BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI
BUDDING writers in rural communities of Zvishavane got a shot in the arm in their bid to get more resources and reach bigger audiences through an ambitious project meant to amplify the voices of people writing from the margins of society.
Most countries on the continent, Zimbabwe included, have a dearth of spaces where one, especially those in marginalised communities, can express their talent.
Where opportunities are presented, the voices of the marginalised are often distorted to fit a narrative of only a few elite.
It is against this backdrop that Chisiya Writers Club, based in Mazvihwa, rural Zvishavane, has joined hands with Nhetembo TV to champion isolated and marginalised writers.
Nhetembo TV is a popular online platform operating on Facebook and YouTube channels with the aim of promoting poets. It is owned by Gweru-born and South Africa-based poet and arts promoter Itai “The Poet” Sekeremo.
The project, which will in future spread to other parts of the country, will showcase content from over 150 writers under Chisiya Writers Club on its social media channels, championing diverse writers and all forms of poetry.
“Nhetembo TV partnered with Chisiya Writers Club in a bid to promote rural poets and these will be featured weekly,” said Chisiya Writers Club director of programmes Emmanuel Mhike.
“We have 150 poets to be featured this year all of them not known, but talented. Chisiya Writers Club promotes unique rural writing model workshops giving and amplifying creative, but marginalised voices.”
Chisiya Writers Club is the brainchild of United States-based creative writing lecturer, Professor Emmanuel Sigauke, who comes from the same area.
Sigauke is also the founding editor of the popular Munyori Journal, one of the global spaces promoting latent writing talent.
“Our aim as Chisiya Writers Club is to get to the marginalised communities, identify, nurture and expose talent. We know there is versatile talent in rural areas that only need to be exposed,” said Mhike, a product of the writers’ club which is based at Gwavachemai Secondary School.
“I am the product of the writers club and I have my work published on global platforms like the California Sacramento, California Publication and Munyori Journal where I have contributed five poems. I am looking forward to publish my own Shona anthology titled Nzungu Dzembeu in May this year.”
Mhike said it was time to get down to the basics and desist from workshop and seminars in hotels.
He said poetry, like any other form of art, help communities come to terms with their day-to-day living, share their experience and communicate stories about their wellbeing.
Sekeremo confirmed the partnership between Nhetembo TV and Chisiya Writers Club, saying it would go a long way in championing grassroots talent.
“We are glad to announce our partnership with wonderful creatives from some marginalised communities of the country. There is talent out there that needs our support and recognition,” said Sekeremo.
“Our first series will feature talented poets from rural community-based, writing and performance initiative which was formed in rural Zvishavane called Chisiya Writers Club.
“As Nhetembo TV, our aim is to promote Zimbabwean poetry and poets (with special preference to our indigenous languages and dialects) so when we were approached by Chisiya Writers Club.”
Sekeremo said the poems would be featured under the programme Voices of the Marginalised on the online TV channel.
“We are trying to amply the voices of our rural folk as well as expose them to the world, who knows the next Albert Nyathi or Chirikure Chirikure will emerge from this programme,” he said.
“As Nhetembo TV, we feel poetry is a very powerful art form that lacks adequate corporate support and exposure, so we are trying to grow it as a powerhouse edutainment art genre that competes with other forms like music and comedy, among others.”
Sekeremo bemoaned lack of space and opportunities for budding writers in the country, saying there was need for artists to exploit the digital spaces to reach out to their audiences.
Follow Moses on Twitter @mmugugunyeki2