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