Choto’s explosive anthology

Andrew Moyo Beyond The Cover
PROTECTING and serving the public in the Zimbabwe Republic Police uniform is the path that Fabian Choto chose despite other opportunities coming his way.

Ignoring the hectic schedule that comes with his job, he still managed to pursue a passion he developed many years ago during his high school days — poetry.

Late last year Choto published his debut Shona poetry anthology “Wajaira”, which is made up 21 well-crafted pieces.

The poet tackles various issues including love, hate, nature, the liberation struggle and cultural diffusion, among other things. For a first attempt, this book is really interesting in many aspects with the writer displaying his vast talent and creativity.

Choto exploits the rich Shona language, making use of various poetic devices to great effect. By just looking at the title, I was already curious to find out what the book was about and to be honest I was not disappointed.

To ensure that his readers understand what he talks about in his poems, the writer added paraphrased English translations at the end of each piece. In the poem “Chadenga”, the writer creatively describes how the sky changes at various times and seasons. “Chadenga wandikatyamadza, shanduko yako yandikatyamadza, ukagova nekubwinya kwenyenyedzi muchirimo, ukagoti tsvaa wongochema nehasha muzhizha, ukagoonekwa nekupenya kwadzo mheni, uri unotinhira zvinodziirira rumwe ruzha rwose.”

The poet is fascinated by how the sky can be calm and have shining stars during one season, but can change into an angry thunderstorm in another.

I have to give it to him, Choto really knows how to play around with words and his style makes for intriguing reading.

Most of the poems are thought-provoking, carrying powerful massages that are meant to reinforce societal values.

It cannot be disputed that global trends have been taking over, which has seen our own cultural values being swept aside.

This issue is addressed in “Mwanasikana muZimbabwe Yakasununguka”, which speaks about a young lady who has lost her moral values with the belief that she has the right to express herself in a free Zimbabwe.

The poem also highlights that the carefree attitude that is characteristic of some youths, who seem to think that they are wiser than everyone else has devastating consequences.

“Nairwo Urwu Rusununguko” is another poem that is written in memory of heroes of the liberation struggle. The poet likens the road from colonialism to freedom to that of a pregnant woman until she gives birth.

Choto says that people should not ignore the pain that was felt while giving birth to the nation that is Zimbabwe and unite for the country to prosper. “Ko kana nayo nyika neyayo, neyayo nzira yakapona: Tochirega kuipa hutana nhasi, toipa hosha mukunongedzana, Aa, ngatidananei, ngatibatanei, tivake madzimbabwe.”

He also preaches unity in “Ndichinge Ndiri Ndanyora”, a poem in which he talks about some of his reasons for writing.

His ability to switch from one topic to the next with fluidity will definitely keep the reader interested with the writer expertly manoeuvring around many themes.

As far as Shona poetry goes, this is a brilliant collection that will go a long way in promoting the local language.

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