This week on Monday Morements, Edward Dzonze talks to writer and academic Temba Munsaka – a golden writer and master of verse. A distinguished writer poised for greater heights .
E.D :Firstly, who is Temba Munsaka in brief.
T.M :Temba is the demented scribe, a simple enough Zimbabwean who loves anything literary! My background is in developmental science and my passion is writing! I come from Binga, first born amongst many. I love life and subscribe to the concept of thriving!
E.D :When did you wake up to the scribe in you?
T.M :The humongous Binga proboscidean (my totem) bull woke up to some serious writing in 2016 when I published my prophetic fictional novel, The Fall of a Despot which was published by Partridge Africa, a division of Penguin Books. Since then, I have published several academic papers and working on seven fictional works. But the truth is that since High School (Binga High School) I have always loved reading and writing. I won several poetry writing contests at school then
E.D :Your featured poem; The Foul Mouthed Grub is a political satire full of imagery and metaphors. In plain view, how much have dirty politics failed the electorate in their quest for a better living?
T.M :By far and large, literature is informed by topical issues in contemporary society; it is apparent therefore that dirty politics has failed the people like bad apples. They roam the streets adorning in designer wear, driving the latest autos but they dont care about the people that voted them in. This is not just a local problem, it is an African problem. The concept of accountability is alien to Africa, a political office is a means to acquire, loot (resources or otherwise!) and overtake those who would have been elected before the incumbents. The problem filters through to private sector and all other sectors of the economy including the supposed watch dogs (civil society). Corruption is the number 1 enemy to public accountability and economic growth. The question that most abstract thinkers ask is, WHO SHALL GUARD THE GUARD? For those mandated to govern over us are the very architects of our problems! I in essence, it means that we are, our own undoing (by voting them in, we literally sanction their action!)
E.D :The inference of Trump losing a trump card strikes me as a key thread .In what ways can we take him for a failure in politics despite failing to get a second term of office?
T.M :Trump took voters for granted! He assumed a superiority and arrogant approach, his flaw was that he never thought that he would be voted out. Maybe he relied on statistics in that most American presidents got second terms. He was a total disgrace and a dictator in the making. I will only congratulate the American people when he literally steps down. They are still a long way off to freedom. The American vote is a lesson to all African leaders, voters can get you out without notice! The only problem with African politics is that, elections can be stolen willy-nilly. Voting, sometimes is just a charade and waste of resources to give semblance of democratic space.
E.D :What themes do you usually write about and maybe what’s the drive?
T.M : I mostly write about topical issues in our space; love, politics, my feelings and experiences. The drive always is to write! My motto is; Writers Write!
E.D :Of what essence is poetry towards socio-economic transformation?
T.M :Poetry captures the imagination of bards, those imaginations represent peoples daily experiences. We are artists that become the voice on behalf of the voiceless. Poetry cannot be alienated from the everyday experiences. Poets are the best romantics! The concept of romanticism is the driving force behind our calligraphy! We are the voice in the wilderness, proclaiming all and sundry that happens in society with the hope that those that be will change for the better.
E.D :Would you care to comment about the state of poetry in Zimbabwe….
T.M :Zimbabwe poetry is right at the top in terms of quality and delivery. Just one challenge though, alas, three;
(1)-Lack of state organized scholarship & erudition on poetry. This is due to the fact that most poems speak to the economic & political injustices. It is like asking your own father to be the judge in a case where he is also the rapist. This is a unique position
(2)Lack of publishing houses that put a lot of attention into poetry. Most of these houses, lack the financial muscle to prefund publishing of anthologies. Even where one gets published, the house or the poet has no budget for marketing and book shows, it means that very few people will even know about the books
(3)-Writing poems doesnt pay in Zimbabwe. The reading culture is dead in Zimbabwe, people would rather watch a game of soccer than read or recite poems. In fact, most people think that poems are about love only. Those that make a little money from poetry do so from the spoken word.
E.D :Is the current crop of writers doing enough to spell their names on the literary map and what would be your justification?
T.M :There is a lot of written work in Zimbabwe but sadly most of it is yet to be published. These writers have no resources to fund the costs of editing, publishing and other related costs, which unfortunately (to publishers & editors) are not too expensive but unreachable still to most writers. I believe that developmental organizations can do more to help get best manuscripts published
E.D :The digital era have come to stay, what avenues should the morden writer consider to keep afloat ? Is technological advancement a pro or a con to the morden writer…
T.M :Any writer that denies the digital world in their work does so at their own peril. The contemporary world is techno-driven, the needs, wants, passions etc. is shifting and any modern writer must be malleable in their views and adapt or die. Fewer and fewer people buy hard cover books with the advent of soft copies and audio books nowadays. My parting word to fellow writers is; adapt or die!
E.D :What can we expect from The Demented Scribe In terms of poetry .An Ode to Shawna seem to have found a home already among fellow griots…
T.M :An Ode to Shawna is dedicated to my ideal kind of a damsel! The book has 100 pieces. These poems focus on love, politics, death, corruption, COVID-19, comedy, literature and other areas of interest. For the next ninety days, my focus will be to complete the sequel to Kill Box (novel). Then, thereafter I desire to work on the second poetry volume maybe in collaboration with other bards
E.D :Any parting remarks…links to your craft and contact details
T.M : Artists are not begging for a morsel to survive, buy the Art and see them feed the nation