MANY young people growing up in this Digital Age do not see the value of printed literature.
With this reading culture limping, the literary scene could also be losing potential writers. However, we still have some youngsters rising to the occasion, putting on their creative hats and coming up with interesting works.
At 20, Obed Mandava is already proving to be a gifted poet, stitching together a Shona anthology titled “Nhasi Huku Ndeyako”.
Mandava proves that age is but a number, with poems that show maturity and understanding of his society. Creativity and vocabulary that fuse pure Shona with modern colloquialisms give this collection an edge that will leave cuts on the reader’s imagination.
He covers a wide range of themes including love, unity, xenophobia and independence among many others, displaying quite a creative scope.
In some of the poems Mandava tackles topical issues of the day like that of skin bleaching in “Kufambidzana Nenhambo”.
The poem talks about a girl whose face is light-skinned, but her hands, ears and back tell us that she really is dark in complexion.
“Pasi Rasanduka” bemoans ignorance of tradition as modernisation takes over our day-to-day lives.
Here, Mandava highlights some practices and language patterns that have changed over time: “Yaimbova Makadii, Nhasi Ndeipi. Taiziva ndakasimba, Nhasi softaz.” (“Where we used to say how are you we now say what’s up, we knew the reply being I am alright, and today it is ‘softaz’.”)
Although the young writer still has to grow in terms of impactful language use, his clarity is certainly a strength.
On the whole, one forgets that this is a first-time offering because he really does well in his pursuit.
Mandava dreams of an Africa without foreign-induced wars, an Africa united with all countries refusing to be derailed by external influences (“Shuviro Yangu”). Earlier this year, another wave of violence swept across South Africa claiming African lives and leaving thousands of people displaced. Mandava has something to say about this in “Xenophobia” where calls for continental unity and understanding.
The poet also hails the peace which we enjoy in Zimbabwe, attributing this to our National Defence Forces.
“Uto” is a poem in which Mandava thanks and praises our men and women in uniform for the great work they are doing to ensure that peace and stability.
“Mwari anesu. Mauto, Arikukwenenzwera. Masoja emhando, Mhando yepamusoro! Mune runyararo, Kana kanoti nyo’ Kamhirizhonga. Kana Kahondo,” writes Mandava.
If we were to have more young people with a passion for writing like Mandava, our local literature legacy would be in safe hands.
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