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Writer Catherine Mutukwa rewarded in South Africa - Zimbabwe Today
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Writer Catherine Mutukwa rewarded in South Africa

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Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
Zimbabwean fiction writer and poet Catherine Magodo Mutukwa believes she was called to write about women, for women as long as she can.

Her belief got strengthened recently when she was selected one of the female authors honoured for their contribution in social development at the inaugural IBHUKU Women Authors Exhibition Festival held in South Africa.

Mutukwa was honoured at the IBHUKU Awards ceremony on August 10 and, in absentia, received her IBHUKU Statuette in the African Literature Award category in recognition of her writings which fight against violation of women’s rights.

The awards ceremony, held at the Bessie Head Library in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, was part of the festival which had a series of other activities like book launches and signings by women authors, exhibitions, entertainment and presentations by high-profile artists and guests.

Another Zimbabwean poet Mbizo Chirasha was one of the speakers who presented on the topic “How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Brand as An Author”. The festival is the brainchild of Musa E Zulu, the creative director of Valhalla Arts.

Speaking to Bookshelf, South Africa-based Mutukwa expressed her gratitude to fellow Zimbabwean authors for their unwavering support and said giving up should not be entertained.

“It’s not easy sometimes and I can relate, but giving up is just the same. We have to keep persevering so that our writing makes an impact, a positive difference while creating new stories to showcase how far we’ve come and where we’re going. . . It is my wish that the old passion for the pen be revived not only nationally or regionally but also internationally by supporting and encouraging each other. Let’s keep writing,” she said.

The IBHUKU Awards celebrated ten women, including the late distinguished novelist and short story writer Bessie Head (1937-1986) who was awarded the Posthumous Literature Award which is a continued “immortalisation” of Bessie Head. In 2003 she was posthumously awarded the “Order of Ikhamanga in Gold”.

The festival, indeed a great initiative of the Valhalla Arts, was deliberately scheduled in August, a Women’s Month in SA dedicated to more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on August 9, 1956 in protest against the extension of pass laws to women. Worldwide, the Women’s Month is celebrated but at different times and mainly focuses on current issues affecting women.

A probe into Mutukwa’s writings, especially poetry, is like a dive into the hidden depths of emotion and thoughts of women shackled or in the process of unshackling themselves from different forms of chains.

Mutukwa’s word power glows and flows in cascades of songlike constructions. You feel the despair and hope, the neglect and self-discovery, which the women who dominate her poems are going through. For instance, in one of her poems “For Women Too Difficult to Love”, the woman is lost and broken but at some point in her agony she finds her strength and “this time inside-out/so they can see the scars that scream/when your pain cannot speak.

Magodo-Mutukwa’s name features in various publications (individual and collaborative anthologies) such as “Back to the Hills” (2011), “We Are One” (2013, Diaspora Publishers), “Reflection” (2014) and “Silent Cries: The Violated Speak” (2015), “Rendition of the Soul”, “Life” and “Broken Vessels”.

Back home, Batanai Gardens alive at the weekend with literary events featuring emerging authors.

On Saturday, August 25, motivational writer Simbarashe Nyamadzawo whose latest book is “Tatenda”, held a ‘Self-Publishing Master Class’ at the Batanai Mall for those who are mooting publishing on their own and want to understand issues like how to convert ideas into a stimulating book.

Tendai Makaripe’s book “Bleeding Hearts” was officially launched at the same venue the following day, Sunday, August 26. Makaripe said he was glad the launch went very well. Entertainment was provided by poet Tinashe Muchuri, Renew, a musical group and Best Mukundi Masinire, an Afro-jazz musician who was also the emcee. The book “Bleeding Hearts” was officially launched by Pastor Mangwende.

On September 1, there will be an event called “Cosy Cushions: Intimate Moments of Music and Words”. According to one of the event organisers, “Cosy Cushions” is an intimate, wholesome event that explores the depth of Music and Words enriched by other art forms for diversity.

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