The Road to Zvegona, a poem by Poet-in-Exhile Mbizo Chirasha; Update on Mbizo’s situation; Calls for Submissions to Brave Voices Poetry Journal

See a procession of young mothers chattering their way
From water fountains in grenade torn sandals
And blood laced bras
Decade of Bullets, Mbizo Chirasha



Is fading the memory of its son,
Who for words must ride the night
Fleeing ears that hear thunder on a babies purity guggle,
Zvegona, my homestead,
Ancestors are watching
Elders on a scheming mission
Trading lies with more lies
The road to Zvegona
Your Sideroads sigh
Your song is silent
Only hiccups of mothers greet the sun
Yearning for the return of the bearded child
Who lives on the strings of truth
Truth refused a seat at the council of baboons on the lagoons
Goons settling scores on the assumptions that a boy has a price,
Well, the boy true has a price
But not one you can pay with looted coins
The boy has shaved his hair not his brains
The boy has slipped his boots on and truth has raised its flag
And the spirits of truth sing his Achilles heels on,
So Zvegona, the village of the lucky poet,
Grow thistles and thorns
Feed cattle and goats
The boy has shaved his beard
Ready for a walk back, to shave the land of all pretentious shenanigans
Uprooting the weeds and weevils
Repair the kraal too,
Where roosters shall announce light unto the land,
Currently bent double under the gargantuan weight of lying tongues.
Zvegona, you are my yesterday
Zvegona, you are my tomorrow in whatever form, shape or …….

© 2019, Mbizo Chirasha

UPDATE ON MBIZO

Mbizo is still in hiding with irregular access to water, food, computer and Wifi. Nonetheless, he continues working at his mission including  NOTICE FREEDOM VOICES PRIZE  and BRAVE VOICES POETRY JOURNAL and Womawords Literary Press.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The first New Look Brave Voices Poetry Journal will be out by the 15th of December 2019. It is a Christmas gift. Our deadline for articles [and poetry] is the 10th of December 2019. We look  forward to contributions and features with a length of 1500 words. You can send these in the body of mail with photos as attachments. Please include your publishable photos and a fifteen line bio to bravevoicespoetry@gmail.com

Yours creatively ,
Mbizo Chirasha- Brave Voices Poetry Journal Curator

We’ve received letters of support to go in Mbizo’s applications for grants and safe harbor, but the Go-Fund-Me effort is still not to goal, which would provide for the immediate need for pantry staples, computer, and so forth. Without predictable computer access, Mbizo has not yet been able to do his interview with the Canadian radio show, though the offer still stands.

International Human Rights Festival, the entity that sponsored Mbizo’s Go-Fund-Me, has attracted $480 and raised the goal to $750.  They have cut him some partial funding for now.  Meanwhile, folks, I suggest that if enough of us donated the price of one morning latte, we’d make the goal.  What do you say? A whole bunch of tidbits would combine for a whole lot of success. You can make your donation anonymously HERE.

If you are able and interested in helping in any way, you can contact Mbizo directly at: girlchildcreativity@gmail.com

“We remain resilient in the quest for justice, freedom of expression and upholding of human rights through Literary Activism and Artivism. ALUTA CONTINUA.” Mbizo Chirasha

RELATED
MBIZO CHIRASHA is a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017), Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York. 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Gangesand Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.

Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Part 3 of 3: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Mbizo Chirasha, Call for Action – Here’s where the rubber hits the road!

Mbizo Chirasha

“I am a Zimbabwean, Zimbabwe is the country in which I was born. It is my country. I don’t have another home except Zimbabwe. I need to live freely in my country of birth. Why do I not get the freedom I need? I wait and watch people gambling and playing games with my life, my freedom, my peace, my health  and any other freedoms.

“Political affiliation – I do not belong to any political party because of my job. My job is very much global and universal. I am a Poet, Writer, Blogger and Organizer of Events. I am supposed to work with anyone or everybody. I am supposed to relate and associate with every Zimbabwean irrespective of affiliation because I am apolitical in my standing.

“My problem – I have been seeing strange stalking, attacks and threats soon after the Lit fest of 2017. I was quiet after the first attack but now I felt it is getting scary, dangerous and life threatening. I need to open up to the government, Media, International Organisations and  the Zimbabwe Human Rights Organizations because I don’t know who is doing this to me and who is planning to take my life and don’t  know for what major reason.” Mbizo Chirasha, Tuck Magazine, February 2017 / the finer details of the threat are described HERE.



HERE’S WHERE THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD

YES! This is a long-shot but all you have to sacrifice is a few minutes of time over your morning coffee to write two letters for Mbizo. If nothing else, it will show this man that people care. When he has safe harbor, he’ll continue his literary activism (as he does even now under threat) and he’ll be able to reach out a helping hand to others in peril. So please stand with us.  Thank you!

