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Without literature, people die – Phillip Chidavaenzi

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Literature provides a platform for self-expression and for the display of artistic abilities in the same way that it helps people to reveal their expectations and narrate the realities of their lives in a given community.

In a poetry anthology titled General Emeritus – Wisdom, Mysteries and Dark Sayings, there is a poem titled General Emeritus, the Ambassador of Literature. In this poem there is a stanza that says:

Even though literature is as old as far back as life can be traced

Its impact is always as fresh as the morning of everyday

Literature is an art, literature is an invention, and literature is creation

Literature is reason showcased, literature is emotion expressed.

On that note, in celebrating and appreciating the role and impact of literature in our society, zwnews24’s Brian Kazungu caught up and did an interview with one of Zimbabwe’s award winning and passionate author Phillip Chidavaenzi who is also promoting literature through his Writers Clinic in order to understand more about his inspiring writing career.

Zwnews24: Briefly describe yourself (background, personality, passions, dreams and aspirations etc.) so that the readers (audience) can have a clear picture of who you are, and what you stand for as a writer/blogger/author etc.

Phillip Chidavaenzi: My background in writing is quite long and rich. I have always been in love with words from the time I was first able to read. From an early age, I was exposed to a lot of literature, and that ingrained in me the love for reading and writing. But my first serious attempts at writing were in high school from the early to the late 1990s, during which time I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories.

Zwnews24: What is your greatest reason and or motivation behind your writing career? What do you seek to achieve and why? If you have already published anything both in print or online, do you think you have achieved your goal or do you see yourself achieving those goals through your literary work?

Phillip Chidavaenzi: All I desire to do is to tell a good story that will move people and can stir the readers’ emotions — be it joy, sadness or shock. At the end of the day, I want to deliver certain important life lessons through writing. As long as one person reads my book and say to me, “Thank you… I loved that story… It made me cry… It really touched me’, then I would have achieved my goal.  

Zwnews24: What has been the impact of your writing career on the people around you, including family and friends?

Phillip Chidavaenzi: My family believes in my writing more than anybody else. But it’s actually funny that all this started with English Compositions when I was in Form 3. A friend wrote a short story and it so touched me that I said, I think I can do that, and so I started off writing short stories from there. Ironically, I have not done a short story collection, but only novels and some spiritual texts.

Zwnews24: What are the titles of the books that you have written so far? Would you describe what each of these books is all about and the intended benefit of each of these books to your audience? 

Phillip Chidavaenzi: I would need acres and acres of space to do this because I write voluminous novels, by Zimbabwean standards, that is. My novels are The Haunted Trail (2006), The Ties that Bind (2015), The Latter Rain (2016) and Chasing the Wind (2019). End of this year, I will release Sword in the Wilderness, which is almost complete now. I have also written Christian texts: Walking in the Spirit, The Gospel of Grace, Give Me Souls or I Die, and I Am Prayer. All these are about how to live a victorious Christian life as a new creation and how to fulfil certain objectives of the gospel and exercising spiritual disciplines.

The Haunted Trail is an HIV related story that also included the meltdown in the financial services sector during the time of Gideon Gono, the then Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The Ties that Bind is its sequel, exploring how individuals can go on with life even after testing HIV positive while Chasing the Wind is about living in faith, sexual abuse and the struggle to forgive. The Latter Rain is about two teenage girls who flee their Mt. Darwin village in search of a better life in Harare, but experienced mixed fortunes. One ends up dead 10 years later after committing suicide while the other one pursues a life of faith.  

Zwnews24: If people want to buy your books or invest in your work, where can they find the books and how do they get in touch with you either for feedback on your work or any other related correspondence?

Phillip Chidavaenzi: They can link up with me on social media, through my author page on Facebook: Phillip Kundeni Chidavaenzi and even on the Royalty Books page. I am also on whatsapp at +2637719952851. More so, I have a blog called A Writers Scroll at http://philchida.blogspot.com/

Zwnews24: What are your guiding values which determine what and how you write? Are there things that you do not write about at all or is there a certain approach to writing which you do not use because of these values? Share your insights. 

Phillip Chidavaenzi: Tricky, tricky, tricky! I am wildly creative, I must say. I write about the abuse of women, I do a bit of romance and I also write about people’s struggles to survive against difficult odds… For some reason, all these things tend to creep in when I write. Of course, I wouldn’t write anything that goes against my faith and beliefs as a Christian. A reader once described me as a feminist writer, can you imagine! Well, I don’t think I am a feminist writer. Perhaps, I can just say I have a strong inclination towards women’s issues. 

