Zimbabwe Celebrates Women Poets
IN Zimbabwe, World Poetry Day – which falls on March 21 every year – has sparked and revived an interest in the poetry by that country’s women writers.
Although the world poetry commemorations are a one-day event, it is the vigour, the passion and the interest in the genre, especially the writings of Zimbabwean and African women, that fellow poets in that country have shown such that poetry performances, dub-poetry concerts as well as tributes have been held across Zimbabwe since the beginning of March.
Although Zimbabwe was put on the poetry map mainly by its male poets like Dambudzo Marechera (late), Chenjerai Hove (now domiciled in the Diaspora), Charles Mungoshi, Stanley Nyamufukudza, Thomas Bvuma, Albert Nyathi, Chirikure Chirikure and Mbizo Chirasha, among others, the Southern African nation – that is reputed to be among some of the countries in the world that have the highest literacy rates – also boasts of its fair share of good female poets.
As part of celebrating World Poetry Day, the Book Cafe, one of Zimbabwe’s leading literary and music hubs, organised the “‘Poetry And Concert” whose aim was to pay tribute to women writers.
Luminaries like Freedom Nyamubaya who rose to prominence with her poems published under the title “Dusk of Dawn” that are largely inspired by her direct experiences as a female combatant in the trenches during the country’s liberation struggle, are celebrated.
Apart from Nyamubaya, veteran wordsmiths of her ilk like Kristina Rungano and the late Valeria Chaukura also find their way into the hall of fame of women writers who put Zimbabwe on the world map through their powerful writings.
No wonder Zimbabwe Women Writers was formed several years ago with the mandate of not only pushing for the rights and needs of women writers in Zimbabwe but also to help in the articulation of issues and concerns that women and girls in general often face.
This year’s World Poetry Day comes at a time when the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) is under heavy criticism for its need to revamp and rejuvenate its operations in an effort to regain its former lustre.
The current events that are taking place not only in Zimbabwe but across Africa and the world over – especially those that celebrate women poets – should be used as a template of how literary and book fairs should be like and even do better since these are the premier events.
It is also a good thing to see the female poets engaging their male counterparts as well other artistes like musicians during these performances since this serves the purpose of the cross-fertilisation of ideas.
World Poetry Day was declared by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1999 with the aim of promoting “the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and, as the UNESCO session declaring the day says, to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.”