Saturday, July 27, 2013

Zimbabwe Writers Association (ZWA) mourn Chiwoniso Maraire

The Zimbabwe Writers Association (ZWA) board, the entire membership and all our friends and colleagues in the writing fraternity of Zimbabwe and abroad are deeply saddened by the sad loss of Chiwoniso Maraire; singer, songwriter, and exponent of Zimbabwean mbira music. We pass our condolences to her family, the arts fraternity and fans. In our view, Chiwoniso was a fellow storyteller and intellectual who demonstrated rare talent, vision and wit. We shall miss her friendship and her rare ability to promote enduring Zimbabwean cultural traditions through her music. People like Chiwoniso do not die!
Tinashe Muchuri
Secreatary General, Zimbabwe Writers Association, 27 July 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

ZIBF Harare - 2013 calender REVISED

Dear All
On behalf of the ZIBF Executive Board, I would like to advise our valued key stakeholders, funding partners, writers, publishers, booksellers, librarians, prospective presenters, exhibitors, educationists, scholars and members of the general public that our calendar of activities has been revised in order to make way for the Zimbabwe national plebiscite scheduled for 31 July 2013.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to all concerned.
Nevertheless, ZIBF intends to run on the same Theme as previously advised, namely, “ZIBF@30: Enabling Creativity, Writing, Publishing and Reading for Africa’s Growth”.  Most crucially, we remain committed to our enduring objectives and to ensure that the events continue to celebrate our thirty years of providing a truly Zimbabwean and African Book Fair with the same revamped programmes and activities as promised. 

The following is a schedule of the new dates for our outstanding activities:
ZIBF 2013 BOOK FAIR DATES: 30 September – 5 October

 Indaba 2013 Dates                 30 September – 1 October

Young Person’s Indaba         2 October

Setting-up Day                       1 October - 1430 hours to 1630 hours

Traders’ Day                           2 October

Exhibitions                             3 - 5 October

Writers’ Workshop                5 October      

 MUTARE BOOK FAIR DATES: 18 – 19 October        

Setting-up Day                       17 October - 1430 hours to 1630 hours

Exhibitions                             18 – 19 October

Writers’ Workshop                18 October

 More information regarding these events will be made available to the public from hereon. We look forward to your continued support.

 Kind regards

Mr Musaemura Zimunya

Chair, Executive Board, ZIBF

ZIBF 2013 Theme:         "ZIBF@30"