Zwnews24: What has been the impact of your writing so far, both to you and to your readers and how has it made you feel? 

Phillip Chidavaenzi: I am always excited about my writing, obviously. Those readers that are personally known to me, I believe my writings have had a profound impact on them. In fact, I have received quite a number of messages from some youngsters that are doing my second novel, The Ties that Bind, at A-Level. I think they have really enjoyed the book and it has impacted them in a positive way. 

Zwnews24: What is it that makes you to continue writing regardless of the various challenges that are associated with this profession or undertaking? How do you overcome the related hurdles?

Phillip Chidavaenzi: Writing is first and foremost a passion, it’s compelling and obsessive. Whether I sell a thousand or just ten copies of a novel, I will not stop writing. When I started writing, I wasn’t thinking about money. I just loved to write, and I did. It’s still the same. When the money comes, we thank God, but if it doesn’t, no problem. Of course there are a lot of challenges. The production of hard copy books is expensive, but we just take the small step, print a few books here, a few more next month and so on.

Zwnews24: What are your words of advice and motivation to other writers, both the established and aspiring ones in their pursuit of literature, either as their hobby or profession?

Phillip Chidavaenzi: My heart bleeds because too few writers, novelists in particular, are producing. The spell is just too dry. Charles Mungoshi is gone, and the likes of Shimmer Chinodya are no longer producing as much. Where is the new crop of creative writers? I think we are too slow on the ball, and as such, the output in terms of new publications is very slow. I know we are going through a dark spell economically, but let us not allow that to hinder our creativity.  

Zwnews24: What do you think is the relevance and impact of literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world? Do you think literature should be recognised, celebrated and be promoted? Share your reasons.

Phillip Chidavaenzi: Definitely! Definitely! Without literature, people die. Literature enables us, more than anything else, to capture moments, history and developments in a country from the human perspective. The ordinary man or woman might not get a chance to speak, let’s say: through a newspaper. So, let us give them a voice through literature, by telling their stories for future generations.

Zwnews24: How deep is your passion for literature? What have you already done, what are you planning to do and how far would you go to promote literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world?

Phillip Chidavaenzi: It’s virtually my life! Of the books that I have written, one got an award, and the other two got nominated for awards. In fact, through our Writers Clinic platform and Royalty Books publishing company, we are promoting literature.

Zwnews24: Have you ever won an award or have you ever been nominated for an award on your literary work? If yes, please share your story about this award and the impact it had on you.

Phillip Chidavaenzi: My debut novel, The Haunted Trail, won the First Outstanding Published Creative Work award at the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) in 2007. The Ties that Bind and the Later Rain were nominated for the Outstanding Fiction award at NAMA 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Zwnews24: If there was or if there is a Global Literature Ambassador Award, who would you nominate for the prize and more so, based on your own works of literature, do you think that you would be able to win a prize for your literary contributions? How would you feel if you were to be locally, nationally or globally recognised for your input in the field of literature?

Phillip Chidavaenzi: I have no idea who I would nominate. There are too many authors doing great work across the world. I think I am still a little green for an award of that magnitude.

Zwnews24: What has been some of the best works of literature that you have enjoyed so far (Books, blogs, poems etc.)? Share the reasons why you rate them so high and value them so much. Based on what you have benefited personally, what do you think must be done in order to broadly develop, promote and celebrate literature in your community, country or across the world?

Phillip Chidavaenzi: I have read thousands and thousands of literary works. Off head, I guess I would say Jack Hoffenberg’s Reaping in Tears, Beauty, and The Bottom-line etc. They are just too numerous to mention. These are excellently crafted works. 

Zwnews24: Are there people or organisations that you would like to acknowledge and credit, be it for their emotional and material input or contribution (support) towards your works of literature? 

Phillip Chidavaenzi: I would say the Culture Fund in Zimbabwe, which funded a lot of arts and cultural products and activities, including my own, The Ties that Bind and then of course, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe for celebrating outstanding artists and artistic works.

