BETWEEN THE LINES: Beniah Munengwa
Title: Pills of Wisdom
Author: Christine Nhamo
Publisher: ZimTalksTV Publishers (2019)
THERE has been serious debate in literary circles over what it would take to revive the reading culture of literary texts in Zimbabwe. As a result, many templates too have been established to that end.
Some argue that children must be guided towards favouring the book over a multitude of other media, including the internet, TV and the cinema. At the same time, some consider it a matter of affordability and suggest it is the way to go if ever the accessibility of books is to be improved.
But the factor of book-length is not to be ignored, too. Time is reported to be scarce and hence, a long book may not find favourites for they chew a large chunk of one’s day in a highly demanding world. All this and more passed through one young writer who, in her own right, penned a new offering that seeks to bypass the ever-stretching reading culture gap.
Currently published in ebook format, Christine Nhamo’s Pills of Wisdom is a free-for-all product made readily available through all electronic formats, save for audio and video. Added to the merits of her offer is that it is not short of colour, making it a lively piece of art, appropriate for the subject matter handled by her pen.
The availability of books like Nhamo’s is an everyday necessity as part of the much-needed therapy given the hardships that Zimbabweans have had to deal with over the last few years.
Nhamo writes in a simple way that makes the content accessible to any person that is fairly literate.
Pills of Wisdom is intended to jump-start people’s livelihoods by first addressing the problems and weaknesses usually tied to the human way of doing things.
The Bible says, “My people perish because they lack knowledge.” Attempts to add knowledge, therefore, are always welcome in this modern civilisation.
It appears Nhamo took special consideration of the issues affecting today’s reading culture and used them as a form of breaking new ground. As the name suggests, her offerings are as compact as pill dosages, short and precise, with each section consuming only but one page and rarely nothing more.
This suits her model well, whereby she suggests books of today must be compatible to compete with the electronic gadget that steals away each and every second of civilisation that was previously allotted to reading.
Nhamo’s offering can be read in less than a day, if not in a few hours. But upon finishing it, there is a guarantee that the reader will not be the same again.
The “pills” come with check-ups where the writer invites the reader to probe into their lives and hopefully be able to come out of the reading experience changed. One is forced to take a detour and reflect on his or her progression in life.
As a result, the motivational fire that emerges out of the reader is not that which is entirely prescribed for them, but that which they too will have helped construct by engaging with the book’s content.
The motivational content includes bold reminders like “be careful not to die a beggar when you were meant to be the king”. Although the text is sublime on the motivational front, it is its form that strikes me the most. In my view, however, in line with Nhamo’s vision, if the text is further trimmed into mere opening quotes, can be made into mobile applications and desktop pop-ups and still be able to offer the same impact to the time-chocked reader.
I admit, each opening self-quote carries within itself heavy content that can stand on its own, suitable for bathroom and kitchen-sticker notes that suitably pump up one’s day forward.
Nhamo is a law student, poet, writer and human rights advocate.