Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Volcanic ash affects Zimbabwean writers

TOP del.icio.us

I never imagined myself talking of volcanic ash over Europe from an Icelandic volcano. I thought what does volcanic ash have to do with a poor writer from Zimbabwe? I might never be in the vicinity of a volcano in my lifetime.

But the volcanic ash has hit my colleagues in the arts industry in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Jane Morris and Brian Jones of Amabooks, a local publisher, were supposed to travel to South Africa and on to Britain for the London Book Fair. Amabooks have published numerous books including short writings from Bulawayo. They have also published several collections of poetry by John Eppel. John Eppel was also published in the prestigious poetry anthology Fire In The Soul: 100 Poems For Human Rights by Amnesty International and New Internationalist. Also in the anthology are local poets, Julius Chingono based in Harare and myself based in Bulawayo.

I met Jane and Brian at the art gallery in Bulawayo and they were not at all pleased with the fact that they had failed to travel to the London Book Fair. And they were now trying to make frantic efforts to travel to the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), the biggest festival in Zimbabwe. Since the Amabooks team thought they wouldn’t be around, they had not made any arrangements for HIFA. We have only a handful of festivals in Zimbabwe; these include Ibumba Festival, run by Siyaya Arts in Bulawayo, Intwasa Arts Festival that is held at the end of September in Bulawayo and the Bulawayo Poetry Festival 26-28 August. The Bulawayo Poetry Festival is run by Poetry Bulawayo and is a feast of poetry.

Another artist affected by the volcanic ash is writer Christopher Mlalazi. He was supposed to have travelled to the US for a writing fellowship on Tuesday the 21st of April. I met him on the 22nd and he was unhappy that the volcanic ash had scuttled his plans. Chris’s specialty is short stories. But he recently published a novel, Many Rivers, which tells of the many rivers that an illegal Zimbabwean immigrant has to face. After crossing the crocodile infested Limpopo River, there are still many other rivers to be crossed in the form of obstacles and hardships. Christopher is a National Arts Merits Awards winner with his collection of short stories, Dancing With Life that was published by Amabooks.

When I met Jane Morris later she had become rather upbeat. She had managed to convince the British Council, sponsors of the London Book Fair, to send them to a literary fair in Wales instead. I sincerely hope the whole volcanic ash will clear up soon so that our torch bearers can travel.

Comments are closed.