The questions in this interview are adapted from the book, General Emeritus – Wisdom, Mysteries and Dark Sayings, a poetry anthology written by Brian Kazungu: https://amzn.to/2T8sEQX

Author Interviews

Audrey’s Novel, Life Will Humble You, Gives a Taste of Healing Love to Broken Hearts

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The novel, Life Will Humble You, written by Audrey Chirenje is a touching and yet beautiful story of the miraculous healing love that mends broken hearts in the journey of life.

With Riko and Ronda as the main characters who fall in love under the most unlikely of circumstances, Audrey’s imaginative and rare storytelling ability keeps you under suspense as she unpacks surprise after surprise in her narration of love and hope that conquers pain.

Even though the main plot is centered around Harare, in Zimbabwe, the gripping story takes you to many places including South Africa, Kenya, the UK, and Canada among other countries as you get introduced to these love birds past as well as to their friends and relatives.

As you read through, you will be drawn by some glitters of opulence that sparkles in the lives of some rich folks in the same way that you will also have a glimpse of power struggles in our society and the trapping jealous of an ex-lover that sets in when you find new love.

The beauty of a loving and supporting family during the time that one goes through a rough patch in life is also well depicted in this gripping story, as the writer, fuses both the high and the lows of life in a way that helps readers to look at life from different angles.

In the interview below, zwnews24’s Brian Kazungu talked to Audrey about her book and other projects that she is working on.

Zwnews24: Would you briefly describe yourself? Your personality, ambitions, and inspiration.

Audrey:  I am a very chilled goal-getter whose inspiration comes from people around me and even from my own life though I have been labeled as weird and a structured introvert.

Zwnews24: What is the motivation behind your writing career? 

Audrey: I seek to motivate and encourage people out there that we might have erred according to the set norms but I believe that you may fall seven times and yet still rise again. As such, through my writing, I am motivated by the need to let people know that they must not give up on their dreams, since if they hold on and plan again, ultimately their dreams will come to pass.

Zwnews24: When and how did you start writing and what has been the impact of that move on you and on the people around you, including family and friends? 

Audrey: I started dabbling with writing in High School. A few years back, I had two incomplete projects. This novel, Life Will Humble You, I wrote it July 2019 and it’s soon coming spin-off which I started in August 2019. Writing has had a tremendous impact on me. It has been very inspiring to both me and those around me since others now want to write and I am cheering them on. 

Zwnews24: What do you seek to achieve through what you write and why? 

Audrey: Through literature, I want to help and encourage people to know that the sun will always shine despite the storms. In short, I want to instill hope in people everywhere I go.

Zwnews24: Your novel, Life Will Humble You is a beautiful and intriguing love story full of suspense and surprises. What is it that inspired the story and how did you imagine all those characters and places which form such a gripping romantic tale?

Audrey: Well, firstly I am a hopeless romantic at heart, and then I looked at topical issues being faced by people in our society and then I came up with tainted leading characters who then find solace in each other. With their own minds, they would have passed up the opportunity, but I imagined God directing their steps despite the numerous hurdles they face. Ultimately my concept of faith-ever-after prevails. 

Zwnews24: The title of your novel is really very engaging. What is the motivation behind this title? For example, from the title alone, what message did you want to convey to anybody who would see the book in a bookshop or in the hands of somebody else? 

Audrey: Somehow, we seem to all experience this phenomenon where you have all your ducks in a row and you are thinking that all will work out as planned, but boom, it doesn’t. That’s the moment when life humbles you, but thereafter you become a better person, less judgemental and more empathic since you now know that sometimes you don’t control everything. What then matters is your reaction to circumstances, and then you move on.

Zwnews24: Are there any other novels or books that your readers should look forward to soon? If yes, would you tell us a little bit about what your new work is about?

Audrey: I have a book ready which is a spin-off to Life Will Humble You, whose main characters are Ropa who is Riko’s sister and Agent Raphael. If you read Life Will Humble You, you will remember that I did give them extra attention as I had already outlined their story. We will begin the publishing work with my Publisher in May 2020. I am working on my 3rd book now, and let’s just say, in this one, my angle is on appearances and class societies and the impact thereof through the story of Farai and Margot. I will publish this one before the end of the year, plus I also have other story outlines on standby which only needs some flesh.

Zwnews24: If people want to buy your books or invest in your work, where can they find the books and how do they get in touch with you either for feedback on your work or any other related correspondence?

