This week on Monday Morements, Edward Dzonze Zimbabwean writer and Author, also known as NRS(NamelesRadioStation) talks to Obey Chiyangwa .
NRS :Welcome to Monday Morements Obey. Get us going, who is Obey Chiyangwa?
O.C : I was born Obey Chiyangwa-Ngwasha .I fell in love with books and stories at around the age of nine from my late uncle who used to read Shona stories after supper in the denuded rural setting of Buhera. My parents divorced when I was three months old and I had to settle with my mother’s relatived, the Ngwasha family. Growing up, many were the questions i needed answers to , in search of those answers I became addicted to books of any nature. I am a marketing Professional and Business man but poetry and short stories remain my first love always.
NRS. :What story or chapter have you as a writer come to add onto the literary map?
O.C : I have come to position myself as the writer who must bridge the gap between pure interlectualims and entertainment, education, humour, mental liberation and creativity in the field of writing. I feel that while we have always had and continue to have brilliant writers doing great work, a lot of our writings have tended to sort of alienate the non interlectual reader, listener, audience. My poetry aims to settle more toward prose poetry than the usual brilliant verse that at times has tended to need decoding, hence the aforementioned alienation of readers. I feel that as poets we need to do more to bring our audience on board, we need to coat our works with more appeal and ensure that in the process we have delivered poetry into the homes of all and sundry. As such I have stived to avoid coded poetry as much as possible in my works, of course being careful not to reduce poetry to a few sentences chopped down to look like poetry. Poetry does not need to look like Poetry, it has to sound and read poetic.
NRS : How have been the writing journey so far? Do you see yourself as getting somewhere and if so coming from where exactly?
O.C : Finally I do see myself getting somewhere. Coming straight from the wilderness. I have been writing in isolation for a long time, alone, myself and my imagination, myself and my books, myself and my ambitions not at all exposed to the world. But without publishing any book as yet, I feel now that the exposure I am getting will lead to my claiming that small space I need on the calendar of writing to add my voice to the great works that already abound. I have had great opportunity to mix and mingle with sublime talent such as Elizabeth Taderera, Tanaka Chidora, Edward Dzonze, Mthulisi Sibanda and many others on a platform where we interact on a daily basis sharing our works and dreams and aspirations. This has brought me opportunity for exposure, including this here opportunity to contribute to this blog. So yaaa yes I feel I have somewhat taken off the ground . Definitely the trajectory is not a Journey to Nowhere.
NRS :Talking about your featured poem In Prison , one is tempted to take it literary yet still its one full of metaphors to point to a different prison altogether. What is the poem all about?
O.C : Yes the poem is about the prison and prison life. But this is not a general prison, it is a prison depicting the wider prison, our lives in perpetual imprisonment, a people walking the streets freely but walking wounded, walking sick, walking denuded of morale values, a people walking one of the tightest ropes of oppression ever, well crafted oppression and suppression and subjugation that has left people of this great nation wandering in the nooks and cracks and crevices of the world belwidered and virtual slaves to the system at home. The poem attempts to expose the cruel disparities that exist in the system laid out supposedly for a free nation. It’s a poem in which I want to expose the fact that a people can still be free without being free at all. Freedom and Independence are mere illusions, that what we achieved in the last four decades was a process of removing certain oppressors and replacing them with certain ones. We indegenised our system of oppression. In Prison is a poem that tells the world that we are not a free people at all, contrary to common perception as well as doctored insinuations being carefully paraded around the world.
NRS :Whatelse do you focus on in your writing ?
