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Of Conversations and moderation…

Things are happening here and there and whether you can see them or not you can’t certainly say the Old Man doesn’t see them. Quote from Waiting for the Rain by Charles Mungoshi, page 1, Opening sentence.

Home to the seminar title: by an accomplished storyteller from Zimbabwe

Hello hello children of the motherland. I am referring to you as children not because you are kids but because you belong to Africa. The term child for me becomes neutral and all encompassing: age, gender, territorial, class and ethnic lines are somehow blurred through the term. It spares me the agony of saying ‘hi ladies and gentlemen’ I feel there is something classicist in it. It’s nice having you at this conference. If you thought you were coming to be taught, you are wrong but not lost. We are all here to converse. We all will talk, we all shall listen.  That way we all are guaranteed to listen as we learn from one another. If you deemed to see a person titled teacher, or lecturer, I wish you to think they are no longer part of our lexicon. Maybe make me a temporary moderator or facilitator or moderator at this wonderful conference table.

I hope you have called everyone including those you thought are not fit to be here. We may have something to share with them, either as givers or getters of knowledge. I am saying this thinking the most subscribers of this conference mainly come from a group that thinks of themselves as enlightened though in most cases we don’t appreciate the confusion that rules over our lives. If I were to ask if we have a practicing break layer, farmer, carpenter, mechanic, and electrician or carpenter to stand up, we may be disappointed.

Anyway, they may not be here in flesh but we can be with them in words through our writings, videos, and audios using the spirit of information that is moving under the sun. One conversation should not end with here with us, it should end there with them. Let us reach for and with ideas so that we won’t celebrate the wind without adding anything to the move.

I am thinking of content creation as something that in most cases comes from somewhere distant from keyboard. I’m thinking of where I can get the content to talk of.  I am also thinking of activities worth documentation but neglected. Documentation in this instance means preserving our actions for purposing of learning and conceptualizing.

We are gathered here to learn – to give perspective to what we can do. Firstly let me trouble you with these questions we need to ponder on

  • What is learning?
  • What are the tools we need in our learning?
  • Do we have or recognise the fertile grounds for our learning?

For the most part of our lives we have been learning from books. I want us to learn from the late Africanist, Amilcar Cabral in his collected speeches termed Returning to the Source. He hinted of the concept of map-reading or knowing our world: that is knowing its potential vested in its human and natural wealth (resources) {Return to some of the Becoming the muse’s second posting of this year’s challenge. There pretty much good questions there as the Muse was thinking of possibilities, history and his place etc}. I want us to share from the book of life. Forgive me my religious brothers and sisters who belong to those religious movements with books referred to as ‘book of life’ (bible, Quran, Torah etc). At this juncture the term speaks to the script of life as seen, smelt, felt, tasted- life as an experience.

As we think of these questions maybe let me tell you something that was born out of my disappointment that happened to dawn over me after realizing grant speeches and events where visions were enunciated and articulated mainly in English; that is an African sphere that is paradoxically called Anglophone Africa (Lusophone and Francophone Africa use Portuguese and French respectively). The great and well written speeches since ‘liberation struggles’ never tallied with what most Africans especially those distanced from power hoped to see on the ground. The term liberation struggles is in quotes because I don’t want us to assume that we are in a struggle. Even Samora Machel hints at this in his proclamation, ‘Aluta Continua’ (struggle continues) I think should speak to or for generations since the day he uttered them.

The result of my disappointment made me want or yearn to philosophize what I have done and failed or succeeded rather than what I dream. I am not saying let’s not dream. We should at least wait for the maturation and realization of those thoughts to give speeches. Let me give me you an example that is not an example because it’s a question: Are we happy with the strides taken in our respective provinces of residence to realize gender equity, the end to violence and abuse in all its forms, accessibility of land by all as well as real unity for all of us? Assuming like me you are not happy, did how do you rate the speeches on such issues from government and non-governmental organisations on these issues? I have dealt with this in a precise way in my attempted collection of few poems. Anyway this is not the primary focus of the conversation at hand. It was just a side show to make you understand how alert I am to the great systemic tragedy we are in which cannot be ignored. It has been confronted in grand papers, books and projects elsewhere. We will confront it from our little holes we stay in.

As we create content, can we take some to think of and appreciate the reality that we are not the first to write of the motherland. But like the Old Man from the title we can’t certainly we are not seeing that which is being and not being covered. We have local and foreign broadcasters that have covered a lot about Africa. I have observed a trend in foreign channels of presenting on a plethora of the evils and problems thrashing on our mental and physical make-up of our very being. These we cannot deny of their existence as I tried to skirt around when I referred to the disappointment that birthed a poet in me.

On the other hand if you come from a country like mine where the national broadcaster have got a single television channel and a few cover up national and community radio stations you sometimes tire of the state propaganda with seasonal breaks that comes with a few other inconsistent programs one is close to liking. If you come to a country like South Africa you are bombarded with scripts portraying how rotten the community has become.

It’s very good to continue tapping into these spaces confronting the issues. But allow me to get back to my title excerpt ‘Things are happening here and there and whether you can see them or not you can’t certainly say the Old Man doesn’t see them.’ Let us continue writing of the evils. But at this conference let’s add a flavor and assume some difference to the script. If we have been covering what is happening here let’s look for that which is there.