Audrey: For now, they can get the Life Will Humble You from Best Books, Three Anchor House, Jason Moyo Avenue, in Harare as well as from some selected Innov8 Bookshops. People can also find the same online either as paperback or eBook on Amazon. My twitter is @anchirenjethe, Facebook: A.N. Chirenje The Author, Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/audreychirenje.

Zwnews24: What are your guiding values which determine what and how you write? Are there things that you do not write about at all or is there a certain approach to writing which you do not use because of these values? 

Audrey: I try to watch my language because I have kids who also read my books.  I am also trying to keep it at the Parental Guide age of 13 years. More so, I am a believer who is also a realist and that has an effect on the content in my writing.

Zwnews24: How did you feel when you got published for the first time and what has been the effect of that moment on your writing career now? 

Audrey: It still feels surreal up to now. I am grateful to God for the support of family and friends. It has encouraged me to keep writing. The feedback I get is like the air under my wings, it’s encouraging me to soar to higher levels. 

Zwnews24: What has been some of the most cherished and memorable feedback that you have received from your readers so far and how has it impacted you in your pursuit of literature, either as a profession or as a hobby? Please share some of the priceless feedback that you received from your readers.

Audrey: I had one lady who sent me pictures of her engagement and she captioned it #MyRikoProposedScars&All#. That was awesome. Another lady also shared how she never knew how people feel when they have been cheated on up until she read about Ronda’s ordeal. I also get priceless about my writing style which most people are saying that they are really in love with it and that has encouraged me as I wasn’t sure that people would embrace it.

Zwnews24: What are some of the challenges that you face or that you faced in your writing and what is it that makes you continue writing regardless of these challenges?

Audrey: Challenges will always be there and these include time, finances and negative perceptions from people. What will make me continue is the positive impact that the stories which I write are making on people? That on its own is priceless.

Zwnews24: What are your words of advice and motivation to other writers, both established and aspiring ones in their pursuit of literature, either as their hobby or profession?

Audrey: As my Publisher from Royalty Books, Phillip Chidavaenzi says “we have to just keep writing”. So start today with whatever you have in your hands, a page a day. Nike says do it NOW, so just do it!

Zwnews24: What do you think is the relevance and impact of literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world? Do you think literature should be recognized, celebrated and be promoted? Share your reasons.

Audrey: Literature shapes norms and values and as such it has to be recognized and be promoted. When literature is well embraced, it makes this world a better place.

Zwnews24: What have been some of the best works of literature that you have enjoyed so far (books, blogs, poems, etc.)? 

Audrey: Internationally, I like all Jackie Collins books, Maya Angelo – Still I Rise poem and Dudu Busani-Dube based in South Africa. Locally, I am in awe of a lot of Writers, Shimmer Chinodya, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Valerie Tagwira and Philip Chidavanezi.

Zwnews24: Are there people or organisations that you would like to acknowledge and credit, be it for their emotional and material input or contribution (support) towards your works of literature? 

Audrey: My friends, family and fellow Church members and The Writers Clinic. 

The questions in this interview are adapted from the book, General Emeritus – Wisdom, Mysteries and Dark Sayings, a poetry anthology written by Brian Kazungu: https://amzn.to/2T8sEQX

Audrey’s Novel, Life Will Humble You, Gives a Taste of Healing Love to Broken Hearts

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Author Interviews

Gehena Harina Moto Script Writer Says He Wants His Writing To Be The Mouthpiece Of The Oppressed

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Johannes Mike Mupisa, the script writer for the movie, Gehena Harina Moto, featuring song bird Pah Chihera, veteran actress Patience Musa as well as Mutare based singers Flotboi and Lisa Afonso, says he wants his writing to be the mouthpiece of the oppressed.

Described by fellow writer Chenjerai Mhondera as the new Hamutyinei, the 31 year old writer from Mwenezi in Masvingo says that his work dwells on women abuse and social ills perpetrated either by politicians or other people of influence in society.

An Archaeology graduate from Midlands State University (MSU), Johannes who has so far co-authored several poetry anthologies, history textbooks and a novel titled Shukukuviri is also looking forward to engage in poetry showcases and seminars to assist aspiring writers.

zwnews24’s Brian Kazungu talked to Johannes about his inspiration, experiences and wishes concerning the world of literature.

zwnews24: Briefly describe yourself  so that your readers can understand you and your work better.

