Friday, 4 March 2016

African Monsters Launch at Forbidden Planet

Last Thursday, I undertook the arduous journey to London, some 6 agonising hours on the Megabus coach, on a scenic route through Leeds and Sheffield. In between naps, I read Lair of the White Worm on my Kindle. As is my custom, I walked rather than rode into the more interesting parts of Westminster just so I can feel my ass my again. It was also nice to feel the sun again.

I was in London to meet the latest addition to my Fairfield Press stable, Mr Thomas Mutonono of Luton, who has recently published Crossroads. I wanted to personally present him with the proof copy to the print edition to his new book. And he wanted to not only meet me in person, but see a book launch.

Mr Mutonono's fiction is, in my view, of value to a lot more than just lovers of Zimbabwean literature. He focuses on the period just after Zimbabwe's Independence in 1980, a period that most of us seem to have forgotten or stopped writing and reading about. I was 4 years old in 1980, but I remember that period very well. It's not for me to say, but adding Mr Mutonono's works to the curriculum in Zimbabwe would be a good idea.

After a chat over coffee, we headed off to the Forbidden Planet, where Fox Spirit Books was launching African Monsters, edited by Jo Thomas and Margrét Helgadóttir. As some of you know by now, Fox Spirit Books has also recently published Winter Tales, which includes my When The Trees Were Enchanted. It was a pleasure to meet people who, thanks to social media, I felt I knew already. We also had several friends and acquaintances in common.

After, we all tried to find a pub (you'd think that would be easy in that part of Westminster) eventually settling on a Thai restaurant. I wasn't keen on Thai food, so I had spring rolls, then left the party to find the Keret Kitchen. Yes, this lonely Rasta from the north was gagging for Ethiopian food and had taken the trouble to look up Ethiopian restaurants on the internet. I found it in my old neighbourhood, i.e. the area where I stayed when I arrived in England, the Walworth-Camberwell area. My, how the neighbourhood has changed!

If you want good Ethiopian grub, Zeret Kitchen is the place to go. Unfortunately, I could not sit around for much longer as I had to catch the 436 for the ass-numbing trip back home. I meant to stay in London for a few more days, visiting relatives and friends, but I had a meeting the next day. So, I had my meal packed and caught the 148 to Victoria Station.

There won't be a launch for Winter Tales, unfortunately. Still, it was great meeting everyone. And, I will be doing a signing in Middlesbrough, at Sacred Alien Comix. Watch this space.

Friday, 12 February 2016

The List that caused all the trouble

Sub-title this blog: The blog that should have never been written if Petina Gappah and her simp friend hadn't gotten so petty.

It all started when Google alerted me to the presence of a webpage with my surname on it. It was a list of "The 10 Best Writers From Zimbabwe", by one Tindo Tomahawk. Up until that moment, I had never heard of Tomahawk Tindo, nor The Culture Trip. I have since established that Mr Tomahawk works in media in Zimbabwe, and blogging is one of his minor activities. I thought it was nice of him to not only include me in his list of the 10 Best Writers From Zimbabwe. As is my custom, I posted a link to the article on my Facebook page, tweeted it etc.

My friends and family liked the comment, and said so. I stated quite clearly that there are many other Zimbabwean writers I would have put on this list instead of me. I did not want to remove anyone else, because I understood that this was one man's list and who am I to tell him who he thinks is the best of Zimbabwe's writers? Quite a simple matter, really.

Until one "Ras" Mkhonto WeSizwe Mahomva (the alter-ego of Richard Runyararo Mahomva) decides to make his inaugural comment on my Facebook wall by stating the obvious: "Something flawed about that list." he opines, before coming up with a list of writers that he thought should have been there, including Petina Gappah. All of a sudden, I find myself defending a list I had no hand in compiling. Gappah's first stated gripe was that Tomahawk Tindo had only one female writer on his list. I am guessing Gappah is of the Special Olympics School of "thought" (you know, applaud individuals not for any particular reason except they belong to a particular category of society and really need that applause in order to feel better. Jada Pinkett-Smith is another proponent of this mentality.)

But that was not the issue. Both Mahomva and Gappah were acting like drunken louts, the social media equivalent of shouting, trying to have the last word on an argument no one had even made in the first place. Talk about having nothing better to do on a Thursday morning! Mahomva was affecting the air of a great intellectual. How one can hope to come across as a great intellectual by acting like a complete boor is incredible, but there he was shooting down someone's comment with, "We can debate pedestrian thoughts on matters of academic importance the whole day." The person in question, unlike Mahomva, has actually read some of my work, including my latest novel.

Now, there are several lists of Zimbabwean writers that people have put on the internet over the years. Gappah herself said in one of her comments that she even has compiled her own list. I wonder if she would countenance being cornered into justifying it by people who as a rule never engage her in any sort of communication. Here's a list of 20 Writers. How many times has it been or shot down because it doesn't includes Kristina Rungano or Ndabezinhle Sigogo? It has been viewed nearly 10000 times.

What was it about this list that really twisted Mahomva and Gappah's nipples? The fact that Gappah's name is not there, or the fact that my name is there and hers isn't? Judging by the inbox messages, there is a lot of social media chatter around that issue. I would not be surprised if there are people whispering things to other people all over the 'net. The Zimbabwean intelligentsia is very good at that sort of thing. Why else would she be so worked up about a mere list? It is completely out of character for her to find the time to comment on my wall. She made a few cryptic references too, suggesting that yesterday's incident was only part of a conversation that has been held elsewhere and with other people. I think someone wants drama to happen. Well, I am not really one for drama. This blog is all I really feel I want to say on the matter. I would have gladly let the matter rest and chalked it to one of those things that flare up on Facebook from time to time were it not for the fact that Gappah proceeded to slander me to her own circle, acting like all she ever wanted was to see more women writers and I was being unreasonable.

So now we can add Quote-Miner and Liar (same thing, really) and a pathological inability to own one's faux-pas to her many talents and attributes.

As for Mahomva, it was painful to watch a grown man affect an air of intellectual superiority for no purpose at all except to put down another grown man who is minding his own business and doing his own thing. Calm your twats, people, and find other things for your little hands to do.

Oh, about the picture at the top of the blog. It dates from 2009. I was delivering a talk on my own book at a London library, but I am holding up Chris Mlalazi's then latest release, Many Rivers. I do support other writers from Zim, not just with words, but with purchases of their titles.

Tomahawk Tindo, if you find time to read this, thank you for reading Herbert Wants To Come Home and getting the underlying theme, even if it is only in draft form. Hope you will like the proper book when it comes out. And thank you for putting me on this list, it is obviously a very significant one otherwise sparks would not be flying over why you compiled it the way you did (but I do recommend Tsitsi Dangarembga, though.)

Monday, 8 February 2016

Shavi Rechikadzi Get It Now Mazwi

Shavi Rechikadzi Get It Now Mazwi: Sarungano waNhasi adzoka zvakare, nechino chinyorwa chinotarisana nezvekubatwa chibharo kwevakadzi muchita chemuZimbabwe, mabasa emapurisa nevamwe ekurwisa