Writings of the general word's body
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Excerpt from An Open Letter to Thabo Mbeki
If I may digress a little, Mr Mbeki, it is not far from many people’s minds that you rather envy Mr Mugabe. Only your country’s iron-clad constitution, its tight bonds to international capital, its vigilant and frankly rabid press, and the naked ambition of the men and women around you prevent you from embracing the joys of geriatric dictatorship. You cannot be Mr Mugabe, Mr Mbeki, but you have been his body man and his handmaid. You have aided him in his misrule, you have provided cover for him before the world, you have blocked the will of the majority of Zimbabweans who have a different vision for their country.
You are human, Mr Mbeki, and are therefore prey to the resentments and obstinacies that plague the mere mortal. There was that HIV-does-not-cause-Aids brouhaha, wasn’t there, and the whole ARV saga, where you had to cave in to pressure and go along with a policy you did not support. Then there is the more recent Polokwane putsch by ballot – democracy is a bitch, isn’t it, Mr Mbeki? You are probably still seething because Jacob Zuma, a man whom you consider unfit to govern, may very soon move into the seat you currently occupy in Union Building. And of course, there are those unflattering comparisons to your predecessor, Nelson Mandela. History has wedged you between a saint and a satyr, Mr Mbeki; it must be really hard to be you.
What a splendid insult! Petina Gappah's open letter recalls Shailja Patel's one to another dastardly fellow during the recent Kenya crisis.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
- Read Chika Okeke-Agulu's post on Chinua Achebe & Kwame Anthony Appiah's conversation around the 50th anniversary of the seminal novel, Things Fall Apart - held at Princeton on 26 March, 2008.
- Image © Chika Okeke-Agulu
- Images © Zanele Muholi (Ryerson University, Toronto)
The policeman snatches her passport from her hand. “You’ll not be going anywhere anytime soon,” he snarls at her. She tells him a story that puts her in the best light, no searching for lip balm in hand bags, but still he’s not happy.
“So you say you were going 40?” he asks, one side of his lip rose in disgust. She was a Boer, same as all of them. He hates her just as she expects him to.
She doesn’t hear him at first; she is watching another police officer lift the tiny body, now covered with a sheet onto the back of the bakkie. Only her small feet hang out. She wears the clunky black school shoes and white ankle socks of all of the school girls. Her mind drifts to her own daughter safely at school wearing the same shoes, the same socks. But then she thinks- even this girl’s mother believes that her daughter is safely at school. She has faith that all is well. A faith that will mock her with her ignorance when she finds out the truth in the matter.
Her husband, Johanne, comes up. “So are we done then, Boss?” his booming voice tampers down the policeman’s authority.
“Yes, she can go. But I’m keeping the passport. Don’t go anywhere.” He is not happy; the game is over too soon for his appetite.
They climb into the vehicle and they turn towards home. “Bloody Kaffir!” her husband spits. “Stupid picaninny jumps in the road and they want to blame you! Who the hell does he think he is? Just shows what idiots they are.” He looks at his wife staring blankly out the window and he becomes quiet. “Are you okay? “ He rubs her thigh with his big, red hand.
- Read God's Command
Published a tad belatedly, Crossroads (Apex Books, Lagos) is a new anthology of poetry in honour of Christopher Okigbo on the 40th anniversary of his death. Co-edited by Patrick Tagbo Oguejiofor and Uduma Kalu, Crossroads is introduced by critic E.E Sule and has a foreword by Isidore Okpewho. The late poet's daughter, the artist Obiageli Ibrahimat Okigbo is one of over 120 contributors (Nigerian poets at home and in the diaspora) in the anthology; she also did the cover design. Originally intended for publication in time for last September's Okigbo Conference in Boston, the anthology will now get its public presentation at a special reading in Abuja, to be attended by Okigbo's widow, Sefinat Judith Attah.
“A different window on Zimbabwe”
A Special Focus during the Poetry International Festival
“Zimbabwe is a country of poets. Zimbabweans write poetry, speak it and sing it in Shona, Ndebele, Tonga, Shangaan and other minority languages; we have poetry in English, praise, performance, oratorical, and declamatory poetry. Perhaps as many as one in six people writes poetry or takes pleasure from trying to do so.”
