Nhekwe Dziri Kanyi, an anthology of Ndau and Manyika poetry, has now hit the literary market, much to the excitement of people from Manicaland.
Authored by Ndau poet Ishmael Penyai who hails from Biriwiri village in Chimanimani, the book has created so much interest in the literary circles and also stirred debate on Rekete ChiNdau, a social forum for Ndau and Manyika speakers on Facebook.
Musaemura Zimunya, a prominent senior lecturer with the English department at the University of Zimbabwe, had this to say about Nhekwe Dziri Kanyi on a post on Facebook:
“To read this poetry collection is to discover words, accents, tones and nuggets of ethnic expression currently alienated by the Shona Language Committee’s obsession with the so-called ‘Standard Shona’.
“We experience the beauty of poetry in words we thought were dead and realise that we owe it to ourselves as a nation to keep, protect and revive the great gift of language inherited from our forefathers, all across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe.
“The nation owes Penyai credit for reminding us that Ndau is not a ‘crazy’ dialect but that it is capable of depicting courtship and romance, celebration and laughter, death and misery. The same goes for those other marginalised ethnic dialects such as Korekore, Venda, Chiduma, Kalanga, Northern Manyika, to name but a few.”
Pamenus Tuso, a Bulawayo based-freelance journalist, expressed satisfaction about the book and said that this was a milestone achievement in as far as resuscitating Ndau language was concerned.
“I feel so proud that my language has at last found its way into the literary world. This is something that I will forever cherish,” Tuso said.
An excited Penyai said at least 100 books had found their way into schools in Manicaland and that the copies that he had placed in bookshops were selling like hot cakes.
“I have been distributing the book around the country and the response is encouraging,” said Penyai who is also a bookseller.
The poet said he was so proud of this achievement and that he planned to start writing Ndau for children.
“We need to capture children at a young and tender age. I am so overwhelmed with emotions because this is the day I had dreamt of for years. I have also started writing yet another poetry anthology entitled Scarlet Memories which will be in English,” he said.
The poet was prompted to start this project after realising that Ndau, a language spoken in Chipinge and Chimanimani areas of Manicaland, was slowly dying.
“I am determined to keep ChiNdau alive,” remarked an ecstatic Penyai.