Johannes: I am a 31 year old male writer from Mwenezi in Masvingo. Writing has always been part and parcel of my life since my school days at Gampu Primary School in Bulawayo. I remember, we would compete to write compositions from as early as Grade Six. My secondary school days at Guiding Star High were dormant in terms of writing, only to reignite the flame when I was at Midlands State University where I was studying for a B.A (Hons) Degree in Archaeology. I have always wanted to make writing a communication platform where I express how I view the world.

zwnews24: What is the motivation behind your writing career? What do you seek to achieve and why?

Johannes: I want my writing to stand as the mouth piece of the oppressed. I wish to publish books that will receive international recognition at the same time promoting the cultural norms and values of being African. I haven’t reached these goals as a writer but I feel I will. The voice of the oppressed cannot be suppressed and the African culture cannot be eroded.

zwnews24: When and how did you start writing and what has been the impact of that move on you and on the people around you, including family and friends?

Johannes: I started writing and being inspired to write by the creative books that I read at a very tender age. In primary school, I read Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew detective novels. That inspired me to write stories. I tried to write back then and ended up piling up manuscripts that I would eventually lose within a short time. Writing has made me to lose some of my friends who think I have a mental disorder due to my writing obsession.

zwnews24: What are the titles of the books that you have written so far?

Johannes: So far I have been published in numerous poetry anthologies in my native language, Shona:

Nhava Yenduri(2015) published by Roots Press, Khuluma Izwi/Taura Izwi/ Speak a Word by Secondary Book Publishers – A Starbrite Finalists Anthology (2017), Best New African Poets (2018) – Mwanaka Publishing, Gwatakwata Renhetembo (Secondary Book Press)(ZJC New Curriculum Poetry Set book 2017-2019), Mupakwa Werwendo – Progressive Publishers 2018, Chitungwiza – Musha Mukuru (Mwanaka Publishers 2020), Mukoko Wenduri – Royal Press (2019)

In these anthologies, my poetry dwells on women abuse, the cries of a girl child, and I also lambast social ills perpetrated either by politicians or by influential people in society.

Apart from these anthologies, I published a novel with Pearl Press Media titled Shukukuviri. It is a novel which dwells on the aspects of the heart. It is about the pursuit of romance even in instances where individuals are not welcome.

I also co-authored the following academic textbooks with Secondary Book Publishers:

A Practical Approach to Heritage Studies, Book 4.

A Practical Approach to History Studies, Book 2

The academic texts are streamlined to the new curriculum requirements aimed at nurturing pride and a sense of belonging to an African child.

I also wrote a script for a movie titled Gehena Harina Moto produced by a Masvingo based film production company Don Claude Entertainment. The film features song bird Pah Chihera, veteran actress Patience Musa, Mutare based muscians Flotboi and Lisa Afonso. It is available on https://youtu.be/6JUJ3S4nrbA

zwnews24: If people want to buy your books or invest in your work, where can they find the books and how do they get in touch with you either for feedback on your work or for any other related correspondence?

Johannes: All the books that I published with various publishing companies can be acquired through the respective publishers mentioned above. For the novel, Shukukuviri, readers need to get in touch with me on my cell 0775125488 since I am doing a Print on Demand approach due to soaring printing costs.

zwnews24: What are your guiding values which determine what and how you write? Are there things that you do not write about at all or is there a certain approach to writing which you do not use because of these values? Share your insights.

Johannes: I don’t have particular guiding values when it comes to writing. I just listen to the voice within me and then I translate that voice into written words. I feel that writing, especially fiction, does not have to be planned, since it is just the voice within that dictates. As for me, listening to that voice is what gets the best out of a writer.

zwnews24: How did you feel when you got published for the first time and what has been the effect of that moment on your writing career now?

Johannes: When I first got published, I was thrilled but at the same time a bit disappointed since the company that edited our anthology did not do a proper job. However that disappointment gave me the urge to want to network with more seasoned writers like Tinashe Muchuri who was later to become the editor of my debut novel Shukukuviri. I hooked up with other writers on the Writer’s International Network platform from whom I have learnt a lot. I also joined Phillip Chidavaenzi’s Writers Clinic from where I learnt that writing requires patience and much dedication in order to master perfection.

zwnews24: What has been some of the most cherished and memorable feedback that you have received from your readers so far and how has it impacted you in your pursuit of literature, either as a profession or as a hobby?

Johannes: My editor, Tinashe Muchuri once remarked “You are one of the most promising Shona writers to emerge from Masvingo.”

