For someone who grew up at a time when Chenjerai Hove and Charles Mungoshi were already writing poetry, classifying Emmanuel Sigauke’s poetry is a bit difficult.
Sigauke who is now based in the US has just released his debut poetry anthology titled Forever Let Me Go published by Publish America.
His poetry comes out as a blend of Mungoshi and Hove and then somewhere on the edges one hears Musaemura Zimunya’s voice.
In some poems Sigauke, like Hove, is angry while in others he is as subtle and tamed as Mungoshi and yet in others he takes a back seat admiring the countryside and talking to his people.
Then again, he mutates into an urbanite, a carefree aspiring writer, an exiled Zimbabwean, a student going through the years of discovery and then he is a revolutionary, a pan Africanist.
The anthology is presented in three parts – Back Home, Restless and Transition and Return.
Back Home has 15 poems, most of which deal with historical memories based on the past.
Some of the poems are The Teacher and The Curtain which depict stubbornness or carelessness on the part of a rural-based teacher who does not want to buy a curtain for his room.
On the surface that’s what it is but then this stubbornness and carelessness could be national or even international. So much has happened because some people are just full of pride.
Nations have exploded into civil wars largely because of such stubborn pride.
Sigauke is one of very few young writers who seem to write about land as belonging to the black people and in doing so bring in historical fact as justification.
The Unforgettable VaBhunga is one such poem which draws on history to show how the land issue has always been a pain and a source of restlessness.
Using VaBhunga as a subject, Sigauke talks about the early struggles over land and the defeat that saw tribes driven into arid areas while the settlers settle on fertile land.
Defeated and broken, VaBhunga walked away into the setting sun after declaring: “Sarai – I’m gone”.
Summer is Here is like a part II of Unforgetable VaBhunga since it shows the effects of a tribe driven onto arid land where there is “No summer . . . just a long dry stretch called chirimo, that exiled the rains, overseas and left the gate open, for the sun go and come as it pleased.”
Like Hove, he declares that even though Mazvihwa is a dry place, one might “soak in a dew of hope – you might even make the news – record of a stubborn survival spirit”. Most of the 13 poems in Restless show some kind of energy, movement.
The part opens with UZ 1994 that captures the endless clashes that have become synonymous with the institution.
Mounting Kenya is much recent and in the poem Sigauke juxtaposes the problems that bedevilled post election Kenya and Zimbabwe. In the poem, Sigauke turns into a Mungoshi using carefully chosen words.
The poem Puke and Rise that follows Mounting Kenya takes a dig at the systems which lead to situations obtaining in Kenya, Zimbabwe and indeed various other countries.
Sigauke drops down the Mungoshi gown and dons Hove’s. “Let me puke now/At the thought of colonialism/In all its forms – pre, pots, neo/Let me puke; let me puke”.
But he realises that in all matters affecting Africa mostly, tradition will save the day since from time immemorial people resorted to tradition for answers. He refers to tradition as the “mother who nurses bruises/ Of children already lost from memory.”
The title poem Forever Let Me Go is like a declaration for action after realising that whatever has been said or done had not yielded anything.
But then after spitting fire and kicking dust, a man has to be tamed and there could nothing and nobody for that job except a woman.
Herein comes the Transition and the Return of a warrior to a mother figure.
The 3rd part that has 17 poems opens with A New Day in which Sigauke mellows into the folds of abundant love:
Now that we have met/Allow me to call you my Masibanda;/Tame a wild heart, make it meow/ Sailing in a sea of kindness/ Aglow with rays of new hope/Your heart offer fro companionship;/Invite me to your garden.
Most of the poems in this part are personal and set in the “now”. I have known Sigauke as a pacesetter especially when he used to recite a brand of poetry which mixed both languages. – mazwi.net