Author: Stanley Mushava
Title: Survivors Café
Publisher: Underclass Books & Films
Survivors Cafe offers a different kind of poetry informed by intricate philosophy on a dysfunctional post-colonial society, extending to an outer world that has not escaped the moral rot spreading its tentacles across the globe. It further extends to other matters of interest like music, religion and love.
Between the Lines: Beniah Munengwa
While some readers prefer simplicity, one of Stanely Mushava’s enduring traits, as demonstrated in this literary offering, is complexity and verbosity, which inform his poetic identity. As already known to his name, in his articles in newspapers and blogs, he takes time to explore the world, giving his valuable addition to reason and thought.
The scope of the book is centred on forwarding the quest to put to a stop the “deodorisation” of evil mainly in the post-2000 period. In executing his craft, he plays master of words, coining many new words and phrases so as to lay a claim to his name as a unique voice that interprets, reads and “philosophises” Zimbabwe.
The collection of articles and poems make for an alphabet of emotion that elaborates on floods of decadence overwhelming the world.
When the persona in the poem Ghetto Hunter probes, “Where is room to dream in this prison city?” it is clear that Mushava’s poetry broadcasts a feeling of incarceration mainly among youths, who feel life in Zimbabwe is equal to a wild hunt limited to confines that do not inspire people to grow and be able to realise their full potential.
Blueroof Freestyle exhibits the character trait of oppressed people, who when given a chance, take pride in urinating on the image of their oppressor. Mushava’s persona defaces both Robert and Grace Mugabe in a pre-orgasmic exercise that marked the couple’s departure from the realm of power. The poem is, however, a show of the limitations of contextual emotional writing in that the venomous and acidic outpour can only be relatable to that period whereas contexts shift from time to time.
From everything into which an individual invests their all, one always expects to gain some returns. But through Survivors Cafe, Mushava unravels the sad and low patches that writers find themselves in all because of poor returns from their efforts. At the end, a writer is declared poor both in thought and in economic terms for they lack the capacity to divert their energy towards somethings other than writing.
The writer demonstrates that “he, as a writer, is not like a broiler that innocently pecks around while the madam lists it on the Christmas menu.” In my view, some of his poems can be likened to Tafataona Mahoso’s style in Footprints about the Bantustan, critiquing both the self and the foreign force, aiming his venom towards colonialism. The writings are also alike in terms of poem length, subject and depth of ideological clarity.
The text carries evidence that Mushava’s intellect is very competent, rich and positively hybrid in a way that leaves him among those renowned for their tireless efforts to add value to the deep well of thought and knowledge.
The writer-poet also takes reasonable time in championing the cause of the artist by seeking recognition. Celebrated in the anthology is the life of the late Bill Saidi, a scribe of good repute, as espoused by Mushava’s writing and so is the music of Kendrick Lamar, who in the writer’s sense deserves a Nobel Prize for Literature.
This act from Mushava is commendable but in my view could have been broadened to extend towards also the broader African artistic landscape. But as a reader, the only option bestowed to him and has to live by it.
Though contested by some, the emerging sentiment in Mushava’s poem, Africa Spring that Africa should rise and be set on pedestals of growth and hope is what should overshadow the typically cynical and narcissistic character that now form a greater chunk of emerging from African and non-African scribes.
This tendency of turning all bottled emotion into writing has become an unconscious encroachment into the lane of African decency, reinforcing the stereotypical image of suffering and dysfunctionality.
Beyond the mess, the frustrations, the aspirations and the realisation, this cafeteria called life needs one functional attitude — the ability to make it a Survivors Café so long as there is no more a history man who gives immediate tickets to heaven for adversaries.
Beniah Munengwa writes in his own capacity. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org