Lovemore Ranga Mataire The Reader
Students undertaking an English Honours Degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe recently launched the English Department Creative Writing/Press Club whose mission is to reignite a reading culture in Zimbabwe and create a platform for students to interface with opinion leaders who they rarely interact with in their daily study schedules.
Speaking at the launch of the club, interim club chairperson Brian Madongonda said the club was a born out of a predominantly English Honours study group, which felt it provident to form a club where students could interface with decision-makers in all sectors of society.
He said there was need for students to get practical exposure to key opinion leaders in society and acquaint themselves with various issues affecting their country with the view of enhancing their understanding of how the media operates in shaping the economic, social, economic and political spheres of the country.
“Our ultimate goal is to foster a spirit of good citizenship by empowering students with relevant information needed to navigate the various industrial facets of our country. Share and exchange information with artists about their work and in turn inspire students to aspire for greater heights in their various fields of study,” Mandongonda said.
Madongonda said the Creative Writing/Press Club is a unique platform for students to coalesce and have peer review of fellow students’ work with a view of building well-rounded graduates beyond the confines of the lecture room.
Already, the club has hosted South African-based academic Professor Robert Muponde, who had a discussion with the students about his recent publications. United States-based Herald Correspondent Obi Egbuna shared the same platform with Prof Muponde where he delivered a lecture on the shared experiences of Africans on the continent and their African-American brothers.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services who is also the Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba has already been a guest speaker.
Mr Charamba’s lecture topic was “Is writing back to Empire still a noble project in the post-colonial epoch? How can this dictum be infused in the media?”
He chided academics for the constant use of the dictum-post-colonial, which he said gives a veneer of movement which is false.
“It gives an illusion of having encompassed and superseded the colonial epoch. I have a serious problem with that kind of thinking because I look around and I see very powerful symbols of long colonialism . . . which means colonialism which endures long after formal structures have been dismantled.
“And in any case it all takes us to where you locate colonialism, is it by way of the ruler of the day which means his departure becomes synonymous with the end of an epoch or is it by way of the systems, the structures, the ethos that took a good 90 years to cultivate?” Mr Charamba said to an expectant crowd of students and lecturers mainly from the University of Zimbabwe Arts Faculty.
The students were elated to have an afternoon with prominent awarding winning author Shimmer Chinodya last Friday who spoke about the inspiration behind his writing particularly his early novels “Farai’s Girls” and “Harvest of Thorns”. It was an unforgettable time for students to interact with one of their literary heroes whose books are studied at various universities world- wide.
Chinodya commended students for setting up the club and encouraged them to enjoy literature for what it is and not to be dogged down by ideologies.
“When I set out to write, I don’t consider any ideologies. I just develop a story that I think is compelling, that I think will have a bearing on humanity,” said Chinodya.
He said although his writing and lifestyle bear similarities with the late Dambudzo Marechera, the two were very different in many ways. Chinodya said he has decided to dedicate his life to reading and writing.