Monday, December 19, 2011

Short Writings from Bulawayo II: A must have piece

The Herald, Monday, 19 December 2011 00:00
Title: Short Writings from Bulawayo Two
Author: Various
Publisher: 'amaBooks
Pages: 116
ISBN: 0-7974-2896-8

Aristotle said politics is the highest form of art because other goods and services borrow their life from people who bow to the force of whips that are cracked in Parliament. This year the main political parties in the country, Zanu-PF and MDC-T, brought many people to attend their meetings in Bulawayo.
Hotels should have used this opportunity to interest them in reading Short Writings from Bulawayo Two for the benefit of the whole hospitality industry in Zimbabwe. This collection of short stories and poems is about the life of people in the City of Kings and its surrounding rural areas. It deals with how people in high-density suburbs make ends meet in the face of economic hardships.
The guests staying in hotels can borrow books from the reception desk for reading in their rooms. Tourists enjoy reading books like this very much. An increase in sales of indigenous literature would have artists smiling all the way to the bank.
Its time hotels saw themselves as part and parcel of the culture of people. A family can go and watch a play at the theatre or it can go and sample an exotic dish at the local inn. Chefs know best that cooking is an art.
Eco-tourism binds art and culture and the hospitality industry together and books fasten that bond. It's natural for birds of the same feather to flock together for their mutual benefit. People of Bulawayo have a crush on Wim Boswinkel. He was born in Holland in 1947 and 'amaBooks published his first novel, Erina, in 2003. In his short story, 2084, he writes about a future that has no language and no alphabet. People express their feelings using their hands and faces.
The artist sees this weird world through the eyes of 17-year-old John and his sweetheart Nomakha. Theirs is love across the colour divide. As they walk through the park, they reflect on what life was like during the Dark Ages compared with the Light Age in which they live.
"People had all become equal," says the author, meaning equal in material possession. "Terrorism and crime had disappeared from the earth, and so had superstition and prejudice." The artist is good at evoking atmosphere.
"They loved," he says of the two, "to roam through the dense vegetation, to dig with their hands into the moist soil and to bring some to their noses to inhale the fragrant aroma of the top layer. It made them feel part of nature, as once mankind had been, in long forgotten primitive days."
Environmentalists should love this story.
Now, any woman worth her salt would feel what MaSibanda goes through when a gunman rapes her while Ncube is lying prostrate. The title of the story, Between Two Men, sums up the position of the husband. Hwange-born educationist Addlis Sibutha describes how the two of them leave the beerhall at closing time. A lone gunman accosts them along the wasteland and warns Ncube to be sensible.
MaSibanda asks herself why Ncube didn't do something to fight off the rapist. Ncube thinks that perhaps MaSibanda knows this man from somewhere. Children, knowing their parents to be boisterous when they are in their cups, ask them why they are in a sullen mood.
Ncube meets the rapist at the bar and other men help him to mete instant justice on the scoundrel. The artist leaves you to imagine how MaSibanda will revenge herself when she has remained at home.
Rapists in Zimbabwe go to jail for seven years. In other countries it's 40. Plumtree-born Christopher Mlalazi (39) is a product in creative writing from Crossing Borders project of the British Council. He tells, in My Meat, the story of Zama.
He shows off to Nsingo the beer that Marx, who has come from South Africa, has bought for him at the bottle store. A dog makes off with braai meat that Zama had hidden in his jacket from the other guy. Zama runs after the dog as Marx buys himself a quart and talks of his girlfriend. Nsingo wishes he could go and work in Egoli. It's a sad story about youth and unemployment.
Derek Huggins joined the BSAP at 18 in 1959. He was CEO of the National Arts Foundation for 13 years up to 1988. Weaver Press has published his first collection of stories, Stained Earth.
P/O Greg Stanyon, in Crossing the Devine, is driving from Enkeldoorn back to camp in Sabi Valley. He finds workers poking a bird with sticks on the side of the road. Stanyon takes home this giant eagle owl and decides to put it down when he finds out that its wing is broken. He makes a bad shot and the bird takes a long time dying. In his remorse, a poignant past event pricks his conscience.
Seeing the bird fighting for its life becomes unbearable to him. This brings to mind the way the chicken tries to defy death when you have cut off its head. Horrible! The picture that Zambian-born Hezekela Mlilo (30) drew for the cover depicts the ideal woman by any standard - stout as a drum and strong enough to collar four oxen to the span single-handed. He won an award for graphics at the Mbira Art Exhibition and was nominated for Nama award.
The draw-card in the collection is Pathisa Nyathi. This member of the Zimbabwe Academic and Non-Fiction Authors Association has done justice to AmaNdebele culture through his works.
Pathisa Nyathi is first among equals in literary journalism in Zimbabwe. He ran columns in four publications at the same time and is public relations officer at Town House in Bulawayo.
In Illuminating Flames, this prolific writer pays tribute to the ancients who gave him wisdom.

The leaping crimson flames
Of mopane wood fires
Out in rural Kezi
Still flicker large in my city mind.

Another poet is John Eppel, born in 1947. His first novel, Great North Road,

won the M-Net prize in South Africa. In My Dustbin, he says:

These children
have acquired the patience of queuing;
children of neighbourhood; suburban;
queuing at my bin for a lucky dip.

Books, rights activists should have Short Writings from Bulawayo Two on the shelf.

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