Where are new Shona female poets?

13 May, 2015 - 00:05 0 Views
Where are new Shona female poets? The cover of "Tsuro Ndisunge"

The Herald

The cover of "Tsuro Ndisunge"

The cover of “Tsuro Ndisunge”

Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
‘‘Tsuro Ndisunge’’ (2015, Forteworx Press, Harare) is the second group anthology of Shona poems edited by the tripartite Brian T Penny, C J Mylton and Givemore Mhlanga. The same editors edited and facilitated publication of the first anthology titled ‘‘Zviri Mugapu’’ (2014).

The fact that these three young enterprising men have consistently edited and produced anthologies featuring upcoming Shona poets who are hard up for a platform to shine with their talents is a commendable achievement.

However, a quick look at these two anthologies so far published by Brian Penny and friends raises the questions: where are our new female poets? Are Zimbabwean women not heeding the many calls for poetry submissions from editors? Are publishers or editors not throwing the net far and wide across the country?

In terms of gender, each of these anthologies (“Tsuro Ndisunge” and “Zviri Mugapu”) features only two women, meaning only four women count in the two anthologies with a total of more than twenty poets. The male poets dominate and this indicates a glaring absence of the female voice. The two female poets in “Tsuro Ndisunge” are Catherine Mapanda and Sharon Ngomani. And five of the poets in the latest anthology ‘‘Tsuro Ndisunge’’ have also appeared in ‘‘Zviri Mugapu’’ and these are the three contributing editors (Brian Penny, C J Mylton, Givemore Mhlanga), Edwin Msipa and Kamuzezuru Shepherd Shadreck.

‘‘Tsuro Ndisunge’’, like its predecessor ‘‘Zviri Mugapu’’, carries poems by new poets. The poems have stated and implied themes of domestic violence, poverty, love, culture versus modernity/globalization, death, HIV and AIDS and the girl child and many others.

Although these themes are handled from varying perspectives, the poets tell a unique and collaborative poetic tale captured in moving language.

In these challenging times, homes or families reek of hate, violence and disintegration, and because of money friendships lose the trust upon which they were built in the first place. Human beings are under pressure to free themselves from the tight embrace of the fast changing times. As some of the human experiences are recreated in the poems in ‘‘Tsuro Ndisunge’’, our own misdirection and weaknesses are brought in the open, one hears the voices of children caught up in a violent home, feels the agony of a girl child raped by her own father or sees how deeply the youths and adults have fallen prey to immorality and social media abuse.

Although a number of poems tend to embrace the stereotypical where the woman is constantly lambasted for things like failing her marriage or spreading AIDS or disrespecting her mother-in-law, a light comes shining through other poems which fearlessly tackle ‘‘fatherhood’’ as a contributor to sad situations also.

The persona in the poem Zibabanzenza by Nkosiyazi Kanjiri is an angry girl child who, after the rape by her father, refuses that the same man be referred to as her father. The first stanza immediately leads with a strong emotion.

“Ndiroka iri zijekavana,

Rume ramunoti baba vangu,

Rine njere dzakadambuka mbariro


Edmond Shonhiwa further takes the issue of an irresponsible father in his poem “Ndihwo Hubaba Here?” The children have for too long suffered at the hands of a violent father that now they dearly miss the love in their home. They plead:

“Rwenyu rudo torusuwa senyama yemusango

Renyu simba munoratidza nekutiridza sengoma

Munotibaya moyo neenyu maitiro

Saka ndihwo hubaba here?’’

Had children the right to disown their irresponsible parents, perhaps a change in parental behaviour could be achieved. Many a time the children are voiceless but Edwin Muketiwa Msipa does give a voice to the young victims of domestic violence. In his poem Hatichavada, the personae who are children, protest thus:

“Zvikuru vari baba vane ukasha,


Vaya vanorariroreke-eta vachishusha,


Vazive kuti zvakatoshisha!”

The poets in Tsuro Ndisunge also stress the need to reciprocate trust. They discourage evasive or rather elusive friends.

Killian Bobojani captures it well in his poem ‘‘Pakudzorera Chikwereti’’. He uses the image and voice of a badly indebted persona to show the guilt and ill-will that suddenly develops when payment time comes. The same theme is addressed by Givemore Mhlanga in his rhyming poem ‘‘Ko Mari Yangu’’ but this time the persona is the ‘‘poor’’ creditor having trouble with a rather evasive, guiltless and now rich friend who owes him/her money:

“Ini ndoita mukora nebhachi,

Iwe zvako uchifamba uchigadaira sehachi,

Uchitonyiminya sewazora huchi

Kutonhuwirira maruva seuchateverwa nenyuchi

Ndokubvunza yangu mari wonditi chii

Kukanganwa chane zuro, ko nhai chii?(G Mhlanga)’’

The anthology “Tsuro Ndisunge” achieves outstanding variety in its themes and the effect of this collection is to be felt by the youths and adults. In these modern times, we are witnessing a new kind of statement-making fashion. The extreme fashionistas have total disregard for decency. Joseph Matonga, in his poem “Pasi Papinduka”, shows how even adults who are supposed to take active role in promoting ‘‘hunhu’’ have lost manners due to selfish, external influences:

“Havo mbuya vaChiedza,

Mhete rembetete, muromo piriviri,

Tsiye dzaiswa chisvo wangove mutsetse

Musana panze waya!”

Matonga’s poem “Tsuro Ndisunge” is the title poem. It heralds the sweetness or bitter sweetness to be found in the anthology. It adeptly foretells the sweet surrender with which readers will delve into the book but it is delayed and appears many pages later in the anthology! The poem makes you want to taste ‘‘chidokohori mushonga wemavende’’ which is the poetry produced by the ‘‘wise hares’’, the poets.

Good to note that some of the poets in “Tsuro Ndisunge” also feature in another new Shona poetry anthology titled “Dzinonyandura” (2015, edited by Tinashe Muchuri) which Bookshelf already has and hopefully will review one of the days.

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