Author Profile - Jabulani Mzinyathi

Biography:

Jabulani Mzinyathi was born on 01.09.65 in Ascot high density suburb, Gwelo, Rhodesia (now Gweru, Zimbabwe), to working class parents. He is a qualified primary school teacher turned magistrate, and he 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 once wrote humour pieces for some newspapers in Zimbabwe, and was a columnist for Moto magazine, Gweru. He has served both as the vice-chairman of the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe, and as chairman of the Zimbabwe Poetry Society.

Jabulani has a blog at: jabulanimzinyathi.blogspot.com. Some of his poems are featured in the upcoming Mensa Press anthology Whispers in the Whirlwind: A collection of Poems about Socio-Economic Challenges in Africa.




Five Questions with Jabulani Mzinyathi:

1. This is your second profiled poem to be connected with a picture you took. Is this a new trend in your writing practice? What motivated you to start pairing photos and poems?
poetry and photography for me go hand in glove. they are about images. poetry involves painting images with words. on the other hand photography is painting images with light. i have always loved combining the two. i have kept some of the works in drawers for there was little appreciation. a fellow poet mgcini nyoni has pioneered a project in zimbabwe on this combination. he has greatly inspired me. now the works are out. the confidence is growing.


2. In the case of this poem, which came first, the photo or the poem? Is the process for this poem representative of your general process (i.e. do you always start with the photos, or always start with the poems)?
i saw the station wagon and immediately decided to write a poem which kind of personifies it. so yes the photo triggered the thoughts that became the poem. usually the photo comes first then the words follow. at times the poem and photography happen simultaneously. at times the photo is taken then serious meditation takes place. rarely does the poem come first.


3. Do you expect the poems you write with accompanying photos to stand on its own without the photos, or should they always be displayed together?
when poetry meets photography, the two should be displayed together. viewers and readers will enjoy both and even come up with their own poems or stories based on the photos. there has to be that engagement. i will have accomplished my task if readers and viewers enjoy both the poetry and the photography.


4. What is the state of care for the elderly in Zimbabwe right now? What simple steps, if any, can be taken to improve the situation in the short term?
there is per my view very little being done to care for the elderly. those that have no children are put in old people's homes - these are not really homes, they are human dump sites. the elderly are tucked away and forgotten. this is an alien concept to most of us in africa. those with childrean are no better either. the children grapple with economic hardships and fail to fend for their aged parents. the family unit is severely battered. maybe the powers that be should have the elderly access water, electricity and other needs at reduced rates. that is why i have advocated for a senior citizens act. for want of space it is enough to state that the elderly should also get benefits from social welfare.


5. In your last interview, you talked about the important role of politics in African poetry. Do you consider "Time Up" to be a political poem? Why or why not?
given the above stance this poem is political. the policy makers must realise that the elderly who have been active economically all their lives deserve better than the paltry slave peanuts termed pensions. many pensioners now do not even bother to go to the banks to access the pittance, as the cost of travelling to the bank far outweighs the pittance. my people are educated enough to do a cost benefit analysis. are we not the country with the highest literacy levels on the continent?

Contact Jabulani:
Email:jmzinyathi1(at)yahoo.co.uk
Website: http://jabulanimzinyathi.blogspot.com/
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