“In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, and faith.” Mbizo Chirasha
Recently, Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirasha, lost his mom. Knowing that his sense of loss and grief is compounded by the fact of his exile and an inability therefore to be with her in her last days and hours or to attend whatever funeral and memorial services are customary in his country, I invited Mbizo to write about his mom, explaining that today in the U.S. we celebrate mothers. We publish Part 1 in this post, an interview, to be followed by a hybrid poem in Part 2. / Jamie
1.) JAMIE: Mbizo, I’m sorry to learn of your loss and thank you for being willing to share some of your thoughts and poetry with us on what is Mother’s Day here in the States. When you think of your mom, what is the characteristic that stands out most?
MBIZO: I was born during the 1970s liberation struggle and my mother still even suckling a baby who was myself. She remained dedicated as the struggle collaborator. She trudged in many areas working hand in glove with combatants of the struggle, cooking for them, washing for them, and working as messengers of the war against colonialism. Nights they endure the brunt of war violence, heavy rains and ravaging wild animals, walking war bases for vigils and all night chores . Thus, she was a great example of unmatched resilience and dedication to change, to freedom for positive transformation.
My mother was gifted with the spirit of hardworking mother love. Everything we ate came from hard work, days of sweat and scramble in the fields to plant, cultivate, weed and harvest food and cash for uniforms and other necessities. She had a blessing of collectivism. She believed in collectivist approach in life. We used to have traditional beer gatherings that involved a lot of relatives, neighbors, and fellow villagers. Mother would send out a call to villagers who thrashed millet and shelled maize, from which the beer was traditionally brewed. It was shared along with goat meat and nonalcoholic traditional beverages.
We were taught to be focused, work hard, and nurture the spirit of never giving up through all those years of menacing when my mother would walk miles and miles in the scorching weather with other women. Their resolute intention was to fetch and hunt for food for our survival. We were taught to be strong, diligent, creative, hard working. We were taught to live according to our means. A great mother indeed. A dedicated soul.
2.) JAMIE: I remember that your dad was a griot, so some of his influence on you is clear in that very title. In what ways did your mom influence your love of and work on arts and literature?
MBIZO: Yes, my father was daring with words: poetry and other literature and stories. I learnt reading, spelling and writing from him from the tender age of four. My mother played a big role in everything to make me understand I must work hard in everything I do. After the death my father, she carved a creative spirit in me. She never gave up life. Her ways remained intact. She remained loyal to our clan. She never got married again but she continued to look after us throughout the conflicts. Her leadership, her energy, her resilience, her dedication to life is in my DNA, carried with me as the seed that sat in her womb.
She might not have known much of literary arts but the kind of shaping she did gave us our character, our life and everything is what you see today as I work to grow my griot career. Like my mother, I never have given up , I survive and soldier on even in traumatizing challenges. It is a gift from a mother who was a diligent formidable spirit. Thanks to her, I can be an unrelenting griot. Thanks to her I learned to think outside the box, to the rise to every occasion that warrants attention, to challenge naysayers. My mother was a tigress, unrelenting in her fight.
3.) JAMIE: How did your mom influence your activism?
MBIZO: She was part of the liberation struggle system, that were unrelenting in the struggle for the freedom of the country we have today. I believe they did their part well. However, in post-independence Zimbabwe we as people we have issues with the way the country is being governed. There is a lot corruption since 1980. Masses are suffering. Hence, I understand that freedom does not come on silver platter but its fought for with faith and resilience. Thus today I switch my roles to writing, activism, and spoken word performances. today I stand fighting to right wrong perceptions with the guiding example of our mothers and fathers who fought their own war and they won. I fight my war through literary activism . In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, faith and resilience.
© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha (Mbizo, The Black Poet)
Link to Part 2 HERE.
MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of The BeZine core team. He is the founder of Womawords Literary Press, which is dedicated to giving space to the voices of women and girls and is a partner in The BeZine International Poetry Month,a blog event. He is a multi-award winning poet from Zimbabwe who is on the run. We have been coordinating in the search for safe harbor. In part I am posting this today to remind everyone that while we’ve made progress with funding, we still need to find a host for Mbizo, preferably Germany. Open to suggestion. Connect with me if you are able to help, have leads, or have questions. You can read more about Mbizo and his story: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Poet Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview.
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