Mbizo Chirasha, An Introduction to the Poet, His Poetry and His Fame

Interview with Mbizo Chirasha Ashvamegh by Alok MishraMbizo Chirasha is an internationally acclaimed Performance poet, Writer, Creative /Literary Projects Specialist, an Advocate of Girl Child Voices and Literacy Development.He is the Founder and Projects Curator of a multiple Community, Literary, and Grassroots Projects including Girl Child Creativity Project, Girl Child Voices Fiesta, Urban Colleges Writers Prize, and Young Writers Caravan. Mbizo Chirasha has worked with NGOS and other institutions as an Interventionist [using creative arts as models of community education, information dissemination and dialogue].The interventions include HIV/AIDS Branding Project [Social Family Health Namibia 2009 – 2010 ], HIV/AIDs Nutrition Project[Catholic  Relief Services 2006] , Arts for Drought Mitigation[Swedish Cooperative Centre2006]. He is widely published in more than Hundred Journals, Magazines, and Anthologies around the world. He Co-edited Silent Voices Tribute to Achebe Poetry Anthology, Nigeria and the Breaking Silence Poetry anthology,Ghana.His Poetry collections include Good Morning President, Diaspora Publishers , 2011 , United Kingdom and Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zambezi,Cyberwit Press ,India ,2010. He was the Poet-in-Residence from 2001-2004 for the Iranian embassy/UN Dialogue among Civilizations Project; Focal Poet for the United Nations Information Centre from 2001-2008; Convener/Event Consultant. This Africa Poetry Night 2004 – 2006; Official Performance Poet  Zimbabwe International Travel Expo in 2007; Poet in Residence of the International Conference of African Culture and Development/ ICACD 2009; and Official Poet Sadc Poetry Festival, Namibia 2009.In 2010 Chirasha was invited as an Official Poet in Residence of ISOLA Conference in Kenya.

Mbizo Chirasha Interview Done by Alok Mishra

Alok Mishra: What inspired you to become a poet, sir? You belong to such a part of globe that had been kept bereaved from its share in the global literature for a longer period of time. How much did it impact your inspirations?

Mbizo Chirasha: Yes Africa was behind in terms of literary arts and its recognition and publicity was lagging, I am touched today and at this time that the global players are interested in African Voices. I am inspired by that lack of recognition and make us as wordsmith to work hard, to seek attention, to shape up, to realize our energy and share experiences with the present global players trying to bury the cold and literary doomed past of African Literary Arts, as a poet I speak and write about the complexities and realities of life. I am inspired by tests of my youth, the tests to my creativity, tests of my national political discourses, hard times make strong. I am also inspired by global exchange.

Alok Mishra: What type of poetry do you write the most? What are the themes?

Mbizo Chirasha: I write sharp irony, visual imagery and African Symbolism and metaphor. My themes span from afro-centricism, negrititude, social ills, economic meltdown, African history and African ideologies and their tragedies. I am the griot of my people. I write about the sweetness and the bitterness of time. I want see Africa singing the jazz of time than the blues of night.

Alok Mishra: Once you wrote, ‘for it was not an easy walk/ to freedom’. There comes the role of nostalgia and that woe, sir. What impact does the past and that long struggle plays in your writings?

Mbizo Chirasha: The long struggle of Africa is the backbone of writing to many Africans before and after political freedom, it is the fodder of every creative writer. It is my story that needs to be told, though the story can shift to post-modern Africa, where also dreams of those who struggled are dashed by political elite and class and the struggle principles are dropped by the leadership elite, like that in Animal. The tension of the African mounts again into the climax of civil wars were African fight against each other further  dashing the prospects of the long awaited freedom. Then the question will be like why struggle after struggle? The curves again, I mean the African where become a patient in intensive care under the sickening yoke of Ibola, cholera, malaria. However though riddled by all these ills Africa, is endowed with abundant natural gems and monuments, rich in minerals, sunshine, the falls, the big five, deserts, rainforest, savannah miombo, savannah acacia, savannah tundra, the Serengeti, the mulanje, shungunamutitima, the falls, ngajengaremt kilimanjaro, the nile, nzere river, beautiful languages, the karanga, the tonga, the hausa, Fulani, Swahili, zulu, tumbuka etc.

Alok Mishra: As a student of English Literature, I have studied papers on ‘Black Literature,’ and ‘Literature by Black’. How far do you concur that the representation in the book is the actual image?

Mbizo Chirasha: Let me say literature by black sounds racist  though it is the reality of both history and present and yes Africans have created rich literature and thus important. And I think it’s good for global students to find literature by black as their fodder to regurgitate in understanding African culture, ideologies, anthropologies through literature created by blacks or Africans themselves, though black literature for me does not satisfy because, it is a borrowed literature. That was written for blacks or about or on blacks by other scholars who might exaggerate or distort our literature. Africans or blacks need to tell their story like everyone else.

Alok Mishra: What does your poem “Anthem of The Black Poet” try to reflect?

Mbizo Chirasha: The poem reflects the need to be realistic. It is a reflection in quest of identity freedom. It reflects a geopolitical history. It simply tries to theorise the need for being real and honest to the happenings of the world. The poem is also a political, cultural, spiritual allusion in the mentioning of African mediums, heroes and heroines.

Alok Mishra: There are some ‘white’ critics who claim that the poets and authors from the ‘black’ world keep bragging about their race. How do you respond to it, sir?

Mbizo Chirasha: Issues of race are complex, I think, history speaks of us that way, it’s unfortunate though, hope one day will move from this racial cocoon. I think to be black, or African, white or Indian is not even racial but rather it’s more of roots, origin, language but we are just a global who have havens where they originate from, everyone must have name tag, identity, culture, tradition, roots that he or she should be proud of. History can be a good, bad, real or better teacher.

Alok Mishra: Now as the readership of poetry is in decline, how far do you see poetry putting an impact on the society?

Mbizo Chirasha: I disagree. Poetry has become the household name mostly in Africa; it has become a study in schools, colleges, universities and homes. You get it everywhere though with much greater market in terms of purchase, but the poetic voice is serenading across mountains, terrains and valleys, me and you – we can work to strengthen the whole poetry market.

Alok Mishra: Do you have any new writing projects at hand, sir?

Mbizo Chirasha: Yes I am sitting over every day for a poetry time bomb that I will share in January, I have completed 2 poetry projects that are underway publishing in USA and UK, I cannot open up about them now. You will be the first to read them, let’s keep in touch. I am also putting together the story of my life that I can work together with you but I want it to be in print form and e-form.

Alok Mishra: Well, many thanks for making me the first reader and someone to collaborate with you, sir. What is your message to our readers?

Mbizo Chirasha: They need to continue supporting the literary arts through sharing, experiencing it and supporting it through promotion of readership in colleges and universities to grow the genre leaps and bounds.

Alok Mishra: Thank you for your time sir, and wish you all the best for the future writing projects.

Mbizo Chirasha: I am quite humbled by your gesture, let’s keep keeping on, thank you for promoting African poetry and literature and make the world hear and read my opinions.