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. Did you follow this year's Francophone Summit closely? What were your attitudes about it before the conference? Did they change at all as you watched the conference unfold?

i followed the summit though i would not say very closely. i was put off by the fact that it was hosted in africa and in the drc in particular where the people are still saddled with foreign interests disrupting their lives as the dog fights over resources continue unabated. it was a disgrace per my view for the kabila regime to host such a conference which is clearly not very beneficial to the people of the drc. africans should not really be promoting the agendas of their colonisers. instead they should, among other things, be finding out how kiswahili, which is widely spoken in central africa, can be propagated and used widely in africa. i have noticed that chishona and isindebele, spoken in zimbabwe, also have words that are found in kiswahili. that may become the language for africa. my attitude was of righteous indignation before and after the conference.

2. Did you respond to the Francophone Summit in other ways? Other types of writing, or discussions with others? Why did you choose to explore your feelings about the Summit in verse?

i discussed this matter with colleagues. of course as a poet i then decided to capture my feelings, intentions, tone etc in this genre. perhaps it comes naturally to me. i am a highly sensitive person and the best way for me to let off steam is to do so poetically!

3. Do you think there is a way that African countries can host colonially symbolic events or activities in a positive manner? Or are such events always inherently compromised?

as stated above africa should never have space to celebrate the colonial heritage at all. it is a fact that we are daily faced with the harsh reality of these adopted cultures but we should be taking a look back in order to step forward into the future as equal partners in a global village. so far it is conquest all the way. kabila sees it fit to celebrate our uselessness! that is my view. i am not preaching a romantic view of our african past but we have a unique identity. we have our downtrodden ways. i have spoken before about alien religions that divide our people. our religions have been hot iron branded as "pagan". this is the fight i am in! african languages should not be allowed to die. to me an african leader should not be at the forefront of spending the country's resources on celebrating something colonial. there is very little positive about it. the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. let me leave this for another day!

4. How do you feel about Zimbabwe, and yourself, being part of the English-speaking world? Do you think that is something worth celebrating? Criticizing?

being zimbabwean and also part of the english speaking world has always been a contradiction i live with. the harsh realities of life. i cannot advocate for the hosting of a conference celebrating the growth of english. even as i grapple with the language question, like my compatriot marechera did, i am keenly aware of the need to develop indigenous languages and put them on the same pedestal with english. these languages are what make us what we are. i have called myself a cultural bat. that symbolises that i have an identity crisis. yes i have. i have been taught that to use english is the way. i accept and reject that. confusion reigns here. that should not be!

5. It's been more than six months since we last spoke with you. How has your life been going since then? Your writing?

i have been deeply involved with masvingo arts platform. that group has lots of vibrant artists. we are going on. i am the chairperson of the group. i have been writing a lot. i have also been involved with leeroy gono of yocaf. it is a youth and cultural arts festival. i am bubbling with energy!

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