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Victor Dlamini

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Archive for the ‘Zimbabwe’ Category

The Author and Filmmaker, Tsitsi Dangarembga

Tsitsi Dangarembga

From Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Wikipedia entry:

As a novelist Dangarembga made her debut with Nervous Conditions, a partially autobiographical work which appeared in Great Britain in 1988 and the next year in the United States. A sequel, The Book of Not, was published in 2006.

Dangerembga wrote the story for the film Neria (1993), which became the highest-grossing film in Zimbabwean history. The protagonist is a widowed woman, whose brother-in-law abuses traditional customs to control her assets for his own benefit. Neria loses her material possessions and her child, but gets then help from her female friend (played by Kubi Indi) against her late husband’s family. The title song is by Oliver Mtukudzi, who also appears in the film.

In 1996, she directed the film Everyone’s Child. It was the first feature film directed by a black Zimbabwean woman. The story followed the tragic fates of four siblings, after their parents die of AIDS. The soundtrack featured songs by Zimbabwe’s most popular musicians, including Thomas Mapfumo, Leonard Zhakata and Andy Brown.

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A New Look at Comrade Fatso

Comrade Fatso

(A.k.a. Sam Farai Monro.) Photographed at the 2007 Spier Poetry Festival.

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The greatly humorous Zimbabwean author, Charles Mungoshi

Charles Mungoshi


Charles Mungoshi

Photographed at last year’s Time of the Writer.

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Podcast with Peace-Maker and ex-US Congressman Howard Wolpe

Howard Wolpe Howard Wolpe brings to peace-making and diplomacy a refreshingly skeptical approach, one that implicitly questions the ability of standard diplomacy to resolve conflict in areas where trust is low. Howard is the Director of the Africa Program and the Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity at the Washington DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In the work that he has done in some of Africa’s hotspots, such as Burundi and the DRC, Howard explains that he prefers an approach that avoids quick fixes and instead he focuses on employing methods that are slower, but that in the end are more likely to result in sustainable peace processes.

One of the things that gave me pause for thought, concerning Howard’s views, is his emphasis on placing a great deal of responsibility on the affected parties to make a lasting peace. This in stark contrast to overemphasizing the role of the facilitator – as can be seen in the views expressed by many analysts who have criticized President Mbeki’s insistence that Zimbabweans must find a lasting solution to their problems themselves.

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Ngugi wa Mirii, RIP

The great Kenyan playwright Ngugi wa Mirii, a colleague of Ngugi wa Thiong’o's who lived most of his life in Zimbabwe, died in a car crash over the weekend. I’ve put some links for further reading below.

We sometimes forget how very real Pan-Africanism is: Africans don’t just migrate to other parts of the world, they also travel widely and take up new homes within the continent. Ngugi wa Mirii chose Zimbabwe as his escape from the dictatorship of Daniel Arap Moi, and kept growing his formidable reputation on African soil.

His death is our loss.

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Podcast: Zukiswa Wanner on The Madams

Zukiswa Wanner Zukiswa WannerJoin me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Zukiswa Wanner, author of the novel, The Madams, a book that has ventured into uncharted literary space by creating South Africa’s first Black “madam” and White “maid”. I caught up with Zukiswa at the Newtown Cultural Precinct in Johannesburg, and in this enjoyable conversation Zukiswa reveals much of what inspired her to write the novel.

Zukiswa’s is undoubtedly one of the boldest new voices to have arrived on the South Africa literary scene, choosing as her debut subject that most peculiar aspect of South Africa’s socio-cultural reality, the absence of white women as domestic servants – or “domestics”, or “maids”, as they are sometimes called. Zukiswa conjures up just such a figure – serving in a black household. This role-reversing manipulation of “that great South African bourgeois accessory”, the maid, allows one to reflect on the stubbornness of our social practices, and their ability to cut to the quick of our past.


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Photographic Essay: Poetry Africa 2007

Chiwoniso Chiwoniso

Chiwoniso and Chirikure Chirikure Chiwoniso Chiwoniso and Stanley Onjezani Kenani
Chiwoniso the mbira poet
with Chirikure Chirikure and Stanley Onjezani Kenani


Habib Demba Fall and Zorro Zorro Zorro
Habib Demba Fall and Zorro

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Victor Dlamini on SAfm: Mosegomi, St John, Badroodien and More

Tribute to Es'kiaHere is a tribute to Es’kia Mphahlehle I came across in Newtown the other day. The mural-stroke-grafitti advises lookers-on to visit

Another link readers might find of interest is the online back-issue archive of African Affairs, published by Oxford UP for the quaintly-named Royal African Society. You have to subscribe for the complete articles, but are allowed a sneak preview of some length. Here’s a sample from 1978: Eric Woods’ “Community Action, Urban Protest and Change in Zimbabwe and South Africa”.

On SAfm Literature this Sunday, we start things off with Mosala Mosegomi, co-author with Boatamo Mosupyoe of a new work of political science, Soweto Explodes: the Beginning of the End of Apartheid, which tracks the creation of the Southern African Students’ Movement (SASM) and National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO), and looks at the build-up and aftermath of Soweto’s powder-keg explosion in 1976. Click here for an article by Mosupyoe that draws on the book.


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Victor Dlamini on SAfm: Motsei, Dunbar, PEN Winners and More

Soweto ManI’m a keen photographer – a confirmed amateur, although I occasionally sell individual images if there’s interest. There are few things I enjoy more than taking my camera and roaming for shots. I had a good outing in Soweto recently, filling the memory card with “township portraits” that to my eye are quite lovely. When I was reviewing them, I realized how little the ordinary men and women of Soweto feature in today’s media. Here’s a picture I’d like to share – one that speaks simply of living and getting along.

Now, to the subject at hand, SAfm Literature. My first guest on the show this week will be Mmatshilo Motsei, author of The Kanga and the Kangaroo Court, which was launched at the Women’s Gaol, Constitution Hill, last month. Motsei’s book, published by Jacana, is the first to come out of the Jacob Zuma rape trial, and takes a strong line against the demonization of Zuma’s accuser, the 31-year-old HIV-positive AIDS activist dubbed “Kwezi”. Kwezi fled South Africa after the trial – and one of Motsei’s aims is to bring her back.


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The Urge to Condemn Mugabe Threatens Intellectual Independence

The urge to condemn Robert Mugabe seems to create an irresistible desire for acquiescence and a reckless disregard for intellectual independence, as shown by the overzealous “review” and profile of Ngugi wa Thiong’o by Maureen Isaacson in her 18 March Sunday Independent piece, “Mugabe surprisingly not on Thiong’ O’s list of goofball dictators”. (Note that only Independent subscribers can read articles online.)

Isaacson seems to have thrown away any interest in what Ngugi has to say in his novel Wizard of the Crow, and instead embarked on a one-woman drive to use her literary space to launch an assault on Robert Mugabe. It is doubtful if Isaacson read Wizard of the Crow ahead of the interview, because if she did she would have known that the text denounces in no uncertain terms any form of dictatorship, obviating the need to press Ngugi to “name names”.


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