Love for culture influences Mabonisa’s writings

This played a vital role in his writing and research skills which enabled him to connect culture with modernisation.

AUTHOR Zibusiso Condry Mabonisa says his writings are influenced by his love for culture, values and norms as well as his affection for isiNdebele and his rural background.

Mabonisa told NewsDay Life & Style that his rural background made it easy to write about culture because he grew up in an environment in which culture was appreciated and practised.

This played a vital role in his writing and research skills which enabled him to connect culture with modernisation.

With eight publications under his name, both fictional and academic published in English and isiNdebele, Mabonisa believes his strength lies in isiNdebele.

“I would like to encourage authors writing in vernacular that it is our duty to ensure that our mother language is very competitive on a national level and on international stages. We can do this by ensuring that we publish high standard books that will convince the readers,” he said.

Born and bred in Kezi, Matopo district, Mabonisa attended Mloyi Primary School before he moved to Zamanyoni Secondary School.

He did his Advanced level at DonkweDonkwe Secondary School and he is a holder of a Bachelor of Social Science Honors degree in Development Studies obtained from Catholic University of Zimbabwe. He is the chairperson of Zimbabwean Academic and Non-Fiction Authors Association Bulawayo Chapter.

Although Mabonisa never dreamt of becoming an author, he has received accolades from various award boards in the country including Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards and the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama).

“Frankly, growing up I never saw myself as an author. Growing up in rural areas some careers are almost impossible. We were inspired by teachers, police officers, soldiers and nurses and it is very difficult to dream beyond that because you hardly interact with other professionals. I believe that the biggest obstacle in rural areas for children is lack of exposure to careers and career guidance,” Mabonisa said.

Mabonisa, however, developed the love of reading novels because of his family.

“My father is a teacher, he loves reading books of all kinds and he would bring novels from the school library and my mother and sister would read them for me. At the age of eight, I read a book by Ezekiel Hleza titled Emfuleni Wegazi Lezinyembezi and from that point I read novels by Barbara Makhalisa, Bernard Dima Ndlovu, Pathisa Nyathi, among others,” he said.

Mabonisa recalled his school days as a student who was good at composition writing such that at primary school his compositions were displayed on art section chart boards.

He revisited those compositions in 2015 when he was a high school graduate awaiting opportunities.

In 2018, he launched his career as an author with Icala Labokhokho as his first publication.

“The book talked about the effects of unsolved family quarrels and secrets to the generations to come and how culture and modern technology can be combined in conflict management,” Mabonisa said.

Since then, Mabonisa has been writing and publishing books that address various issues and has also worked with other authors.

He added that he drew inspiration from the works of Pathisa Nyathi and the late Naison Tfwala whom he testified contributed a lot to his development as an author.

Mabonisa has written books such as Ukhetiwe which speaks about cultural modernisation as a solution to our generation’s problems such as child pregnancies, child marriages, and social ills like Vuzu parties, spread of sexually transmitted infections, and equality across gender, ethnicity and race.

His other offering, Amazilo Esintu, is an academic book about the taboos in the Matabeleland region.

The book outlines and explains their purpose in relation to today’s science.

Ukhetiwe scooped the Nama Outstanding Fiction Book award at the recently held awards in Bulawayo and was nominated for the Outstanding Literary work at the Bulawayo Arts Awards, while Amazilo Esintu won the best Cultural Literature Book award at the Matabeleland Cultural Awards (2022) and was nominated for the Outstanding Ndebele Literary Work at the Bulawayo Arts Awards (2022).

Mabonisa pointed out that collaborating with other authors offered opportunities for growth.

“When I joined the Zimbabwean Academic and Non-Fiction Authors Association, Bulawayo Chapter, I had never written an academic book. Through collaboration and mentorship by Naison Tfwala I became the lead author of Amazilo Esintu. I also managed to be part of scholars who wrote a book titled The Anthology of Climate Impact Stories of Africa, which is a book on climate change and was launched at Cop 28 last December, a very big platform.” Mabonisa said.

Mabonisa voiced concern over the future of the literary industry in the country as the reading culture is slowly dying with people either preferring free books or not reading at all.

He also noted that publishing has become easier since authors can now self-publish.

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