Stanely Mushava Arts Correspondent
Memory Chirere’s “Bhuku Risina Basa Nekuti Rakanyorwa” on Saturday won the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) accolade for the Outstanding Fiction Book, affirming the dominance of local languages in the category.
Chirere’s debut poetry anthology was closely contested by Emmanuel Sigauke’s short story collection “Mukoma’s Marriage and Other Stories” and Weaver Press’s multi-authored “Writing Lives”.
“Bhuku Risina Basa” is a light-hearted collection minted with familiar images, everyday language and incisive insight into some of life’s ironies.
The anthology comprises 68, mostly short poems stylistically traceable to Chirere for his painstaking simplicity, humour, understatement, musical effects and flippant brevity.
“Bhuku Risina Basa” is the second title from the newly incepted Bhabhu Books to land the prize.
Bhabhu Books founder and editor Ignatius Mabasa told Herald Entertainment that his stable remains committed to the promotion of local languages and the to the celebration of the wealth, philosophy and beauty which inheres in the languages.
“It is only through telling new compelling stories that we will make Shona and other indigenous languages remain relevant,” Mabasa said.
Indigenous titles which have previously won in the category include Chirere’s collection “Tudikidiki”, Felix Manyimbiri’s “Mudzimu Wakupe Chironda” and Ignatius Mabasa’s “Imbwa Yemunhu” and “Ndafa Here?”
The Outstanding First Creative Published Work category was this year a preserve of female writers.
Cynthia Marangwanda’s “Shards” took the gong. The novella published by LAN Readers is an excursion into the spirit world.
The avant-garde young novelist is a granddaughter of J.W. Marangwanda, the author of “Kumazivandadzoka” and one of the earliest published black writers during the colonial era.
“Revai” by Ropafadzo Mupunga and “A Struggle Alike” by Debra Vakira both published by Zimbabwe Women Writers were nominees.
Interestingly, “Shards” was published by Leaders for Africa Network (LAN) Readers, a stable founded by young Richard Mahomva during his third year at Midlands State University.
Such ventures deserve commendation for ensuring an outlet for the next generation of Zimbabwean writers.
“Around the Fire – Folktales from Zimbabwe” edited by dramatist and director Raisedon Baya won the Outstanding Children’s Book accolade.
“Little Hare Stories – Big Trouble at the River” written by actor and film-maker Enock Chihombori and “Mombe Yamai” by Chenjerai Mazambani were nominees.
Highly regarded literary critic and poet Beaven Tapureta’s Writers International Network (WIN) Zimbabwe blog won the Online Media Award, a deserving commendation for Tapureta’s committed coverage of local literature. Theatre production “Imbiko kaMandlenya” adapted from Mayford Sibanda’s novel by the same title made a clean sweep in the theatre awards.
Bathabile Dlamini and Memory Kumbota won the Outstanding Actress and Outstanding Actor awards respectively for their roles in the production.
The stage-play won the Outstanding Theatrical Production gong as its director Nelson Mapako was awarded the Outstanding Director gong.