BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
SEVERAL writers, who joined the world in celebrating the Black History Month themed Black Migrations, last week — courtesy of International Literature Festival (LitFest), cherished its positive impact on the development of the local literature industry.
In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style on the sidelines of the literary event, LitFest director Chirikure Chirikure said although migrations have painful dimensions they should be celebrated because some renowned writers like the late Dambudzo Marechera produced their work while abroad.
“We have a lot to celebrate, especially looking at this year’s theme. While it has so many painful dimensions to it, it also brought positives. There are quite a lot of contemporary Zimbabwean writers living in the diaspora, who include Brian Chikwava and Panashe Chigumadzi. Even before independence, a lot Zimbabwean writers like Marechera, Stanely Nyamupfukudza, and Wilson Katiyo wrote their books when they were abroad,” he said.
“Ironically the idea to found LitFest came when I was in Germany. My co-founders Chenjerai Hove, Pertina Gappa and Christopher Mlalazi were all in the diaspora so it was inspired by our experiences abroad.”
Renowned author, Shimmer Chinodya, who read a story like a prose poem, Snow, taken from his first anthology of short stories, Can we Talk and Other Stories said he also wrote Harvest of Thorns while in the diaspora.
“I wrote the book when I was studying masters in fine arts in creative writing at the Lowa writers’ workshop in the United States of America as my thesis for the degree. I was homesick. It’s good to be thrown in an uncomfortable situation, especially when you’re a writer,” he said.
Zimbabwe Writers Association secretary-general Lawrence Hoba, who read the short story, Our Freedom from the collection Writing Lives said they are many black people who achieved a lot in the literary scene.
“There is always something to celebrate for. We have black people who achieved a lot, especially in the literary scene. We look at WE Du Bois and Jonny Morrison. Literature has always been the mirror of the society exploring issues to do with blacks. It continues to be one channel through which the black history can be understood,” he said.