Writing talent in rural Mazvihwa

Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
Writers’ workshops being conducted today are usually centralised in towns and cities and are issue-based rather than skills training oriented.

While the young writer is hungry for skills, the senior writer wants to discuss issues.

In Harare, for instance, the annual ZIBF Writers Workshop mainly focuses on advanced writing issues whereas the new or budding writer would be in need of writing skills although he/she cannot escape from the impact of things like piracy, language, and others.

The budding writers in the rural areas are at times neglected and it is at this point that credit must be given to our established writers who in 2015 drove to Mazvihwa, a rural area in Zvishavane, to train new writers.

The workshop they conducted was unique and led to the discovery of writing talent which today shines in literary circles.

The Chisiya Writers’ Workshop of August 2015, held in Mazvihwa and facilitated by three Zimbabwean writers Emmanuel Sigauke, Memory Chirere and David Mungoshi, has products to show as the writing community of Mazvihwa is now in the limelight on social media as well as in various publications.

Named after a hill that has fond memories for US-based Sigauke who organised the workshop and also come from the area, the workshop inspired the formation of the Chisiya Writers Club which meets every Saturday. The club is in the process of compiling a Shona poetry anthology.

Emmanuel Mhike, a club member and one of the budding writers who had an opportunity to be part of the unforgettable Chisiya Writers Workshop, is continuing to have his talent sharpened by appearing in international journals such as Sacramento Poetry, Tule Review and on various blogs.

Mhike is the only poet from Africa who features in the 2018 edition of Tule Review, an international publication based in America.

It all started from the rural writing skills training workshop which Mhike acknowledges was like a garden of fertile soil which nurtured him. It marked the beginning of his journey in the “write” direction after a long time of searching. The time he and his fellow aspiring writers spent being trained by Sigauke, Chirere and Mungoshi, helped him discover something great within.

In a brief interview, Mhike said the workshop was the first of its kind in the Midlands province as it gave the rural budding writers five days of intensive reading, creative reading and analysing.

“It was so phenomenal to spent quality writing time with celebrated writers down in our dusty and rural Mazvihwa,” said Mhike.

Now that he is exposed to the broader writing community, Mhike has come to believe that if nothing is done to help rural budding writers, great talent will be wasted.

“Great and established writers should invade the largely marginalised communities which are usually pregnant with raw talent. Writers like Sigauke, Mungoshi and Chirere, inspired me so much to write and write differently,” said the poet from Mazvihwa

The workshop’s name, Chisiya, has a writerly background melody. The Chisiya Hill, in other words, is a source of inspiration, a meeting place for “a great mentor/teacher (Sigauke) and his student (Mhike)” who also happen to be namesakes. A poetic hill for the poetic Emmanuels!

Sigauke, who has continued to follow up on Mazvihwa writers, said in a brief chat with Bookshelf that his bond with this hill in his backyard started to show when he was thirteen years old. He was just finishing Grade 7 at Mototi Primary School. As he grew up, so the affectionate link also deepened.

“It is my hill, so to speak, where I did much of my reading and writing. I used to call it my library,” said Sigauke could not help using the hill in one of his published short stories titled “To The Gathering”.

His namesake Mhike, has a poem in the Munyori Literary Journal titled “Chisiya” which he translates to “leave it” and urges anyone to leave behind the past of bad habits and in their lives strive for a great legacy.

Born Emmanuel Hove Mhike in Mazvihwa in 1987, the young poet says he is preparing to publish his debut Shona and English poetry anthologies. And should the anthologies be published soon or later, it would be a confirmation of talent existing in rural places which the literary sector usually ignores.

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