7 February 2018

Zimbabwe: Books On Development, Activism Launched

Two self-published books titled "Beyond Politics: A Proposal for Zimbabwean Development" (2018) by Charline Vuta and "Aluta Continua (The Struggle Continues)" (2018) by Kudakwashe Manjonjo were officially launched last Friday at Angwa City in Harare.

Themed "Spark and Fire: Building a New Zimbabwe", the dual book launch was but an opening up of two young voices with illuminating ideas put forward in different forms. Both books deal with the fundamentals of people-driven democracy from varying perspectives with main focus on Zimbabwe. Speaking at the launch, 23-year-old author Charline Vuta said the solution for Zimbabwe's problems lies beyond politics.

"Beyond politics is about you and me," said Vuta.

In her 100-page book, Vuta proposes a number of processes that she thinks can guide the country to an opportunity-filled tomorrow. In the book, she speaks on the Zimbabwean Vision, Collective Responsibility, Prioritisation of Resources, Zimbabwean Sectorial Integration, Impact of Arts and Humanities-oriented Degrees on Zimbabwe's Economy, Restructuring Zimbabwe Economy Through Arts and Humanities Graduates, Reviving the Pension System, Youth Empowerment and other developmental issues.

Her opinions are presented in a clear language; her standpoint is against far-fetched policies which are disassociated from real development. "Development defines politics" is the theme that runs through her book.

Linda Tsungirirai Masarira, one of the 'guest readers' of "Beyond Politics", gave her comments on the book at the launch. She said the outstanding feature of this book is that it is concerned with the youth as "it reflects deep insights, substance-filled proposals for the new political dispensation". Masarira is a human rights defender, socioeconomic and political activist.

Manjonjo spoke about his book "Aluta Continua", a short story collection which celebrate some of the activists ever to emerge in Zimbabwe. He drove home the message about the misinterpretation of the work of activists all over the world. "Aluta Continua" is a surprise anthology of political fiction, awakening readers once again to read between its lines.

The main trap of political fiction lies in its sometimes becoming one-sided and propagandist. Manjonjo seem to be aware of the trap yet in some stories one could clearly identify the characters, what they stood for and who they fought against.

"Do not look at activists as people who are crazy, because they want you to see a dream that you have forgotten, a dream for good life, a good family, a good job, a good business, within Zimbabwe," Manjonjo said.

In "Aluta Continua", Manjonjo uses fiction to express the purpose of activism. It is an anthology that defends activism within a Zimbabwean context. Manjonjo's hand at knitting together an engaging fiction is commendable, demonstrating how the activist-characters inspire a humanitarian spirit and influence public debate on issues affecting a people.

What the collection does not hide is its certain 'bitterness' where it mentions certain real life figures and institutions, although the author compensates this anger with some subtle milieu of love relationships which evolve during the hardest, challenging political times.

The nine stories that make up the collection are "Fanon's Wife", "My Brother's Keeper", "Calm in the Storm", "Revolutionary Lover", Section D", "Traitors", "The Maid", "Confessions" and "The Ride to Freedomtown".

Guest of Honor Professor Jephias Matunhu said authors have a huge responsibility, that is, to share ideas, and he went on to say he was extremely happy for Vuta, who is also his student at Midlands State University, and Manjonjo.

Professor Matunhu, an expert in development, said the books are a must-read as "they avail advice in many forms from different perspectives". He however had his own advice for the youths whom he said are being misdirected by social media which often carries "messages that derail your mind in the right direction".

The Friday double book launch happened a week after another book launch took place at Harare City Library. And it seems book launches are setting the tone for the 2018 literary year. Phillip Chidavaenzi will be launching his book "Give Me Souls, Or I Die" on the 17th and though details are yet to be confirmed, Charlton Tsodzo will launch his book on the 22nd at the Theatre in the Park.

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