Sunday, 31 May 2009

Is David Cameron a Hypocrite?

It sure seems like he is, according to the report by Glen Owen. Here is what Owen says; "David Cameron was dragged personally into the expenses row last night after it was revealed that he paid off a loan on his London home shortly after taking out a £350,000 taxpayer-funded mortgage on his constituency house.

The disclosure followed a powerful call by the Tory leader yesterday for the ‘full force of the law’ to be deployed against MPs who have abused allowances.

Following a Mail on Sunday investigation Mr Cameron could now face searching questions about his own expense claims

The rest of Beltway Dave's curious story is right here.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Beater Mangethe and Super Alick Macheso

Iri tinoriti dapurahunanzva;

Cheso Power - Mafaro Lyrics (to the best of my abilities - others feel free to make corrections)

Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye ndiri kufara ini
Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye ndiri kufara ini

Kumafaro kwakanakira kufadza nyama nepfungwa
Unowona zvakawanda munguva imwe chete-o
Uchinzwa zviningiswa zvimwe zvinodziva nzeve-e
Unowona zvakawanda zvinoyevedza meso nepfungwa
Kurudziro iyi yekufadza ropa zvikuruse-i mashoko-o

Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye ndiri kufara ini

Kumafaro kwakanakira kufadza nyama nepfungwa
Unowona zvakawanda munguva imwe chete-o
Uchinzwa zvizhinjiswa zvinodziva nzeve-e
Unowona zvakawanda zvinoyevedza meso nepfungwa
Kurudziro iri yekufadza ropa zvikuru sei-i mashoko-o

Kumafaro kwakanakira kufadza nyama nepfungwa
Unowona zvakawanda munguva imwe chete-o
Uchinzwa zvizhinjiswa zvinodziva nzeve-e
Unowona zvakawanda zvinoyevedza meso nepfungwa
Kurudziro iri yekufadza ropa zvikuru sei-i mashoko-o
Zvukuru sei mashoko

Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye tiri kufara isu
Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye tiri kufara isu
Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye tiri kufara isu

Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye tiri kufara isu
Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye tiri kufara isu
Aye ye ye ye ye ye ye tiri kufara isu

Friday, 15 May 2009

A Response to Sigauke's Questionnaire

Over at Sigauke’s blog, there is a curious questionnaire that is interesting. Below, I have tried to respond to as many of the questions as I could. Bear in mind that I am but a tiny and inconsequential dot in the literary world.

Be that as it may, here we go:

1. What exactly is African literature?
I personally think the definition of African literature will always be a subject of debate at the end of which there will never be a consensus. Howbeit, it could be defined along the Africanity of authors and, to a lesser extent, the subject matter of the works in question. Pursuant to the afore-mentioned definition, literary work by an African writer inevitably results in African literature. The literary product of one’s writing endeavour is inherently reflective of the writer’s experience from childhood to the juncture where one’s work is put forth for public consumption.

2. Why is it called African literature? Why is it not simply literature?

This is an intractable issue that has vexed noted writers like Soyinka, Ali Mazrui and Achebe. I am happy with Chinua’s definition best captured when he said, and I paraphrase him; “An African who says he or she does not write African literature is as foolish as a man who chases after a rat escaping from his burning hut instead of trying to put out the fire.”

3. Which is the best African literature?
This is like beauty for it is in the eyes of the reader, so to speak. Anyway, what other African literature is there?

4. Who is the father, or the mother of African literature?
I have qualms ascribing metaphorical parenthood to African literature. For me it would be easier to respond were I asked to name the African writer who has inspired me the most. In that case I would say Chinua Achebe through his book Things Fall Apart.

5. Why is Chinua Achebe discussed more than Amos Tutuola or V Mudimbe?
Comparing Achebe and Tutuola boils down to a comparison between Things Fall Apart and The Palmwine Drunkard. Things Fall Apart covers a wide range of societal aspects experienced by an African community at one time or the other, namely; (i) the bitter fruits of laziness and how one’s lassitude becomes a burden for one’s descendants, (ii) fear of failure and how it can lead to self-emollition, (iii) acquisition of dignity and respect through personal achievement regardless of misfortunes of one’s parents, (iv) the importance of heeding the words of one’s elders, (v) the significance of ngozi, the penalty for shedding the blood of one’s child, adopted or otherwise, (vi) the fragility of a community when it adopts and enforces norms and mores that are too rigid and (v) the vulnerability to outside forces when a community is too inflexible and restricted by archaic dogmas.

In my opinion, Chinua Achebe succinctly captures all this, and many more, in Things Fall Apart. The book encapsulates ruin that can befall an unflinching individual and a culturally static society.

Just as the Christian hymns touched something at the core of Nwoye, so does Things Fall Apart to this man’s cultural soul. I am a Shona of the Rozvi extraction. Any work that may directly or indirectly give me an insight on fcators that may have precipitated the demise of a once mighty community is greatly welcome. Given the invariance of mankind's behaviour, especially African, Chinua Achebe’s book strikes a chord with me much more than any other book by an African writer. Things Fall Apart does, to a point, help me get a general understand how the once pre-eminent Rozvi may have fallen apart and got scattered to all four corners of the world. Would The Palmwine Drunkard help me as much? I do not think so.

Here is the caveat though; it boils down to personal literary and cultural tastes.

6. Is it still African literature if it was first written in French and was then translated into English?

Of course it ought to be.

7. Why do other African writers only write in European languages, and not the languages of their mothers?

In my opinion, it is a matter of personal choice. If the author’s primary objective is to reach a big market and sell as many books as possible, what Sarudzai Mabvakure aptly describes as bestsellerdom, simple market forces dictate writing in a language that enables the writer to attain that goal. Others write in non-African languages to reach a wider readership but a quest for personal glory is not the primary motive. There are some writers who genuinely want to share African orature, as Sigauke calls it, with those beyond the African linguistic, geographic and cultural boundaries. These two examples are at the extreme termini of the spectrum of motives and the rest fall in between. Notwithstanding the individual motives, we all get culturally richer at the end of the day.