Indaba 2013 Dates:       30 September – 1 October

Book Fair Dates:           2 October  – 5 October

Setting-up Day:             1 October 1430 hours to 1630hours

Bulawayo Book Fair      22 March - 23 March

Masvingo book Fair       31 May - 1 June

Mutare Book Fair           18 October -  19 October

Telephone: +263 4 702104, 702108, 705729,  707352

Tel/Fax: +263 4 702129




Monday, July 15, 2013

Making writing make money in Zim: Stephen Chifunyise

Full time career in writing is an aspiration shared by many Zimbabwean writers. Except for a few  whose works become prescribed textbooks, most writers in Zimbabwe have  been disappointed by the  unprofitability of their writing. Fiction writers who choose self- publishing have found it even harder to generate income from sales of their books. Those  who distribute their books through bookshops have been as disappointed as those who published through reputable  local or foreign book publishers when they have to accept the reasons  given for not receiving any royalties from the sale of their books. This reality has forced some writers to remain in the writing -as- a -hobby frame of mind which is in itself a major stumbling block to creative writing. It is therefore necessary to look for ways of ensuring that talented writers make their writing careers viable. The following are some of the ways  worth considering.
First, all published writers, especial fiction writers, must turn themselves into mobile bookshops for their own books. This entails negotiating with publishers  for an arrangement where the writers  are issued with copies of their books at the authors  discount  and  in which  they proceed to sell their books and get the type of commission booksellers would  have required. Alternatively, the author buys his or her books at authors discount  and proceeds to  sell the books  with a  mark up which  book sellers would have allowed. This arrangement ensures that the writer uses  all occasions to sell his or her books. This is an approach of taking books to the people. I have personally sold many of my own books and of fellow writers at international cultural events at home and abroad.
Second, during the Zimbabwe International Book Fair and other book fairs such as in Bulawayo and Mutare  and industry and trade fairs and agricultural shows,  writers could mount exhibition  stands   and sell  their books. The experience of the Writers Collective  which in the  last  two  years has mounted a stand  at the  Zimbabwe  International  Book Fair   to exhibit and sell  books mainly by  self-published writers  has been good.  The presence of authors  at the stand who autograph  copies bought  is a major marketing tool. Some writers had to take people looking for their books to their publishers stands.
Third, writers must take advantage of the multiplicity of newspapers and magazines  in the country- a phenomenon that has been followed by the birth of two commercial radio channels,  to  write for these publications and  radio channel. Writers must take up the challenge to become columnist or regular correspondents. They must approach editors of the newspapers and magazine to indicate subjects they would like to write about as well as research they would like to undertake in order to produce features that could be considered for publication. Radio and the television channels need to be approached by writers who indicate what they can  write  for them  especially drama.
Fourth, a number of theatre groups are beginning to look for scripts which they can present to corporations, development organisations and agencies for  promotional  and developmental campaigns. Writers with interest in scripting drama for radio, stage and television should seek partnership or collaborations with theatre groups so as to secure writing assignment. Writers should also approach actors whom they have see in   stage and television productions and offer to write plays which they can present to producers for commercial theatre. Writers could also approach theatre producers with their scripts  and indicate  the actors they had in mind  when writing the plays.. Writers of such plays are paid once off fee and a percentage of gate -takings whenever  their  plays are performed. There is strong feeling that  among actors, directors and producers  in Zimbabwean theatre that the shortage of scripts is one of the major challenges being faced.
Fifth, writers should approach corporations, development organisations, governments departments  and institutions with offers to write articles, dramas or documentaries  about them, their campaigns and  concerns. The area of environment and sustainable development  is  as potent for engagement of writers as areas and issues to do with health issues. Coming up with scripts for plays about International days that are celebrated in Zimbabwe is one strategy  that   writers  should consider. The writers would be expected to go  international organisations concerned  with the commemoration of such days. Writers could give theatre groups their scripts so that the theatre groups themselves would approach agencies and organizations concerned with the celebrations of the international days.
Sixth, the recent developments  in  the production of  computer generated animations has  brought about the need for collaborations between writers and film makers( animators) Writers with good stories for animation are essential and being sought after. Writers associations can help bring about this collaboration by inviting film makers especially those   involved in production of animations to dialogue and establish the requisite collaboration..
Lastly, many visitors to the Writers Collective stand  at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair, this year asked for children’s story books  in indigenous languages. One pre-school owner indicated that writers of such books would be expected  to visit pre-school centers with their books  as well as finding out  what children’s books such centres require..
I sincerely hope that these ideas are worth considering.    
+ Paper presented at the Zimbabwe Writers Association (ZWA) meeting: Harare, September 1, 2012

Monday, July 8, 2013

I have been mistaken for Achebe: Ngugi

(Ngugi wa Thiongo, with Noviolet Bulawayo, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Mukoma wa Ngugi, and Emmanuel Sigauke.)

I first met Chinua Achebe in 1961 at Makerere University in Kampala. His novel, Things Fall Apart, had come out, two years before. I was then a second year student, the author of just one story, Mugumo published in Penpoint, the literary magazine of the English Department. At my request, he looked at the story, and made some encouraging remarks. What I did not tell him was that I was in the middle of my first novel for a writing competition organized by the East African Literature Bureau; what would later be published as The River Between. 

My next encounter was more dramatic, for my part, at least, and would impact my life and literary career, profoundly. It was at the now famous 1962 conference of writers of English expression. Chinua Achebe was among a long line of other literary luminaries, that included Wole Soyinka, J P Clark, the late Eski’a Mphahlele, Lewis Nkosi and Bloke Modisane. The East African contingent consisted of Grace Ogot, Jonathan Kariara, John Nagenda and me. My invitation was on the strength of my short stories published in Penpoint and in Transition. The novel most discussed in the Conference as a model of literary restraint and excellence was Things Fall Apart.

