Mixed bag for Zim book sector Christopher Mlalazi

Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
The closing days of October were hectic in the book sector, mixed with some enlightening events and other very sad moments. Having come from a successful launch of two cultural research documents at the Zimbabwe-Germany Society in Harare on October 19, we two days later proceeded to Monomotapa Hotel for the 2018 Zimbabwe International Book Fair Indaba Conference which set in motion the week-long book fair themed “The Book: Creating The Future”.

ZIBF, which ended on Saturday, October 27, with a beautiful, educative writers’ workshop, was followed by the inaugural Norton Children’s Books Festival and Business Expo held on October 31.

And just a week into the fresh month of November, the literary community was gripped by news of the sudden death of motivational writer Prudence Madzadzavara. Madzadzavara, author of the newly-published book “Becoming the Best Version of You” (2018), was murdered on the night of November 6 by suspected robbers in a taxi along Enterprise Road in Borrowdale. May her soul rest in eternal peace.

Despite being postponed due to elections and the cholera outbreak, this year’s ZIBF had outstanding events such as the Indaba, the librarians and writers workshops.

At the librarians’ workshop, authors awakened to many truths like the need for them to remember the disabled (e.g the visual impaired), to rethink about packaging their creative works in forms accessible to this audience.

The writers workshop, themed “Writing the Book That Creates the Future” brought writers together to meet splendid speakers from the different niches of our literature. Honestly, the librarians’ and writers’ concerns were clearly expressed at the workshops.

However, the other usual book fair activities in the Harare Gardens like traders’ day, exhibitions, children’s reading tent, live literature were more relaxed than their previous years’ versions. And with all the hot economic sun, who knew Norton would rise with a bang in its promotion of children’s literature!

Credit goes to children’s literature writer Aleck Kaposa for the successful, inaugural Norton Children’s Books Festival and Business Expo held on October 31 at Katanga Shops under the theme “Connecting Books with Kids, Connecting Business with Customers”.

Kaposa’s vision with this festival became a reality that stamped its literary authority in the often forgotten Norton and children from a large selection of schools enjoyed what it is to befriend a book, poetry or fiction.

There were kids from these schools who rendered memorable poetry performances while new generation writers such as NAMA Award winner Tinashe Muchuri who was the guest of honour, Mutare-based Simbarashe Clever Kavenga, and Tabeth Manyonga who had a table adorned with copies of her new poetry collection “Passage of Life”, took it as their own platform as well.

Speaking after the event, festival director Aleck Kaposa described the festival as a ground-breaking and said its sights and sounds will not only echo in Norton only but in the whole of Zimbabwe.

“For hours the poets and writers, old and young, recited, quaked, presented, read and danced. It was all an exhilarating, ebullient poetry, music and art affair,” he said.

In the background of all this literary partying, different and newly published books hit the Bookshelf as well. The 2005 NAMA Award-winning writer Christopher Mlalazi had his trilogy turned into a book titled “Election Day”, a series of three plays with “The Debaters” and “2008” as the others which also have the same continuity of storyline and same cast.

Mlalazi seems to be now putting much trust in publishing his plays in books than on stage as he has discovered that plays do not last long if their path is only limited to the stage.

The third Volume of the Zimbolicious (Mwanaka Media and Publishing) series is a new amazing anthology of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and drawings, featuring the young and elderly.

In Harare, Edward Dzonze, also popularly known by his totem Nyamasvisva, mesmerised fellow writers at the ZIBF writers’ workshop with some poetry from his new book “Breakfast with Marechera” (Diaspora Publishers), a tribute to legendary writer Dambudzo Marechera.

If truth be told, the ZIBF also provided an opportunity for book lovers to learn of new books in the market and converse with their authors.

It was a few days into the fresh month of November that suddenly death knocked in the writing family. As young writer Prudence Madzadzavara’s grisly death was announced on social media, it was a heartbreaking moment that invoked tributes from writing friends.

Touching poems, memories, photographs, were posted on literary Whatsapp group.

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