Chenjerai Mhondera, a fellow writer reviewing Shukukuviri said, “After reading Shukukuviri, I believe that another Hamutyinei has been born.”

Such feedback has motivated me to write more. That is why I have hordes of manuscripts lined up for publishing.

zwnews24: What are some of the challenges that you face in your writing and what is it that makes you to continue writing regardless of these challenges?

Johannes: The challenge to writing in Zimbabwe is piracy and very high publishing costs. That is the reason why at times, we are tempted to go the self-publishing route. However, even self-publishing is also expensive if you are to hire a good editor who ensures a quality product to your readers. Regardless of all that, I continue writing with the hope that one day the economic turmoil in our country will be history and all the piracy will be gone and that publishing and printing charges will consequently come down.

zwnews24: What are your words of advice and motivation to other writers, both established and aspiring ones in their pursuit of literature, either as a hobby or profession?

Johannes: My advice to established writers is to give the upcoming writers a chance. To upcoming writers, I would want to say, speed spoils. Don’t rush to publish material before you are satisfied that it is ready for the market.

zwnews24: What do you think is the relevance and impact of literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world? Do you think literature should be recognized, celebrated and be promoted?

Johannes: Literature is one of the avenues of entertainment in any country. These days’ people are reading books that are being shared on various social media platforms online. The impact of such a reading frenzy cannot be ignored although some of the stuff contains some misleading erotic stories which may be harmful to young people. However, there has also been some very good content which is changing lives especially from writers such Rutendo Lovely Nzira, Dr T.M and Ivy Kwaramba among others.

zwnews24: How deep is your passion for literature? What have you already done, what are you planning to do and how far would you go to promote literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world?

Johannes: In Masvingo, I have brought together upcoming poets for a poetry anthology titled Poetry is Life/Nduri Upenyu to be published in the near future. It consists of Masvingo based renowned stage poets Ngoni Paradza Hova, General Fire Collosso and Abel Mauchi. Resources permitting, I would want to engage in community poetry showcases and seminars to assist aspiring writers on where to take their manuscripts and how to develop themselves into reputable writers.

zwnews24: Is there a person, group of people or organization that you know which is helping to develop and promote literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world? Who are they and what is it specifically that they are doing in this context and how is it inspiring you and positively impacting individuals and communities?

Johannes: Organisations that I know of that assist writers and have also assisted me to get to where I am include the Writers Clinic administrated Pastor Phillip Chidavaenzi and the Writers International Network under Beaven Tapureta. These organisations have social platforms that take writers through writing tips and processes.

zwnews24: What has been some of the best works of literature that you have enjoyed so far (Books, blogs, poems etc.)?

Johannes: Sidney Sheldon has it all. He is one of the best writers indeed. Every literature enthusiast has read something from Sidney Sheldon. Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline is quite a pulsating read that will force you to your reading chair.

zwnews24: If you were to give awards in literature, what would be your prizes and the related criteria for selecting recipients and awarding such rewards?

Johannes: If I was to give prizes for literature, I would give writers bursaries to partake in writing and publishing studies.

zwnews24: Are there people or organisations that you would like to acknowledge and credit, be it for their emotional and material input or contribution (support) towards your works of literature?

Johannes: People who have really been there for me are the Zimbabwe Online Writers Association, a brain child of Canada based social worker Sheila Chimuzinga-Charamba. Writers on that platform, notably Tsevetana Dhliwayo, Emmanuel Dhliwayo, Emmanuel Magaisa and Prosper Njeke have always encouraged me to keep my head up and to focus on the future. This wouldn’t be enough without mentioning Writers International Network members such as Oscar Gwiriri, Tinashe Muchuri, Lazarus Sauti and others.

The questions in this interview are adapted from the book, General Emeritus – Wisdom, Mysteries and Dark Sayings, a poetry anthology written by Brian Kazungu: https://amzn.to/2T8sEQX

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Literature Gives Power To The Powerless, Voice To The Voiceless And It Nurtures Democracy – Lazarus Sauti

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Award winning journalist and 2017 National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) nominee, author, Lazarus Sauti has encouraged people to use the power of the pen to fight social ills in the country.

The literature passionate scribe who loves writing books in his vernacular, Shona language, in documenting the Zimbabwean culture, said that the pen is mightier than the sword since it gives power to the powerless and voice to voiceless.

