Jabulani Mzinyathi was born in 1965 in Ascot high density suburb, Gwelo, Rhodesia (now Gweru, Zimbabwe), to working class parents. He is a poet first and a writer in general. He is a qualified primary school teacher turned magistrate. He also holds a diploma in personnel management.
In 1997 he was awarded a diploma for excellence by the panel of judges of the Scottish international open poetry contest. He has had several poems and short stories published by magazines in Zimbabwe and abroad. He also used to write humour pieces for some newspapers in Zimbabwe. He has been a columnist for Moto magazine in Gweru, and wrote a legal column under the pen name ‘pro deo’. He was the vice chairman of the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe, Midlands branch and the chairman of the Zimbabwe Poetry Society.
He is still am writing. He has a blogspot; jabulanimzinyathi.blogspot.com. He writes poetry because it is how he feels he can better express himself and leave a legacy. All his work is organic in the sense that it is derived from his direct experiences. He draws a lot of inspiration from the events that happen daily around him.
Five Questions with Jabulani Mzinyathi:
1. Africa Day was this past Tuesday. Did you do anything to mark the occasion?
on africa day i composed yet another poem entitled "africa day introspection." it addressed the issue of repressive regimes on the continent and also the phenomenon of child soldiers. our children are wrenched from playgrounds and end up with minds befuddled by drugs and other intoxicants. they are taught to kill with impunity. we are robbed of the future in the senseless wars that are daily waged by greedy and corrupt rulers [not leaders]. at a personal level i also put messages on face book. i listened to reggae music and realised as i have always done that the link between the jamaican artists and the continent - africa has always been great. i urged people to listen to peter tosh who sang "i am not gonna give it up... i will be fighting 'til africa and africans are free." i listened to marley wail "africa unite." i proudly had my red, gold and green bracelets around my wrists.
2. If you care to expand on your poem, what feelings does Africa Day invoke in you?
africa day makes me have a deep desire to get back to leaders like abdel nasser and kwame nkrumah, that great ghanaian and fellow african. they gave us lots of lessons we may draw from. the continent largely is bereft of visionaries. this is a debatable point. i must salute the ghanaians though for their somewhat smooth transfer of power. i am not saying they are perfect but they have done commendably well!
3. Do you think all corners of Africa view Africa Day with the same regard? Do you think Zimbabweans may view the day differently than others?
africa day is not viewed the same everywhere on the continent. there are some of our brothers and sisters who have engaged in xenophobia in a shocking manner. they do not even view themselves as africans. how sad? there was not much hype in zimbabwe but i saw a pleasing level of awareness. the local media was awash with stories about africa day.
4. Yours is our second profile of a Zimbabwean poet in two weeks. What do you think of Mbizo Chirasha's account of the state of the country? The state of poetry in the country? Do you have any fresh observations of your own to add?
ah mbizo my compatriot is known to me at a personal level. he is an incisive social political commentator. i read his views and agree with him largely. the politicians should stop the senseless bickering and get on with the business of good governance and "bread and butter" issues (or is it "sadza issues," our staple diet). the power struggles do not seem to help the ordinary man on the streets.
about the state of poetry i can only say we are busy and are hopeful that as we come out of the economic morass we have been stuck in enterprising publishers will find it prudent to resurrect poetry. the genre has like other genres been badly trounced by the sad state of affairs. as society opens up and we espouse more tolerance for divergent views we may see the works getting published. do you hear me out there davy mungoshi, nhamo mhiripiri, memory chirere, chenjerai hove, hleko vuma, dillion banda and many others i know have been taking notes as we trudged through the difficult times starting around the late 1990s. the worst will soon be over!
5. Do you have any news or updates from your own writing life that you think our readers might be interested in?
i am working on several literary projects. i am working on numerous poems as well as a collection of short stories entitled "turning point" thanks to the encouragement of christopher mlalazi my compatriot and acclaimed writer. i am yet to do a collection of poems with emmanuel sigauke. we undertook to do it but we have been busy with other commitments.
i urge readers to check out jabulanimzinyathi.blogspot.com and do constructive criticism. i am not looking for praise singers. i will be writing still.