I Am African

By Masimba Biriwasha | Op Ed | January 03, 2013 | @ChiefKMasimba

I am African. And if you listen to the winds of Africa, you’ll hear them whisper my name. Not in vain. Nor sorrow. But in full, firm acknowledgement of my being. Within my bosom I carry an eternal flame and with it I blaze my path into a future untold my held high and shoulders thrown back.

I can feel the thrill of expectation hanging in the air as I navigate my way through cobwebs that have held me back in limbo for so long. My soul’s eyes are aglow: I’m now journeying into new frontier. I’ll collapse all my worlds, seek out my image and carve a new name.

I refuse to be bowed down by past and present shackles. Instead, I’ll amalgamate all those experiences to build myself anew. I am the flame-lily, born out of hard rock – my desire to rise and bloom is unstoppable. Out of the dark, bloody and soggy soils from which I am fashioned lies the seed of my rebirth.

My soul sinks deep to find that seed so that I can be one with it. I crave no sympathy. Neither do I need handouts. I am my own whole. I carry no hate nor fear. Only a passion to make a fresh cut of myself. In fact, all my failed hopes and false starts lumped together will make the operating system for the redesign of my sonic reality.

Out of my sinews, I will weave a new song. That song of many worlds traversed and journeys travelled will be the footnote to my resolve to be one with myself again. Uncluttered. Unchained. Only determined to leave footprints along a new path that will make my ancestors gape in awe.

I refuse to be hamstrung in old, worn-out legacies. I’ll stand on the pedestal of all that transpired to bring me to today and I’ll frame myself in my own terms.

I am African. And if you listen to the winds of Africa, you’ll hear them whisper my name. As I connect with my present being, I’ll release my sails toward outward bound. Gently, with grave, I’ll give voice to the cataclysm brewing within. The monkey whispers are going now. Within me are kingdoms of queens and kings reviving. Drumrolls nudging me to excavate the beauty of my soul.

I’m the African you’ve never seen before. Born of stars in the milky way. Non refurbished. True to the core and connected. With a singular aim to sing a lullaby to the seed rising within. Fashioned out of dark soils to dream and dance and be one with the moon.

I am African. I’m coming into my own now. My destiny prepared me from the beginning. I’m old and new now, yet distinct, mutating on my path to perpetuity. Writing my own future. A thousand lights of sun will guide my path.

I am African. Toying with moments of freedom in my palms. I thrums in tune to the drumbeat call of generations of soul, of pain and joy rising above the spontaneous eruption of life, uncontrollable, unbounded, free of constriction or constraint in its purest form. Beyond those hills and balanced rocks. Beyond those vineyards and gardens if you listen just a little close you’ll hear the winds of Africa whisper my name.

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ZUSAA Calls for Artists to Promote Tolerance

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – The Zimbabwe-United States Alumni Association (ZUSAA), which brings together Zimbabweans who have either lived, studied or participated in exchange programmes to the US and now resident in Zimbabwe, has called for support of programmes that use arts and culture to promote healing and tolerance in the country.

ZUSAA, which was established in 2009, currently has a membership of over a 1,000 alumni who have skills in different sectors ranging from business, government, non-profit organizations, trade unions, arts and culture among many other professions.

According to the ZUSAA National Coordinator, Michael Mabwe, the organization was formed to ensure that the skills and expertise of Zimbabweans who have been to the US are used for national development.

“We realized that after benefiting from rare experiences abroad, there was a need to continue with some of the concepts learned while in the US. Hence, the need for a platform which brings these leaders together and use their collective effort to give back to the various sectors in Zimbabwe,” said Mabwe, who is also a beneficiary of the US’s International Visitors’ Program on Promoting Tolerance through the Arts.

Mabwe, who is also a renowned human rights poet, said that artists have a big role to play in the national life of Zimbabwe.

“We want to see artists engaging more with the national question, particularly around promoting healing because as artists, they’re soul of the nation. With their art work – if done above political lines – artists can play a major role in diffusing tension that is currently being experienced locally. We want artists to be ambassadors of peace who in their collective effort can help spearhead an effective peace campaign,” he said.

Mabwe added that it is important for artists in the country to collaborate with the Organ on National Healing as well as the Church and Civil Society Forum to promote national healing.