Let’s think of this in terms of the optics of the cameraperson and the camera. If we are given a picture, what we see is not all that was or is at the scene. What we see is what the camera opted to focus on. Sometime this year I thought I worked as a teacher of English language and Literature in English. I posed this question to the learners then if they have seen images of an African child as beautifully looking and strong as them on any foreign news channel. We are bombarded with pictures of chaos in this and that part of an African city, pictures of some version of little Oliver Twist in some war torn African nation or to be downward enough in some poverty stricken household. One end up thinking Africa is an all-time village of misery. The absence of my beautiful and handsome healthy learning doesn’t mean their absence on the motherland. Their absence is a result of the camera holder’s choice of the point to focus on.

One of my friend and first proof reader of my first drafts of fiction once said to me it’s better to be angry than hopeless. He was comparing my different moods in my poetry and my earliest short stories penned last year. I wrote my poems with an air of anger as I heard Robert Mugabe’s successor giving his first speech as Zimbabwe’s president in English. My reaction led to a new set of thinking you will see if ever my poems get published. But my stories I should admit carries unimaginable levels of hopelessness that I think I will run away from in some of my posts on this platform.

How do we change our focus then Mr Facilitator? is probably the question you have. Our change of what to present is not a call to ignore the big systematic problems thwarting our hopes and efforts. I will consciously chose to see what’s happening here and there. Part of this include these few stories I saw and heard from

  1. Sekuru Baba Chiedza

We met when I lodged at his father’s place whilst doing my final three years of secondary education. If you were to go in to his room you will see apart from their pictures hanging frames containing certificates from Zimbabwean college and University of South Africa. He trained and practised as a teacher before embarking on full-time farming. He left the mother of most professions in the late 2000s – you may be in the know of some burning happening in the former ‘jewel of Africa’ as Julius Nyerere wants referred to Zimbabwe. The jewel was (and probably is) still burning so were or are many of its citizens.

In a conversation Sekuru Baba Chiedza revealed to me lack of satisfaction of his needs compared to the energy put to his then profession. The profession meant that he felt the heat as the nation was burning: a time when a tout at commuter terminus were boasting of their ability to pay four teachers. Faced with this, they resorted to gardening relying on a manual borehole to water it. He decided to buy a water pump – the returns were amazing – the logical reason called for expansion of the garden. I remember how the expansion paid the business and they bought a T35 truck. A few years later I heard that they have become proud owners of a retail shop. My business friends will help me here – my poor mind is telling me there is growth and expansion of business there – agribusiness to trans-business to retail business. You can think of a few people that are being employed both permanently and contractual. I remember I myself and Owen my young friend who has become a brother getting contractual work to fill our pockets for the journeys to see our then lovers from the nearby high school. Lengthy permitting, I would have written of a conversation with this Owen.

The Mafumas’s story

Allow me to tell you of a close peer of me (and his family story) – a childhood friend. I was a grade or two behind him at school. We at one time agreed to pursue plumbing. The friendship dream had a still death. Our pathways got separated when he opted to treat sick cars (motor mechanics. The spanners love their hands, his two elder brothers are in the same profession) and I pursued academics. His education was acquired from a not so famous technical college from our small local town. But the college has produced great people in their professions. Elisha crossed the Limpopo river and he is practicing his craft there. From the structures they have I don’t think they dream of city life. They have blended the structural outlook of city houses and their ambitions to carve something worth emulating in the village. I remember Elisha’s first daughter whom I think was around 5 during my last village visit taking me through lessons on how to use a bath tab and shower.

This was happening in the village. Together with his family, brothers and parents they have embarked on an ambitious gardening project.

Mrs Mafuma (mother to Elisha) inspecting their current tomato plant

I have talked too much but have given fewer testimonies as they say in Christian or Pentecostal circles or case studies as the language of academics would say. But I think they can help me illustrate my rumblings in this conservation. If I were good at summarizing I could have just said let us also try to think of something inspirational or good happening ‘here and there’. Taking time to think of these will obviously take us to spaces where we will begin to ponder on what we have or what we lack. We may somehow come to realise energy and expertise is there though not the will and other crucial resources like land. From my examples you can see the most important things outside Sekuru Baba Chiedza and Elisha is will, land and water. Therefore conversations on our determination to own land will naturally come to the table. Conversations on how to deal with climate change will begin from these little acts. I have talked so many times about my poetry, here is one for you as a reward for investing your precious time reading this not so well thought out sh*t


I was raised by the hoe

I will never throw it away

I will add to my wealth

Some more hoes

Modern and advanced hoes

I will leave them for my children’s heritage

I will instill in these kids

The politics of the hoe

**that feeds us, visitors, relatives, neighbors and strangers

That chases away all evil thoughts

That chases all hunger and begging


The hoe’s writing is permanent

It is an enabler of continuity

The hoe’s prints are visible

In the children’s joy

In the children’s health

In their will to be involved in the hoe’s writings and art

I will teach my children to write with the whole

To more lessons


The Advocate with pleasure

Published by advocateofunpopularopinions

I am a preacher confused in the constant happenings of life. I have been secretive about inner thoughts. Now I want to flow with them. I want to vomit. The pen is my link to the paper. The keyboard becomes the first step towards you. The internet will sort everything else considering I am not broke.

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