Sauti, whose work, according to book publisher and award-winning writer Phillip Chidavaenzi, is a series of questions around issues that vex humanity and which demand answers, said literature should be recognised, celebrated and be promoted since it provides checks and balances in a representative democracy.

zwnews24’s Brian Kazungu had an interview with Lazarus, author of the book ‘Nei?’, which is a collection of poems and short stories in order to understand more about his personality and writing career.

Zwnews24: Briefly describe yourself (background, personality, passions, dreams and aspirations etc.) so that the readers (audience) can have a clear picture of who you are and what you stand for in life?

Lazarus Sauti: My name is Lazarus Sauti. I am an award-winning journalist, journalism lecturer, communications and advocacy practitioner, as well as a published poet and short story writer. I love writing in ChiShona. The whole idea is to promote my culture, my mother language. Remember, language is a carrier of culture. 

Zwnews24: What is the motivation behind your writing career? What do you seek to achieve and why? If you have already published anything both in print or online, do you think you have achieved your goal or do you see yourself achieving those goals through your literary work?

Lazarus Sauti: My motivation is to paint images using words – to tell beautiful stories to Zimbabweans. I think I have achieved my goal through my first published book ‘Nei?’ which is a collection of poems and short stories in ChiShona. 

Zwnews24: When and how did you start writing and what has been the impact of that move on you and on the people around you, including family and friends?

Lazarus Sauti: I used to write beautiful Shona compositions at school. Even though I started writing at High School, I perfected my craft during my University days. Zwnews24: What are the titles of the books that you have written so far? Would you describe what each of these books is all about and the intended benefit of each of these books to your audience?

Lazarus Sauti: My first book is titled ‘Nei?’ it is a collection of Shona poems and short stories. The book, according to a respected editor and award-winning writer Phillip Chidavaenzi, is a series of questions around issues that vex humanity and which demand answers.  

Zwnews24: If people want to buy your books or invest in your work, where can they find the books and how do they get in touch with you either for feedback on your work or any other related correspondence? 

Lazarus Sauti: The book is available at Art Gallery Bookshop in Harare. People can link with me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp: +263717052365 and even on my blog: www.lazarussauti.wordpress.com

Zwnews24: What are your guiding values which determine what and how you write? Are there things that you do not write about at all or is there a certain approach to writing which you do not use because of these values? Share your insights. 

Lazarus Sauti: Eish! I write about culture, life, love, hate, corruption, friendship, relationships, human rights, and deaths. 

Zwnews24: How did you feel when you got published for the first time and what has been the effect of that moment on your writing career now? 

Lazarus Sauti: All I can say is ‘AWESOME’.

Zwnews24: What has been some of the most cherished and memorable feedback that you have received from your readers so far and how has it impacted you in your pursuit of literature, either as a profession or as a hobby? Please share some of the priceless feedback that you received from your readers.

Lazarus Sauti: Sauti’s debut anthology is like a ‘seasoning salt’ (Beaven Tapureta – journalist, editor, and book reviewer); Sauti’s poetry speaks to Africa (Shingirai Mutonho, book reviewer – The Patriot); Lazarus Sauti is onto something huge (Phillip Chidavaenzi – editor, literary critic, and writer); and Lazarus Sauti: new kid on the block (Tanaka Chidora – literary critic, editor, and writer). Chidora also said, “With ‘Nei?’, Sauti has shown us that the potential is there and I am placing my bet on him to contribute immensely to what we have come to regard as Zimbabwean literature.” Because of this feedback, I am motivated to pursue literature as a profession. 

Zwnews24: What are some of the challenges that you face in your writing and what is it that makes you to continue writing regardless of these challenges?

Lazarus Sauti: Book publishing is expensive in Zimbabwe. Zvakafanana nekuroora (it’s like paying lobola). Kkkkkkk. Nevertheless, writing is in me; it is my passion; I write to document the Zimbabwean culture. 

Zwnews24: What are your words of advice and motivation to other writers, both the established and aspiring ones in their pursuit of literature, either as their hobby or profession?

Lazarus Sauti: Ngatinyorei ndapota (Lets write please). Let’s use the power of the pen to fight social ills in our communities. Remember, the pen is mightier that the sword.  

Zwnews24: What do you think is the relevance and impact of literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world? Do you think literature should be recognized, celebrated and be promoted? Share your reasons.