“If the country is bleeding, there can be no development that can take place. Therefore, it means that we cannot improve the lives and livelihoods of our people. Political parties must put the needs of the general populace first before their narrow political ends,” said Mabwe.

“People limit the idea of national healing to political violence yet there are a number of sectors in our society that need  healing, apart from politics. From our industry, our education sector, our tourism, our politics among others, there is a need for healing to take place so that Zimbabwe can reclaim its status as a peaceful, and progressive country amongst the global family,” he said.

Mabwe said that ZUSAA will continue to contribute to different national processes by utilizing the broad skills base within its membership.

Young Musician Launches Chimurenga Album

It’s not often that you hear of Glendale – an outpost approximately 60 killometres northeast of Harare – in the news. But twenty-six year old, Tichaona Madyiwa, is bucking the trend, albeit, with chimurenga music.The fact that Glendale does not have a vibrant nightlife did not deter Madyiwa from pursuing his dream in music. He said that he received a lot of encouragement from popular musician Somandla Ndebele who kept telling him not to abandon his passion.

In April, Madyiwa launched a seven-track debut album titled, “Vakadzi Vevanhu.” The album, which was produced and arranged by the veteran musician, Mono Mukundu, not only highlights Madyiwa talent but that chimurenga musical acumen is still very much alive in Zimbabwe. Some of the titles on the album include, “Tipeiwo darirro,” “Ndambakuudzwa”, Ndakamuramba,” “Maidei,” Nyarai kuchema Gibson,” “Ndakakutadzira” as well as the title track “Vakadzi vevanhu.”

“It’s an album that teaches and provides advice about general life issues. Most people are doing a lot of wrong nowadays, so the album seeks to make people cautious about their lives,” said Madyiwa in an interview.

The lyrical content of the songs on the album are very rich and well-polished and clearly speak to Madyiwa’s maturity and versatility which belie his age.

“I have been writing songs since 2004 but I had no intention to record the songs. But in 2009, I began polishing my work because I wanted to record,” said Madyiwa.

He said that he received a lot of assistance from his uncle who plays the bass guitar on the album as well as Mukundu who provided the lead guitar for the album.

Madyiwa said he has done live shows in partnership with Ndebele, Kapfupi and Leornard Zhakata in order to polish his lyrics and sharpen his voice projection.

“I never had the intention to be a musician but when I started to play mbira people encouraged me to form a group so that I could take my music to a higher level. I established a band and we played at functions in Glendale, and people appreciated our work. They inspired us to get serious with our music,” said Madyiwa.

Madyiwa said that the lyrical content of his music is influenced by what he observes in people’s day-to-day lives. He said that the mbira formed the heart and soul of his music and that he grew up listening to chimurenga music which influenced his sound.

“I grew up listening to Thomas Mapfumo, Pio Farai Macheka and Brian Mteki and I got to fully understand the shape and colour of that music. I used to try to sing like the chimurenga greats,” he added.

“When I write songs, I observe people and then I develop my lyrical content along those lines. I promise that if people give me a chance, I’ll not let them down. I am going to continue producing quality work. My passion will never die,” he said, adding that his dream was to take his music to an international stage.

upon this path

upon this path, angels appear dressed in rags that sag and stink like rotten shoes. we cringe when we meet them, and count their words for nothing. yet gently the angels whisper as they limp by our side, and complain of a backache born of past regret. slowly they seek to build within our bones a new faith to heal the wounded words that spill out of hearts like an old habit. so, though, to the heavens we look for miracles, right by our side, the angels whisper sweet words that can makes rise again. if only we could listen, we would hear what they have to say.

After the Rain

After the rain, which now clots the ground, she jumps out of her shell: gazes into the depth of her soul and grows roots that run haywire, till she connects again.

 

She finds a watery burble, and marvels at the passing images of her life (including the lost times) and how she tried to live in the thin veneer between dark and light.

 

She yearns for the wings of youth, soft and tender, and full of dreams that lacked fear.

 

As the rainbow in the horizon curls outward, she dashes with the full strength of her bones, naked of ambition and desire and dreams of the future.

 

Feeling a little faint, she looks to her sides, and sees it: a sprout of a new wing.

 

Faith mounts within her loins as her wings unfurl.

 

And suddenly, she rises.

 

O, how she rises with a grace so swift towards the single-eyed star high in the azure.