LETTER WRITNG CAMPAIGN IN SUPPORT OF MBIZO’S APPLICATIONS FOR SERVICES and SAFE HARBOR:

We need two letters. Please simply throw your support behind Mbizo by encouraging these organizations to provide timely assistance.

  1. International Cities of Refugee Network (ICORN) c/o Sølvberget KF,
    Stavanger Cultural Centre
    p.o. box: 310 4002 Stavanger
    Norway
    ICORN’s mission is “protecting and promoting writers and artists at risk.”  I’ve read Mbizo’s paperwork. Responses to his 2017 application for assistance repeatedly indicate that his paperwork is in process but no action has been taken by ICORN on Mbizo’s behalf over the two years since he filed for safe haven.
  2. Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a project of PEN America “Since its inception in 2017, ARC has assisted more than 181 individual artists from over 53 countries by connecting them to a wide range of services, most frequently including emergency funds, legal assistance, temporary relocation programs and fellowships. Thanks to a core network of over 70 partners, over 50% of them have already received direct support. Please write a letter in support of Mbizo’s application to an ARC partner agency.  He will include it in his application package, which is being prepared now.

CONNECT:

  • Connect with Mbizo on Facebook or email him at girlchildcreativity@gmail.com about the letters.
  • The deadline is :  14th November 2019. Thank you!

~~~~~~

gofundme: Mbizo Chirasha: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile

One Thomas Block of Human Rights International organized this fundraiser asking for $575 to address some immediate welfare needs. Be aware that this is a bandage not a cure, so even if you find yourself able to donate (please!), we still need you to write letters of support. At the time of this posting, $150 has been raised. Link HERE for details and to donate.

OCTOBER 30, 2019:
“We in the United States cannot really understand how poetry can become a dangerous activity. But in societies around the world, our activist-artist colleagues risk their lives for justice and art. Just two days ago, Mbizo’s activist-art brother, Zimbabwean musician Platinum Prince was abducted and beaten in Harare. His crime? In September of this year Platinum Prince released a track entitled NDIYO YACHO HERE MR PRESIDENT in which he seemed to be questioning the President of Zimbabwe over the current economic situation. We stand with Mbizo.” Thomas Block, International Human Rights Art Festival Organizer
~~~~~~~~

“We remain resilient in the quest for justice, freedom of expression and upholding of human rights through Literary Activism and Artivism. ALUTA CONTINUA.” Mbizo Chirasha

RELATED:

MBIZO CHIRASHA is a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017), Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York. 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Gangesand Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.



Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Part 1 of 3: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview

Mbizo Chirasha

“Mother Africa survived the trauma of clanging chains of captivity during slave trade, shackles of colonialism, and winced from beatings of hard bolt nut clenched fists of apartheid. Children and grandchildren of Mother Africa watched helplessly her sorrowful dance to the acoustics of sufferance. Still, Africa remains resilient … smashing punches from kindred’s of neocolonialism: global village, digital revolution and consumerism. Mama Africa’s groin is ripped apart by her triplets: totalitarian regimes, economic malaise and moral decadence. Today Mother Africa of pyramids, Africa of Nefertiti , Africa of Lumumba, Africa of Mandela, Africa of Kambarage , Africa of Lithium , Africa of diamond and Africa of uranium wallow in murky waters of poverty, chronic civil wars, and deadly epidemics.” Mbizo Chirasha, Editor, Brave Voices Poetry Journal.



Orthographic map of Africa courtesy of Martin23230 C BY-SA 3.0

When I was a junior in high school (circa 1966), our civics/history teacher said that Africa was a continent of much promise because of its diverse populations, its biodiversity, mineral resources, endless beauty, and its arts and wisdom traditions. She was right, of course. As a consequence, we spent several months of that school year studying the promise of Africa and its peoples.

For years after, Africa haunted me: Mosi-oa-Tunya, birds hitching rides on giraffeswhite rhinos, the rhythms of kebero drums and the swing-and-sway of folk dance, the injera, the wat, and the niter kibby.  But our teacher’s great vision of Africa’s promise was largely unfulfilled. Blame it on the fall-out from old-and-new waves of colonialism, apartheid, and corporate land-grab and land-rape. What could have been a place of hope and high expectation is rife with turmoil, poverty, and suffering. It is a place where poets who speak out against violent despots and greedy kleptocrats put themselves at great risk in doing so. Today, I have the pleasure of featuring Mbizo Chirasha, one such poet. He is dedicated to gender equity, environmental justice, and human rights and he is on the run . / J.D.

INTERVIEW

JAMIE: What were the events in your life that lead you to socially engaged poetry?