Lazarus Sauti: Literature gives power to the powerless; it gives voice to the voiceless. Literature nurtures democracy, meaning that it provides checks and balances in a representative democracy. Accordingly, it should be recognised, celebrated, and promoted. 

Zwnews24: How deep is your passion for literature? What have you already done, what are you planning to do and how far would you go to promote literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world?

Lazarus Sauti: That which runs under my skin is not blood but literature. My passion for literature is skin deep. I am always encouraging friends and fellow writers to write, write, and write. By so doing, I am promoting literature in this country.  

Zwnews24: Besides writers, who are the other active players that you can think of in the field of literature? In that regard, is there a person, group of people or organization that you know which is helping to develop and promote literature in your community, in your country or across the whole world? Who are they and what is it specifically that they are doing in this context and how is it inspiring you and positively impacting individuals and communities?

Lazarus Sauti: The media are active in promoting literature in Zimbabwe. A big shout out to book reviewers; please keep the fire burning. Stan Mushava is doing a splendid job of promoting literature in Zimbabwe. He is so passionate about literature. Phillip Chidavaenzi, through his Writers Clinic is also helping to develop and promote literature in the country. I am a proud product of the Writers Clinic. Hallelujah.   

Zwnews24: Have you ever won an award or have you ever been nominated for an award on your literary work? If yes, please share your story about this award and the impact it had on you.

Lazarus Sauti: ‘Nei?’ was nominated for a National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) in 2017. The Library of Congress bought 13 copies of the book thanks to this nomination. 

Zwnews24: What has been some of the best works of literature that you have enjoyed so far (Books, blogs, poems etc.)? Share the reasons why you rate them so high and value them so much. Based on what you have benefited personally, what do you think must be done in order to broadly develop, promote and celebrate literature in your community, country or across the world?

Lazarus Sauti: I really enjoyed ‘Chibarabada’ (Tinashe Muchuri), ‘A Fine Madness’ (Mashingaidze Gomo), ‘Letters From Beyond’ (Prudence Natsai Muganiwah-Zvavanjanja), ‘Mbona mbona’ and ‘Not In Zimbabwe’ (Milton Chitsime), ‘Death of the Commissar’ (Tichaona Zindoga), ‘Bleeding Hearts’ (Tendai Makaripe), ‘Rhyme and Resistance’ (Stan Mushava), ‘Conscience of My Race’ (Elias Mambo), ‘Hakurarwi’ (Chirikure Chirikure, ‘Bhuku Risina Basa Nekuti Rakanyorwa Masikati’ (Memory Chirere), and all books by Phillip Kundeni Chidavaenzi. I rate these books so highly because of the styles used. The stories flow. Oh, by the way, I am dangerously waiting for ‘Because Sadness is Beautiful’ (Tanaka Chidora).  

Zwnews24: Do you know of anybody who is making a good living from their works of literature? If so, what do you think is making them to stand out in this regard? Do you know of platforms, individuals or organizations that help writers to earn a living from their work? Write them down and share the information with others. Do you know of any books and poems that have been turned into movies and songs at a fee? Which ones are they and how much has been paid for such work?

Lazarus Sauti: I think Petina Gappah is making a good living from her works of literature. She is a model professional writer. 

Zwnews24: What are some of the local, national, regional and international literature awards that you know of and what do they seek to reward or promote? What is your take on their criteria? If you were to give awards in literature, what would be your prizes and the related criteria for selecting recipients and awarding such rewards?

Lazarus Sauti: Locally, NAMA Literary Awards. They seek to promote or reward outstanding literary works. 

Zwnews24: Are there people or organisations that you would like to acknowledge and credit, be it for their emotional and material input or contribution (support) towards your works of literature?

Lazarus Sauti: My family is always there for me. My wife, Precious Santana is my first editor. Best Mukundi Masinire and Tendai Makaripe always encourage me to up my game. Oscar Gwiriri, Tinashe Muchuri, Simbarashe Namusi, Esau Souza, Devilliers Mushiringi, Gideon Madzikatidze, Russel Kwezekani, Stan Mushava, Propser Njeke, Itai Muroyi, Peter Tinashe Kaviya, and Andrew Kunambura also encourage me towards my works of literature. Thank you team. 
The questions in this interview are adapted from the book, General Emeritus – Wisdom, Mysteries and Dark Sayings, a poetry anthology written by Brian Kazungu: https://amzn.to/2T8sEQX

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