Rabison Shumba’s inspirational toolkit

Stanely Mushava Literature Today
Book: Showers of Inspiration
Author: Rabison Shumba
Publisher: Greatness Factory Publishers (2014)
ISBN: 978-1-312-29530-8 
In Rabison Shumba’s terms of reception, books must be toolkits for self-development rather than shelf-development. With Bugle, the ghetto advocate, Shumba wants to see “every sour lime become sweet, and every board house turn concrete.” And the capacity for that conversion is not in alchemy but in art. True to the design, Shumba is at the head of a sustained current of inspirational literature in which he provokes everyone to maximise their possibilities regardless of their setting.

Where most books are becoming carcinogenic vectors, scaling down moral consciousness, Shumba wants his to be a spiritual diet for the improvement of humanity. Determination to infect every audience possible with hunger for lasting accomplishment, recently saw him genre-switching from prose to poetry.

“Svinga Renduri,” a varied, multi-authored Shona poetry anthology which he co-ordinated and published, was recently selected to be a Zimsec set-text beginning next year.

In the solo domain, Shumba has been equally restless, harnessing his a-thought-a-day social network mantra into creative products. After a few self-help titles, notably “The Greatness Manual” and “Fountain of Inspiration” (in two volumes), Shumba dropped his first solo poetry anthology, titled “Showers of Inspiration,” in 2014.

The book is jam-packed with raindrops of inspiration, as the title promises, to facilitate an optimistic outlook and motivate readers to progress to productivity. In “Showers of Inspiration,” Shumba cuts away from his trademark format of serialising brief, self-contained statements to a more elaborate, possibly more personal, approach.

I recently posted a modest proposal for motivational writers in these columns, concerned that their works were set to a homogeneous template, lacking in the implements of art, seldom raising anything new and, in some cases, downright mediocre.

In my opinion, Shumba easily stands out of the crowd as one of the few polished exponents. A lot of deliberation evidently went into the poetry. The poems lend themselves to immediate appreciation with their everyday diction, occasional rhymes enhancing the flip-mode. However, my gripe with the rhyme is that sometimes it is replaced by inordinate repetition, and sometimes deployed rough and ready.

In the best instances, Shumba manages his inspirational nuggets in neat and elegant couplets. The simplicity and immediacy fit the poems primarily for the stage, not a bad choice considering that the esoteric tendency of most poets could be the main reason for their obscurity.

Despite the simplicity, Shumba has a way of keeping his work from tending towards the prosaic — his eloquence and the way he tags readers into moral deliberations. An editorial review by noted poet Chirikure Chirikure counts it “great pleasure to witness the arrival of this fresh, unique and committed poetic voice.”

The thematically varied collection is made up of six sections, “Personal Motivation and Inspiration,” “Humanity, Ubuntu, Tolerance,” “Deep Emotional Reflections,” “Africa, My Home, My Delight,” “Love and Relationships,” and “Nature Speaks — The World around Us,” averaging 10 pages each.

The opening poem “I am an Entrepreneur,” is a hustler’s manifesto, salutary of the innovative minds who do not need an orderly setting in order to thrive.

Like the biblical pilgrims whose sojourn in a place of desolation turns it into running springs, Shumba’s ideal entrepreneur is driven to deliver where others murmur, thrive where others survive, provide solutions where others magnify problems, generate positive energy in an inconvenient setting and make the world better for humanity.

The poem is conveniently situated at the outset of the anthology as entrepreneurship is currently the heart of the matter. Having exhaustively theorised its problems for over a decade, Zimbabwe now needs disruptive innovators who can rebuild the economy one start-up at a time.

“My Decision, My Destiny,” is a poem about being able to direct and to answer for one’s course of action, instead of being tagged into circumstances and outsourcing responsibility. For the persona, rewriting exams, stumbling and falling is proof of motion, unlike those who recline in imagined ease to detect the mistakes of others, while their own races are unattended.

“Trouble Made Me” is a familiar ghetto story. The survivor narrates how he was toughened by tribulations and emboldened by challenges. Having seen the worst, he stands proud and flaunts former trouble as qualification to face any impediment.

Across the gulley, he declares: “I am here for a reason, not just for a season.” I am reminded again of ghetto sing-jay Bugle saying to be “Proud of your hungry days that make a man so brave/ Proud of your broke days, now you need to save.”

In “The Digital Era — My Writing Story,” Shumba shares how the gadgetry of the day facilitates his creative workflow. In an interview for a 2014 article, “Is the Internet a friend or foe of creative writing?” Shumba told me how most of his writing shapes up from his more articulate posts on social media.

I know of a several books written this way, including the aforementioned “Svinga Renduri.” However, I am anxious to point out that while social media is strategic for harnessing creative sparks, which might be otherwise lost, collation must be followed by meticulous editing.

“Just in the palm of your hand or base of your pocket/ Lies a machine small, with the heart of a rocket/ Giving you possibilities yet unplugged from the socket/ Offering you the ability to read books, taking you out of life’s thicket,” flows the life coach, in this instance the tech connoisseur.

Whether inspired by the productive faculty of the mobile phone, or his background in telecommunications, Shumba merits credit for his fine touch in the verse and poem in general.

“The day a dream spoke” is a rather unusual complaint from a stillborn business idea to the sluggish originator, that sterile dreamer “who never gets to bring ideas to reality.” Shumba, the life coach, inserts a postscript at the foot of the poem: “This is one of the many dreams that were neglected by the ‘dreamer.’ Quit just dreaming and make your dreams become reality that people can touch and feel.”

While the rest complain how slow things are, companies downgrading, the Benjamins growing wings, and aid running dry, the stage is set for the best, that avant-garde entrepreneur who knows that empires are always built in the setting of adversity. Yes, that Gafa in your mirror!

“Did she deserve this?” is a war-chant against abortion and cruelty to babies, in the order of Oliver Mtukudzi’s “Haupinde Denga” and “Makaitei?” The poem speaks for millions of babies worldwide deemed unfit for “the womb’s protection” because they are considered a hindrance to “the mother’s ambition.”

Ironically, abortionist crusaders are not ashamed to decimate the innocent and vulnerable behind the banner of freedom. It is not surprising what euphemisms can now be assigned to murder, given the ethically inverted climate of the day.

In the West, the foremost proponent of abortion, Planned Parenthood, not content with taking the murder of unborn babies to scale, is now chopping the human parts for sale. It does not help matters that the moral jargon of the day is hopelessly distorted, bar Isaiah’s vision of judgment where “the vile person will no longer be called liberal.”

In the “The monster we created,” Shumba calls out capitalist machinery on climate change. He protests against the shattering of our shield, the mass obliteration of life, and the annihilation of the future. The poet counts the human cost, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts and an extinction phase for mankind, to dismiss the monetary benefit.

On a summative score, “Showers of Inspiration” is a lyrically potent and thematically pertinent anthology from an important voice in inspirational literature.

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