Author Profile - Jabulani Mzinyathi


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 blogs at:

Five Questions with Jabulani Mzinyathi:

1. You have written a series of poems dedicated to Dambudzo Marechera, of which this is but one example. What was it about Marechera that makes you so passionate about him?

to begin with marechera was or is my compatriot. that alone is great. secondly the man was a conundrum. he was a genius who was hardly understood. i still have not fully understood him. him? yes for he was a true artist. he lived his life to the fullest. he reached a very high level of self-actualisation. this is what i find fascinating. a child-like innocence permeated his work. when children are in the presence of adults mostly we fear being embarrased by their utterances. marechera had no sacred cows.

2. Do you think you've learned more from Marechera as a political/social actor, or as a poet (i.e. from his actions or his words)?

marechera lived the way he wrote and wrote the way he lived. he used words as bullets in his struggle. it is very difficult to say whether the actions or words influenced me. there is a close relationship between word and deed if one has the honesty of marechera. paulo freire calls it praxis: action - reflection - action. it is an endless cycle. it sounds confusing but then, as the bible says, "in the beginning was the word"!

3. Looking back to your first interview on OGOV, at that time you listed Marechera first among the poets who influenced your writer. Would you say this is still true?

marechera will forever influence me. he left an indelible mark in my life. i still treasure his works. each time i read his work i gain useful insights. a friend who wanted to sound erudite just lost my copy of House of Hunger. am not able to lay my hands on another copy. what a shame that his work is not readily available in his own country of birth.

4. Previously, you've written a tribute to Dennis Brutus that was published here at OGOV. Brutus, too, made your list of poets who have influenced your writing. Have you written tributes to other poets on that list? Is it a personal goal of yours to compose poems to all of those influential poets?

i have written poems celebrating the lives and works of mzwakhe mbuli, jack mapanje, chipasula, etc. i do not really plan these works. there is some level of spontaneity. i cannot say i have really set a goal to compose poems in tribute to great poets or influential ones. i just find myself doing what i have to do. the road is long!

5. Do you think younger Zimbabwean poets have an appreciation for those who came before them? If not, what can be done about that?

the system of education must change really. yes, young poets appreciate the works of marechera, zvobgo edison, chenjerai hove but a lot still needs to be done. the system of education must undergo a revolution. shakespeare should come later. local works must take precedence!

Contact Jabulani:

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