Poetry is important in Zimbabwe. During the 39th Poetry International Festival, Poetry International – in collaboration with and supported by Hivos-NCDO Culture Fund– is paying special attention to one of the most talked-about domains on PIW. Despite the political and economic circumstances in the country, each publication in the online magazine is rich in wonderful poets and excellent translations, accompanied by essays and interviews. In response to the question of how a troubled country like Zimbabwe is capable of presenting such a wealth of poetry, country editor Irene Staunton said: ‘The world knows only one window on Zimbabwe: cruelty, violence and corruption. Poetry International Web allows us to open a different window, so the world can also see our culture, our wealth and our poetry.’ During the festival, Poetry International is zooming in on Zimbabwe with a varied programme full of poetry, interviews, performance, music and film, showing the wealth and possibilities of the international website, which reaches far beyond any political border.
We invite you to discover the poetry of Zimbabwe during the 39th Poetry International Festival, on Tuesday June 10th. The event will feature an interview with editor, Irene Staunton. This will be followed by poetry readings by a young poet whose work, according to Irene Staunton, represents ‘a new and powerful voice in the canon of Zimbabwean poetry’, Togara Muzanenhamo. Samm Farai Monro, aka Comrade Fatso, will offer musical and slam-poetry intermezzos, accompanied by the guitarist of his band, Chabvondoka. He characterizes his poetry as ‘Toyi Toyi poetry, urban street poetry that mixes Shona with English, mbira with hip hop, poetry with the struggle to survive.’ Apart from ‘new’ poetry, there will also be PIW exclusives of yet unpublished works by well-known poets, Charles Mungoshi and Julius Chingono, both guests at previous Poetry International Festivals.
During the festival there will be a screening of the low budget movie ‘ZIMBABWE’ by South African filmmaker Darrell James Roodt. The film is described as a painful and topical drama about illegal labour migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa; seen through the eyes of a 19-year-old orphan girl.
Prior to the festival you can find a taster of Zimbabwean poetry on Poetry International. Here you’ll find biographical information, essays and other articles about the poets mentioned above, and, of course, their poetry in its original language and in English translation. The Zimbabwe programme in the Rotterdam City Theatre will be broadcast live on PIW. You will receive regular festival updates via our newsletter.
39th Poetry International Festival Rotterdam, 7-13 June
Tuesday, June 10th, 21.15 hrs, Rotterdam City Theatre
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Excerpt from Goodbye Lucille
‘This highway, where my parents died. They were driving the same way. Look! Look at that man!’ I pointed. A Medusa-haired wanderer meandered along the centre of the road, naked. He carried no belongings. The filthy matted hair that hung down his back and face seemed his only accessory. The driver braked and swerved to avoid him. As we overtook him we could see his skin, painted with dust. His mouth moved rapidly.
Modjaji Books, the exciting new publisher for women in Southern Africa, is inviting submissions for its upcoming short story anthology. We want innovative stories that define the world from a woman’s perspective.
The topic for the anthology is “BED”. What does it mean to you? Memories of cosy bedtime stories, sterile beds in hospitals, or that sexy bed where a lover waits…
You tell us! We’re waiting to hear from you!
Send us your best, unpublished story before 31st July, 2008 to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Modjaji Books check out the website.
1. Stories should be between 3000 and 5000 words.
2. Stories should be unpublished.
3. The story should somehow involve the theme of BED.
4. All entrants must be women and citizens of a Southern African country (countries include: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Moçambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe)
5. Entries should be sent by email only to email@example.com. Send either as Word attachments or in the body of the email.
6. The entry should have page numbers and the title of the story on each page.
7. The following details should be at the end of the story:
- Full name of writer
- Postal address
- Email address
- Telephone number
- Short biography of not more than 300 words
8. Writers of selected stories will receive royalties and five author copies of the book.
9. Confirmation of receipt of story will be sent to all entrants.