O.C : I focus on a lot other issues in my writing. I attempt to put the entire world in the plans of my mind and apply the pen to disect the various and many instances that need exposure. I am fascinated by love poetry, protest poertry, death poems, poems centered on the general aspect of happiness ( the world needs joy and happiness, it’s a prelude to goodness and peace and quiet. A happy people is a healthier people than a melancholic people. Sadness can be toxic, but of course it can also be beautiful. I write about religion, praising religion and attempting as well to chastise religious leaders who take advantage of their positions to exploit the generality of people out of their hard earned money as well as their morale values. I really like and enjoy this aspect of my writing that allows me to focus on the Ills of society, I also focus on the aspect of mental health being an issue central to the development or otherwise of society
NRS :Going forward, what do you think ought to be done to revive the Zimbabwean literary sector currently wailing in ICU ?
O.C : The dire situation with writing currently prevalent in the country needs an approach that brings together all the interested parties, but this drive must be put to effect specifically by us writers. This is our bread and our butter issue. We need to work hard, harder than we are currently doing, to clear the road for more literary works to find their way into the inside of books and be made available to the consuming public. We need to engage all relevant authorities so that we break the barriers that are inhibitions to the flourish of literature in general. We also need to be very bold as writers and forget about the pitfalls befalling us or likely to befall us in the process of being writers, especially those involving the sadly ever increasing attempts to gag our pens. In order for this noble institution of writing to keep gaining credence and traction in society, we need to be bold and work together to fight the forces of oppression and make sure that no ink is stopped or avoided from taking it’s position of being the voice of the voiceless. Our ink must be the ink that paints pictures of mental emansipation and liberation.
NRS :Or better still do we have the crop of writers who will rise to the levels where Marechera , Mungoshi, Hove and Zimunya took our literature on the local scene and beyond ?
O.C : Every generation has it’s own icons. If not then we have a role to play in creating them. Marechera’s writing gloves are too many sizes too big for many of us, but yes, we have writers abound who can scale those heights in their own way. I am awed to merely think about these illustrous writers and the work they did, but I believe we must use them as beacons of inspiration in our quest to take our own work to those higher levels. There is a lot of talent in this great nation and all attempts should and must continue to be made to focus on unraveling this talent. We cannot aim to produce another Marechera, another Vera, another Have, another Mungoshi, yet another Mungoshi, to replicate Dangarebgwa or Cheru or Chidora or Dzonze or Musengezi or Chirere, or Mabasa, but we must always use these and other writers departed and here with us as benchmarks and guiding lights in our continued attempts to either write better or help those in the field produce good works. We cannot afford to shame the good works done by these illustrous writers.
NRS :Zimbabwean authors seem to be making less impact on the global market .What can you attribute this to and maybe what could be the way around this embargo?
O.C : As Zimbabweans in the field of writing we need to continue to take note of changes and alterations in the field and do our own work to follow suite. Not in the manner of copying and pasting of course. But in the manner of using our own creative abilities to remain at par with global trends in writing. For instance the digitalisation of works of art. We need to embrace this as we are way behind the global trends hence it’s taking too long or rather almost forever for our works to impact world stage. The world keeps moving on while we seem to remain almost static.
NRS : In your own perspective, what burden is there for an individual writer to promote a reading culture among readers of all ages?
O.C : The attempt to promote a reading culture is directly linked with how we write and how we must write. Writing being an aspect of creativity, it therefore becomes very difficult for anyone to stand and attempt to ascribe how Zimbabweans must write, but it is upon us as Writers to make sure that we have made our works as attractive as possible and offer them as an alternative for entertainment and education to the reading public. In this way I am sure we can awaken a lot more interest and hence improve the commercial aspect of writing as well as improve the reading culture in our country.
NRS : Whats brewing in your pot.What can we expect from Obey?
O.C : Readers out there must expect my first ever compact publication in form of a book that combines poetry and short stories. The title of the book is tentatively The Powers Of Imagination. I have been working in this for a while now and I am now at the stage of involving those critical organisations and individuals responsible for taking work away from Writers and working in it to become more polished work.
NRS: How can the reader connect with Obey and his tasty poetry
O.C : Obey Chiyangwa can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
*263 777980010 ( whats app only) and I am free to converse with anyone for the love of books and the promotion of both writing and reading.