MBIZO: My father was a storyteller, an African traditionalist, a
singer and a village griot. I grew up listening to the sound of the
wind of the drum. Ritual and ancestral ceremonies were the norm
and usually accompanied  by spiritual song, dance, drum and chants. I
was introduced to words at a  tender age and more over to
sounds of chirruping birds, syntactic over night hooting of owls,
the rhythmic dove cooos, the dance and the smile of white moon. I am a
grandchild of African proverb.

I am a child of war. I was born during the Zimbabwean struggle for independence.
My ears sedimented to the clap of gun shots  and the thunder of death, the
thud of grenades, and heave of the Pungwe River’s songs. I read Achebe, Ngugi,
Marechera, Hamutyineyi, Neto, Senghor, Miriam Ba, Tsodzo, Chiundura Moyo, Makari,
Soyinka and more in my early teens. I became a school griot when I was seven.

JAMIE: Why is your life at risk?

MBIZO: I write the truth to any form of leadership: cultural, social and
political, My literary arts activism and my human rights and arts for
justice activities put me at risk.

I write feature articles that speak against dictatorship, injustice
and tyranny. Political leadership in Zimbabwe does not like the truth.
They want praise, which I think is a bad sign. We have violent goons
among leaders who thrive on silencing writers, artists, activists and
human rights defenders.

I am the Founder of the Zimbabwean We Want Poetry campaign, a global
literary activism campaign that exposed and is exposing political rot, poor
governance and corruption in Zimbabwe specifically and in greater Africa.

That campaign has led to the founding of the Brave Voices POETRY JOURNAL
and the Freedom Voices Poetry Writing competition. This in turn has lead to the
publication of more than 10,000 poems on various social media platforms.

My poetry in books and  journals is critical to fighting systems that oppress masses,
systems that violate human rights, systems that loot the economy and subject
masses to abject poverty .

My latest poetry collection, A Letter to the President, the title itself does not sit well with politicians, zealots, and charlatans who survive on political and economic strife, but the collection is a must  read.
It never mentions names but it speaks truth against injustice, corruption, violence and expediency and it got me in trouble: death threats, tailing, and haunting after the grand launch.

I don’t hesitate to write the truth. We have suffered under dictatorial leadership in Zimbabwe. We want the new leadership to reform and to refrain
from abductions, corruption, violence and looting. We need the purpose to live, to belong and to love our beautiful country. We want political violence
stopped. The abduction of artists and activists must stop.

JAMIE: What is the status of your situation now?

MBIZO: Exile has never been good but resilience is key. In exile you are both foreign to yourself and foreign to the land.  Accommodation, security, resources, communication, and other foundations of personal welfare and trust become first priorities and they are not easy to come by because one is not in his usual haven. The stalking is constant and exhausting. You sleep with an open eye or walk with your eyes above your shoulders.

JAMIE: You put in an application to ICORN* in 2017. What was the response?

MBIZO: I am not happy because the reply was really bad, I don’t know whether
they want you to loose a leg, a hand, or to die for them to accept your application
to be safe.

* International Cities of Refugee Network; ICORN’s mission is “protecting and promoting writers and artists at risk.”  I’ve read Mbizo’s paperwork. Responses to Mbizo’s 2017 application for assistance repeatedly indicate that his paperwork is in process but no action has been taken by ICORN on Mbizo’s behalf over the two years since he filed for safe haven.

JAMIE: What organizations have come forward to help you?

MBIZO: The main  and major organization that have stood by me since 2017
are the following
a)      PEN GERMANY 2017
b)      EU-AFRICA DEFEND DEFENDERS FUND
c)      ANDREAS WEILAND( WRITER/TRANSLATOR)
d)      ELKE LANGE- SPAIN /GERMANY
e)      INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ARTS FESTIVAL/THOMAS BLOCK
f)      FREEMAN CHARI OF DIASPORA FUNDS
g)      TRACY YVONNE BREAZILE
h)      HADAA SENDOO FROM MONGOLIA
i)      MICHALE DICKEL- WRITER IN ISRAEL

JAMIE: What is your plan now and how can we as part of the greater poetry community assist?

MBIZO: I continue with writing for justice, human rights, the truth,
and with activism and literary activism. In this moment of madness, trials
and hardships, poets must unite. Help me lobby resources, lobby
institutions that offer assistance to writers-at-risk: PEN, UN Human Rights, Writers Centres, and Artists for Justice Centres for safety retreat.

We must all keep writing for truth, justice, and  good governance.

Editor’s note:  I want to get a letter-writing campaign going for Mbizo to help him attain safe haven. More on that in Part  3 on Monday.  Tomorrow (Sunday), you’ll have the opportunity to read four of Mbizo’s poems.  Stay with us in solidarity for free-and-open civil discourse, social justice and responsible governance. May all sentient beings find peace. 

© 2019, photos and text, Mbizo Chirasha

RELATED:

MBIZO CHIRASHA is a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017), Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York. 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton