Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Writivism 2014 Creative Writing Workshops

picture: Monica Cheru
The Writivism 2014 workshops will be held on the 8th of February 2014, simultaneously in five different African cities. The one-day workshops are planned for Abuja, Harare, Kampala, Nairobi and Cape Town. Applicants will attend workshops in the cities closest to their residence.

The Abuja workshop will be facilitated by Ukamaka Olisakwe, Kampala; Beatrice Lamwaka, Cape Town; Rachel Zadok, Nairobi; Okwiri Oduor and Harare; Monica Cheru alongside other writers. 

The workshops will include a short master class on fiction writing, a reading and writing exercise. Each participant shall be assigned a mentor at the end of the workshop, with whom they shall work on a flash fiction story to be published in newspapers and a short story for submission to the Writivism African Short Story Prize.
The workshop aims at identifying emerging African writers. 
Application Guidelines

·         Applicants must be resident on the African continent;

·         Applicants must not have published a book before; 

·         All application material must be put in the body of the email; no attachments whatsoever; 

             ·         Deadline for submission is 31st December 2014 midnight, East African time;

·         Applications must be made to;

·         Those accepted to the workshop will be notified by 20th January 2014;

·         The workshop is non-residential and participants are responsible for the transport to and from the venue; 

·         Application Email subject should read ‘Writivism 2014 Application’;

·         Include Address (including phone contact), Country of Residence, Full Legal Name, Gender, a 100-word maximum bio and a 400-700 word writing sample in the application; 

·         Participants in past Writivism workshops can apply if they have since not published a book; 

·         The writing sample must be fiction. 
Keep checking and the Writivism Facebook Group for more updates.
Contact Monica on 0773 025 623  -

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

from Emmanuel Sigauke... with love

By the time Brutus stabbed me, Mukoma had already left to fight with the Mhere boys. Earlier in the morning, at home, he had told me that he just wanted to hear my English, and to see if I had the right gestures for it, adding that he was not interested in the prize-winning ceremony that would follow the big performance, nor did he care about meeting my teachers to discuss my progress. I don’t think when he left I had finished dying because even before Mark Anthony arrived on the scene, half the audience had left the play and had gone to watch Mukoma’s fight. At first, I had no idea what was happening, until Miss Mukaro, the teacher who had directed the performance, signaled Mark Anthony, acted by Chari, to stop talking, walked to where I lay dead and whispered, “Caesar, your big brother.” I sprung up and looked where Mukoma had been standing and saw that he was gone…

**** so goes the first paragraph of my favourite story in Emmanuel Sigauke’s forthcoming collection of short stories. Right from the first line, you get hooked and the story races with you in its jaws. I like the concept of ‘a fight inside the insides of the fight’ used in that story. Emmanuel Sigauke may not admit now, but when it finally comes out, this collection of short stories tentatively called ‘Mukoma stories’ is going to be his major project to date. He has been at this script for years now and I think he is close to releasing it…. The stories revolve around a teenage boy and the escapades of his roguish elder brother (mukoma). The boy has had to become a thinker and not a boy, in order to survive because mukoma is as unpredictable as his mortar mouth. These pieces come very close to the skin, akin to the short stories of Marechera, Chinodya and Naipaul. Manu, let go! You have an extremely exciting script. (Kwachirere, 14 August 2010)

Thank you VaChirere for these encouraging words. I am now sitting back, since the manuscript is now in the hands of an editor. Hopefully they will like it. But you are right, I care so much about these stories...and it was almost hard to let go...

2.                 NoViolet Mkha BulawayoAugust 19, 2010 at 9:11 PM
I couldn't agree more with Chirere. I've seen bits and pieces of the project here and there, and I await with a restless hunger. That narrator... so alive and raw and stunning in his naivety and sometimes hard circumstances, and the writer's voice just on the right note and effortless. Either way you are drawn in, and I know we are in trouble when the project drops.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ignatius Mabasa's 'dog inside a dog inside the insides of a dog!'

IMBWA YEMUNHU, By Ignatius Mabasa
Published by Bhabhu Books, Harare, 2013
To buy: +263772278171
first reviewed in the Shona  by Tinashe Muchuri
and the review was translated into English by Memory Chirere

In Shona traditions, you do not strike the rival once and just expect him to fall and die. Ignatius Mabasa has returned with yet his third blow in the form of beautiful tapestry of ideas. Those in search of a good story will benefit.

You do not rush to punish the child for the first or second offence but on the third, there is bound to be trouble. If you missed Mapenzi, Mabasa’s first novel or Ndafa Here, his second, you will surely not miss his third offering, Imbwa Yemunhu. This one is the ultimate Ignatius Mabasa sermon.

In Imbwa Yemunhu you come across Musavhaya or Musa in brief.  Usually Musa becomes jelly kneed when he comes across beer and beautiful women. This time he even wants to grab someone’s wife. She is called Juli. Juli’s husband is an ordinary lay about and petty trader called Richard who is not fazed by his noncommittal ways. Richard seems ready to allow his marriage to collapse. Imbwa Yemunhu revolves around Musa and Juli, occasionally touching the extended family and those characters from the various entertainment joints.

Imbwa Yemunhu, is a novel that demonstrates Mabasa’s unparalleled ability to reveal the ordinary people’s daily struggles. Musa is pressed by his own mother and elder brother to marry Hazvi when he has no any feelings for the girl. He plays up in order to silence his community which expects him to get married. Ironically, Richard does the same by marrying Juli just for the sake of it. This shows how people get into relationships in order to meet societal expectations.

The resultant regret forms the bedrock to Mabasa latest offering.

But what comes out of regret? Juli wishes she had a man like Musa instead of Richard. But she is stuck with Richard! Hazvi wishes she had not had the misfortune of knowing her father. Richard wishes he had not fallen into this marriage with Juli because it is an apparent trap. One key politician’s wife wishes her husband had employed white aides instead of black ones because then, she could have been saved from meeting Musa who has brought hell into her life. The late musician, Simon Chimbetu (who is a character in this novel), wishes he had preached about God during his sojourn on earth. Musa’s brother, Hamu wishes he had not pushed Musa into marrying Hazvi because that could have saved him the embarrassment that comes from the arranged union.

Why are all these people full of regret?

Imbwa Yemunhu is the story about failure to come face to face with the results of one’s choices. Musa is unable to quit the bottle. If you ask him if he was forced into beer in the first place, his answer is no. In fact, the first time he tasted beer, he even found it bitter and unpalatable. But he kept on trying until he became addicted. Self inflicted troubles! Here you also read about fake love. There are also the silent and undeclared divorces between partners. There is utter dog behaviour, sadness, drunkenness, prostitution and that hunger for happiness.

Mabasa does well in coming up with a story that delves into the human thought tracks. You are able to travel with Musa to places that you have been, once upon a time. There are also places and situations that you have come across in your private life. You mourn alongside Musa because his troubles are similar to yours. You are persuaded to spare a thought for girls who go into forced marriages with men they do not love. You feel for girls who are raped by their own parents or relatives. You find sympathy for women who throw themselves at men who they do not love just for the sake of getting married.

Imbwa Yemunhu exposes how family members behave when there is a rapist in their midst. Hazvi’s father rapes Hazvi’s mother. Hazvi’s mother is  threatened with death and in the end Hazvi faces the same fate and nobody in the community lifts even a finger!

At the centre of this thrilling novel is Musa’s journey in pursuit of salvation. Through Musa’s journey, you note that this novel is not your ordinary roadside sermon where an overzealous preacher pesters you into joining their particular church and not this or that church.

We are all sojourners, fighting against numerous physical and spiritual forces. For whom is it well? That is Ignatius Mabasa's fundamental question. Maybe that is why the character Old Bob cries each time he listens to the classical Rhumba track, Shauri Yako.

As soon as you pick Imbwa Yemunhu, you come face to face with the image of a sad dog on the cover. Looking closely, you notice that this is a dog with a human face! It may mean that; when a man looks after a dog in the home, the dog begins to resemble the master or the master the dog! That is in tandem with the funny dream Musa has in which he is sitting amongst countless dogs of all species in a bar at Chikwanha shopping centre. And, when he embarks on a kombi; there are only dogs of all varieties in there playing all sorts of dog games and he chants‘Humbwa nehumbwa pamusoro pehumbwa.’ (A dog inside a dog inside a dog!)

The use of dream and madness allows Mabasa a lot of creative entrance into what could be considered taboo territories. Nobody can prohibit other people from dreaming. This is what carries Musa ahead and offers him opportunity to experience what hell is like. Only in the dream does Musa hold hands romantically with the prominent politician’s wife! There are no bounds in dreams.
+ Tinashe Muchuri is a Zimbabwean author, journalist and storyteller.