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A Christmas book gift from a Villager

by Staff reporter
10 Dec 2019 at 06:52hrs | Views
In my village, villagers don't write books. They queue for food aid from the State and NGOs to stay alive so that they can go and vote for Zanu PF in the next election. Writing books in my country is a hobby for the urban academic elite or frustrated failed politicians. Not rural villagers.

So when I told my aunt Maggie that I had found a publisher based in Canada who has published my historical narrative book Izimpi ZikaMthwakazi- Mthwakazi Wars 1890 – 1983 in my favourite conversation tongue and language isi Ndenglish, she looked at me puzzled, surprised and said to me, " Canada? Who told this publisher of yours that people write books in villages? Traditional crafts and market gardening, yes, but books? Did this Canadian visit you in this village?"

She wanted to know how I had met with this Canadian publisher and pitched for my script to be accepted by them. I told her that the publisher had not visited my village in Lupane, but he was from a village in our neighbouring rural district of Nkayi and now a Canadian citizen.

"Mugabe has done a good thing running down this country" she said to me, "now we have villagers from Nkayi who live in Canada publishing books written by villagers from Lupane. That was never heard of during our years growing up in Southern Rhodesia. What an inspiring revolution. I hope the current President ED Feeh can better Mugabe's record"

It was my turn to be puzzled by what she had just said, but the old lady still demanded to know why I wrote the book, how I met the Canadian publisher and why did this publisher publish my book in isiNdenglish a non publishing language? It all sounded like I had done a terrible thing!

I narrated to her how I met the Canadian publisher.

I was at the Gwayi river searching for my missing goats one afternoon when I got a long distance call from a male voice that identified itself as belonging to a Thabo Siziba calling from Canada. He wanted my opinion on if it was safe for him to walk from Bulawayo to Harare and back to hand over a petition on promoting Mthwakazi cultural rights and diversity to President Mnangangwa in his office and back to Bulawayo? He sounded very worried for his security and safety around his project.

"Its very safe, just do it if you want to and just make sure its you who is paying for it and not some donor somewhere manipulating you for being African. Zimbabwe now has among the best, a people's Constitution in the world, all you have to do is just exercise it as a citizen. If you want to walk 450km to give the President a love letter in his office, just do it. This is a free country. No one will stop you or harm you for doing that kind of thing" I had told him at the time. But he was not convinced. He was a victim of the media and social networks opinions about the state of politics in Zimbabwe.

If I did not help this strong willed man, I thought as we spoke, he was going to give up on his project, something he sounded so much that he wanted to do. "Ok I will go with you and wait outside at the Police Headquarters in Harare when you go in to notify the Police Commissioner about what you want to do so that if they eat you in there; I will call your wife and children back in Canada that the Police Commissioner has eaten you up, its time that we too eat the police commissioner" He was surprised that I was willing to escort him that far in support of his dream.

A few months latter me and him found ourselves in a car accident on a traffic roundabout just outside Harare city centre. We had just handed the letter about his #TheWalk program  to the Police Commissioner at Police HQ. It was a side hit from the drivers side. It had just started raining dogs and cats all of a sudden that day. As we waited for the traffic police officers to come to the accident scene, Thabo was now convinced that the accident was a bad omen and a sign of worse things to come if he went ahead with his program and wanted to cancel his Walk to the President's Office.  

"Take it easy man, don't be superstitious. This is just a matter of heavy rains, bad vision and you not being used to driving in this Harare traffic. Never cancel a dream Thabo. You did not break your walking legs in this accident, so let's get this car fixed and you complete your dream as you have set it out."

A few months down the road I had an exited Thabo call me at home, who had not only walked from Bulawayo to Harare and back, but also delivered his petition to a very welcoming President office staff as the man himself was not in the office and met wonderful supportive people all the way across Zimbabwe, people who wanted to learn about the history and culture of Mthwakazi, a word they heard so much these days but had no understanding of where it came from and what it represented.

The walk had educated Thabo and changed his perception on Zimbabweans and opened endless possibilities and opportunities of what can be done and the many dreams that people can accomplish in Zimbabwe. Above all he learned of the public need of Zimbabweans to learn some key missing historical narratives that would bring better improved understanding of ethnic relationships in the cultural diverse country.

This is how I met Thabo Siziba the walking publisher from Canada. At the time he was a Social Media Publisher owning a platform #TheWalk. He added me as one of his audiences. From time to time I made contributions to his platforms. Then all of a sudden unplanned, his audiences started compiling my historical narrative contributions to his platforms into PDF documents and reposting them to other groups. This brought in complications of copyright to my intellectual works and I was going to stop contributing to the platforms if there was no ways copyright would be managed.

This is when Thabo proposed to also publish my contributions in book form with proper ISBN responsibilities. Now that I had come to know Thabo personally and his passion for Mthwakazi culture, heritage, history and identity I trusted him with my history narratives and creative expression. I gave him the rights to publish the little book targeted at young readers searching for cultural identity; Mthwakazi Wars in my style of course, with a lot of stringent conditions that were meant to look after my creativity, style and my fans.

I am a person who does not like to conform totally to what people say how things should be done or were done so I should do them the same way. I am a creative person; so I enjoy my freedom to create how I want my things done and this pushed Thabo to the urge to work with me or go and work with someone else. I hope he did not find working with me as terrible.

Thabo's passion for arts, culture, heritage, history and identity of continental Africa that is not narrated through the minds and words of the coloniser as a publisher is also my passion as a writer. We have learned so much from each other on this journey and have met wonderful people who love and respect to be African.

As we launch the first book project together in Bulawayo under the Imbali Yethu History Series at the Bulawayo City Hall Gardens  on the 14th of December 2019 in a unique book launch party that Bulawayo has never seen before, that will start at 11am and run to 6pm, we hope cultural identity lovers from across Bulawayo will come and be part of this experience, buy a Christmas book present for a loved one and meet the author for a one on one conversion.

Let me thank those across the world that have supported the launch of Imbali Yethu History Series, the hosts of this book launch party with whom it could have been impossible to hold this event. To my Publisher thank you for trusting in my knowledge and finding time and energy to extract it from my inner self for the generations to come.

I invite you all to come and for those who will make it to the book launch party I will personally give you a heritage tour of the venue the Bulawayo City Hall Gardens, sign your copy and allow you to take a selfie, "Did you know that Bulawayo had street lights before London and they still work today? Come to the event and let me show them to you? Do you know why George Silundika Street does not pass through the City Hall? Come to the event and let me tell you why? Do you know why the Izinduna Indaba Portrait at the City Hall under the Clock was banned and closed to the public until recently? Come to the event let me share this reason with you? Do you know why the fountain at the City Hall Gardens was donated and by whom? Come to the event and hear it for yourself. It may turn out that the land mark that you see everyday the City Hall, has so much that you are not aware about for you and for generations to come.

And finally for those who will come to the event, have a Merry Christmas no matter how difficult the economic situation is in the country. Find alternatives to be happy. Getting yourself a copy of this new little book is one of those alternatives for you this year.

Khulu Cont Mhlanga
Mthwakazi Wars- Izimpi zikaMthwakazi 1890-1983

Source - Agencies