Zimbabwe.

Wilfred Sadomba himself is a veteran of the liberation struggle and this work is an indictment to all veterans of the liberation war of Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa that it is important to document their experiences not only on the war but also the aftermaths.