Additionally, there are instances where an African writer writes in a “European” language because the writer’s command of one’s “mother” is comparatively too poor to enable the writer to effectively put forth his or her ideas. This is a fact that many may not be comfortable with.

Let me say that I disagree with the characterization of languages used in Africa as European. I would prefer to call them languages adopted or culturally assimilated from erstwhile colonial powers. If one is so fluent in an assimilated language to the point where one can comfortably teach, write for, and even argue before a highly learned audience that claims that language as it mother tongue, without missing a bit, I say that is no longer a foreign language. To all intents and purposes, it becomes one’s mother tongue even if it was foisted by the bashing of one’s head with the priest’s Bible or at the prodding of the barrel of a gun.

On a personal level, I am comfortable writing in Shona and English. I write in Shona out of interest whereas I write in English because of professional obligations as well as out of personal interest.

8. Is Ngugi serious?

This question presupposes that the person or people who put together this questionnaire is or are personally aware of moments where said Ngugi has behaved in such a manner as to leave people questioning his seriousness. Has he? If he has, seemingly to the satisfaction of those empanelled to put this questionnaire, it would be helpful were they to make respondents privy to the details.

9. Why does Achebe live in the United States?
I think the answer to this is simple. Achebe lives in the United States of America for the same reason some of us do not live in our villages. What is the probative value of this question, really?

10. Is all African literature post-colonial?

Not necessarily.

11. But seriously, which writers make up African literature?

All the writers who state that their literary works comprise African literature ought to fall under this category.

12. How does one read African literature: where do you begin, where do you stop? Or do you stop? Should you know African orature in order to understand the literature?

I will pass on this one.

13. Who are the readers of African literature and why?


14. What does an African writer want?

The answer will vary from writer to writer. However, if I may hazard a guess, there are some who want fame, some who want to proudly show to the rest of the world the wealth of African culture, some want to preserve part of our culture, some who want to add to the pool of African culture, and so on and so forth. All these goals, however variegated, are noble.

15. Why?

In my humble opinion, personal satisfaction may very well be at the core of the motive.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

A Response to Ms Mabvakure's Bestsellerdom Blog Entry

Ms Mabvakure, there is one trait about you that I find refreshing; your honesty. You do not beat about the bush but go straight to the point, a take-no-prisoner approach. I will not always agree with you on theological issues but even there, your candour is something I greatly admire.

On bestsellerdom aspirations, I think it is more of a personality issue than a universal writers'-syndrome, unless I am mistaken in my observations. Some, it seems, write to reach a wide audience/readership beyond the circle of family members and friends. On the other hand, there are those who write for fun and when they make it to bestsellerdom, it would be like adding icing on the cake. I like what Dambudzo Marechera once said; "I write for myself." When I write, even mere scribblings, I do so primarily to entertain myself. When others join in, it only spices up everything.

A good product will inevitably self-generate a lucrative market for itself. It is just a matter of time. Moreover, fame will come if it is God’s will. Some will actively search for it while others entrust their fate in God’s hands. The above-noted comprise, in a nutshell, my writing creed. It may be a simpleton’s creed, but a creed nonetheless.

What are my thoughts on writing? Frankly, it is the easiest thing I have ever done so much so that I find it incredible that, within the writing community, it is generally considered a path to fame and the exclusive domain of a presumably gifted few. In his book, Roughing It, Mark Twain once made an observation to the effect that writing is so easy it should be considered a hobby not a job – that was after he had spent a stint doing back-breaking work at a silver-extracting mill in the wilderness of 19th Century Nevada.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Change You Can Believe In: South African Style

I have read so much about the brouhaha between Nando's and Julius Malema. "Much ado about nothing," I dismissed the whole kafuffle. For goodness' sake, I have wondered what it was all about until I saw the advertisement at the centre of the storm. Malema, the leader of the ANC Youth League has been clamouring for political change and, in a very funny spoof, Nando's promises real change people can believe in. The clip is right here. It is classic.

If Julius Malema is smart, which I doubt very much, he would come out and tell everyone it is a very funny advert. That would effectively take the wind out of the whole thing. If he makes threats, as is the wont of functionally illiterate political novices entrusted with enforcing law and order on behalf of the ruling elite, like the case of the mythical crows of my little book, African Folktales for Children, Nando's will have free and effective publicity.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Petina Gappah's Impressive BBC Interview

Petina's chat with Bola Mosuro of the BBC is very interesting. I do not know Petina as a person but, if I may confess, I was greatly impressed. Watch the interview here. What I find surprising is the fact that Zimbabwean cyberspace newspapers have not picked it up yet.

There are more interviews on her site. I genuinely believe it is worthwhile to watch and listen, I really do.

Although I prefer to stay away from politics, especially the Zimbabwean variety, I have to respectfully demur from Petina's observation, id est: the MDC is undergoing some Zanufication - around 28:30. I genuinely believe the MDC-ZANU-PF cohabitation is still in its premordial phase and it may be a little bit too early and premature to pass such judgement. Be that as it may, Petina's observation does have credibility given our country's sorry experience. For the sake of the Zimbabwean people, I hope we really move away from politics of cult leadership.

Friday, 8 May 2009

The Lions Press Publisher's Interview

The site Arts Initiates has an interesting piece in which Sarudzayi Barnes is interviewed. You can find the piece here. Like we used to say in the ghetto, padiki padiki zvesaga reshuka rinopera netiisipunu.