The absence of a vibrant local publisher has seriously hampered the development of literature in the country, award-winning playwright and self-published author Raisedon Baya has said.
Baya said this recently at the Bulawayo Art Gallery while addressing authors who had gathered to commemorate the annual International Day of the African Writer.
The celebrations were organised by the Bulawayo chapter of the Zimbabwe Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association.
Baya said there was no “vibrant” publishing industry in the city, making it difficult for writers to put their works out on the market.
“The publishing industry in Bulawayo is operating at a very low scale. One could even say that it is non-existent,” he said.
“There are only maybe two companies that are known to publish books.”
He said lack of a strong publishing base had forced some writers to venture into self-publishing.
“I tried out self-publishing when I did my book, Tomorrow’s People. It is very difficult. Although I got money from the Culture Fund Trust of Zimbabwe, the difficulty I faced was that I had to distribute and sell the books all by myself. Out of 600 books that were printed, I only sold 100 and 500 are still in my house.”
Baya also took a swipe at the media for promoting writers based outside the country who have more resources at their disposal at the expense of struggling talented writers back home.
“If a writer wins an award outside our borders, but hails from Zimbabwe, we see journalists falling over each other to glorify that person. But the truth of the matter is that we have a lot of talented writers locally who only need exposure,” he said.
There is need for writers to also produce works in vernacular languages so as to ensure our traditions and culture do not fade away.
“Authors should also familiarise themselves with the country’s policies that have a bearing on their works such as the language and cultural policies rather than only concentrating on projects that would give them money.”