But what most attracted me was not my being invited there as ‘writer’ but the fact that I would be able to show Achebe the ms of my second novel, what would later become Weep Not Child. It was very generous of him to agree to look at it because, as I would learn later, he was working on his novel, Arrow of God. Because of that and his involvement in the conference, he could not read the whole ms, but he read enough to give some useful suggestions.

More importantly, he talked about the manuscript to his publishers, William Heinemann, represented at the conference by June Milne, who expressed an interest in the work. Weep Not Child would later be published by William Heinemann and the paperback by Heinemann education publishers, the fourth in the now famous African Writers series, of which Achebe was the Editorial Adviser.

I was working with the Nation newspapers when Weep Not Child came out. It was April 1964, and Kenya was proud to have its first modern novel in English by a Kenyan African. Or so I thought, for the novel was well publicised in the Kenyan Newspapers, the Sunday Nation even carrying my interview by de Villiers, one of its senior feature writers. I assumed that every educated Kenyan would have heard about the novel. I was woken to reality when I entered a club, the most frequented by the new African elite at the time, who all greeted me as their Kenyan author of Things Fall Apart.
Years later at Achebe’s 70th birthday celebrations at Bard College attended by Toni Morrison and Wole Soyinka, among others, I told this story of how Achebe’s name had haunted my life. When Soyinka’s turn to speak came, he said that I had taken the story from his mouth: he had been similarly been mistaken for Chinua Achebe.

The fact is that Achebe became synonymous with the Heinemann African writers series and African writing as a whole.  There’s hardly any African writer of my generation who has not been mistaken for Chinua Achebe. I have had a few such encounters. Every African novel became Things Fall Apart, and every writer some sort of  Chinua Achebe.  Even a protestation to the contrary was not always successful.

The last such encounter was in 2010 at Jomo Kenyatta Airport. Mukoma, the author of Nairobi Heat, and I had been invited for the Kwani festival whose theme was inter-generational dialogue. Mukoma, my fourth son and I fitted the bill perfectly. As he and I walked towards the immigration, a man came towards me. His hands were literally trembling as he identified himself as a professor of Literature from Zambia. 

“Excuse me Mr Achebe, somebody pointed you out to me. I have long wanted to meet you”
“No, I am not the one,” I said, “but here is Mr Achebe,” I added pointing at my son.

I thought the obvious youth of my son would tell him that I was being facetious. But no, our Professor grabbed Mukoma’s hands, before Mukoma could protest, grateful that he had at last shaken hands with his hero. The case of mistaken identity as late as 2010 shows how Achebe had become a mythical figure, and rightly so.

He was the single most important figure in the development of modern African literature as writer, editor, and quite simply a human being. His novel, Things Fall Apart, the most widely read novel in the history of African literature, since its publication in 1958, became an inspiring model.  As the general editor of the Heinemann African Writers Series, he had a hand in the emergence of many other writers and their publication.  As a human being, he embodied wisdom that comes from a commitment to the middle way between extremes. And of course courage in the face of personal tragedy!

The last time I met him face to face was at his 70th birthday celebrations held at Bard College. With me was Njeeri, my wife, and our five year old son Thiongo and six year old daughter, Mumbi.  When I introduced James Currey, and mentioned that he had been Achebe’s publisher, Thiongo decided to write his own novel on the spot. On a piece of paper, he made many marks, folded the piece, and handed the one page manuscript to James Currey. James politely accepted it.  Within the next one hour Thiongo wrote several other one page novels and began rushing them to the publisher. James Currey resorted to avoiding his new writer for the rest of the party. Mumbi reacted differently, drawing a portrait of Chinua Achebe, and gave it to him when my wife took them to be photographed with Uncle Chinua. Mumbi, now a second year college student, recalled that encounter and the line drawing, when I told her about Achebe’s passing on.

Achebe bestrides generations and geographies.  Every country in the continent claims him as their author. Some sayings in his novels are quoted frequently as proverbs that contain a universal wisdom. When my book, Dreams in a Time of War, was launched in Nairobi a year or so ago, the guest speaker PO Lumumba interspersed his speech with proverbs. They were all taken from Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. His passing marks the beginning of the end of an epoch.  But his spirit lives on to continue inspiring yet more African writers and scholars of African literature the world over. 
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
+ Taken from: thiongo.php