The Book café in Harare used to be the only platform and space that developed , exposed and promoted literary arts projects in Zimbabwe .It had become a household arts venue under the curatorship of highly talented and creative the late Paul Brickhill (may his soul rest in eternal peace). The book café organised and hosted arts festivals , book launches and official functions by NGOS and Arts groups. One of the book café ‘s greatest achievement was the creation of a poetry platforms, the House of Hunger Poetry Slam and the Mondays Open Mic Sessions . I am a product of the Book Café creative interventions , the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe , the Zimbabwe Writers Union , the Zimbabwe International Book fair and of course the Zimbabwe book development council. The House of Hunger Poetry Slam and Open Mic sessions shaped us. Some of artists and poets who grew up at the Book Café include myself, Mbizo Chirasha , Michael Kudakwashe , Edgar Langaveldt , Sam Munro( Cde Fatso- Founder of Magamba Network and Shoko festival) ,Thando Sibanda ( now with American Embassy), Innocent Fungurani( Poet Answer) Michael Mabwe( now with American Embassy) , Batsirai Chigama ( now a published poet),Robson Shoes Lambada( Coordinator ZUSA and an established performance poet) , Extra Blessings Kuchera ( now with British Council Zimbabwe) Linda Gabriel ( now a recorded poet of global acclaim) , UMIND( powerful writer ,organizer and slam poet) , Cynthia Marangwada( now an award winning and published writer) .The list is endless.
During my artistic internship at the Book Café .I met many prominent artists the likes of Chirikure Chirikure , Hugh Masekela , Dudu Manhenga , Victor Kunonga , David Mungoshi , Memory Chirere , Ignatius Mabasa ,Tsitsi Dangarembwa and more . Most of these people inspired me grow.
It is quite refreshing that Tsungie Manyeza , Chirikure Chirikure ,Litfest and Zimbabwean Slam Poets are taking over from where the book café left from and it’s heartening that such a big project like the Lafarge Poetry Slam is all inclusive and is promoting the literary arts in Zimbabwe despite our difficult economic landscape . It is quite important and mesmerizing ,when international organisations like Lafarge embrace arts and recognise poetry as a major component for human and national development . I say poetry is the language of life .Lafarge is actually growing the poetry and literary arts sector in Zimbabwe. Poetry is my language, it is the language of my life .It is the language of Kudakwashe Murombedzi( Da Voice) , Tatenda Chinoda( Dhege) , Happias Msinde( our Hamutyineyi reincarnate) and many other participating poets in this Lafarge and Litfest sponsored national event. The Lafarge Poetry Festival takes poetry to another level through this highly represented and creatively powered grand slam .Let the Poets Speak and let the country and its leaders open their ears to hear from these voices of wisdom.
TOGETHER WE BUILD ZIMBABWE through Lafarge and Poetry. To all poets , writers ,poetry lovers , arts lovers and sponsors 23rd of June 2018 is a great day and a day that cannot be erased from our memories .
MBIZO CHIRASHA is an internationally anthologized poet , literary arts project curator , creative humanist , arts activism catalyst , blogs publisher and a Writer in Residence . He is the Solidarity member of GAPA( Global Arts and Political Alliance),the African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival, the Resident Coordinator of 100 Thousand Poets for Change- Global, the Founder of GirlChildCreativity Project , the Facilitator of the Creative Leadership and Artistic Training Project , Chirasha is the Editor of the Brave Voices Poetry journal , he is the Originator of the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Campaign. He writes for the Tuck Magazine- the International magazine on Arts Human Rights and Politics.