By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
“What is this unique feature that you have that is going to make people want this magazine?”
Harare, Zimbabwe – I can’t remember how many times I have been in Zimbabwean supermarkets scanning over magazines. And I’m always infuriated at how the galore of magazines simply don’t reflect Zimbabwe’s zeitgest.
I’m more convinced that ever that Zimbabwe urgently needs a magazine – a professionally produced magazine with great storytelling and pictures. Most importantly, Zimbabwe needa an innovative magazine that celebrates what is unique about being Zimbabwean.
Before 2000, Zimbabwe had some interesting titles in the likes of Look and Listen, Mahogany, Pride, Parade, Horizon, Moto just to name a few but they all pulverized into nothingness.
There have been many efforts to launch magazines but all these efforts have just not been supported with the creativity, perseverance, and resilience that is required in the magazine publishing business. While lack of capital has always been pointed out as an inhibiting factor, many of the publishers have failed at utilizing technology, out-of-the box thinking and old fashioned hard work to innovate a product that resonates with Zimbabwe.
In fact most of the publishers simply jump into the magazine business to make a quick buck and are not prepared to withstand the vagaries of the game.
So let’s try and lay out some basic game changing plans. First of foremost, Zimbabwe needs a magazine that celebrates its people without whitewashing the evils. It must be a magazine that looks deep into the Zimbabwean soul, and tells stories of our achievements, challenges and aspirations. In terms of design, it must be put together in a way that encourages people to thumb through and read and look at it and save pages.
In addition, being multi-platform must be a key priority of the magazine. The magazine must be available on multiple platforms, that is, print, online and via mobile. The Internet is an incredible way to get timeliness to people.
Magazines right now need strategies that can spread their stories and writers and photographers and sensibility across digital, events, social media, broadcast.
Zimbabweans publishers need to dream: after all, magazine publishers need to realize that they are in the business of making dreams come true. Dreams should be fueled by passion and executed by sheer will power. In terms of positioning, it must be a magazine of real quality, timeless quality, the kind of quality that raises to the level of literature that’s extremely rare.