In Support of Dissident Poets and Poetry, Responses to last Wednesday’s Prompt sponsored by Poet-in-Exhile, Mbizo Chirasha

 

Mbizo Chirasha

“In my works on African culture, I am not against races or tribes, but systems that betray Africa. People must stop being stooges and writers must write against second and third colonialistic winds.” Mbizo Chirasha in an interview with The Herald HERE.



Mbizo Chirasha

We did something unusual with the last Wednesday Writing Prompt.  We asked poets to respond specifically to the situation of Zimbabwean Poet-in-Exile, Mbizo Chirasha. (Not all the poets actually responded on theme, but they did respond on related issues that concern them and so we included their poems in this collection.) The purpose of the theme is to help us create awareness of the plight of our fellow poets like Mbizo and other writers, artists and activists who are directly fighting authoritarianism, despotism and kleptocracy on the front lines and putting their general welfare and even their lives at risk in doing so. These are socially-engaged creatives who are in danger from amoral govenments in their own beloved countries. We appreciate your participation as writers, readers and humanitarians in this week’s unusual and important prompt.

Mbizo writes in response to the submissions:

Great poets around the world, readers of poetry, esteemed audience of  The Poet by Day: I salute you with my sincere gratitude for timeous creative support. You are word revolutionaries fighting with me in trenches for the attainment of social justice, human rights, and  freedom of expression.  This is as it should be. Writers should be first to shoot words, sling metaphors, and pose readily in the artistic armour to wage a resilient, creative and nonviolent war.

I am heartily touched by the amount of  commitment, depth and detail in these submissions. We should remain resilient, focused strong and creative in the quest for national harmony, regional peace, and global sanity. Writers must write and continue to write to mitigate bad governance, corruption, injustice, hegemony, dictatorship, political violence, and social malaise.

Aluta continua!
Mbizo Chirasha

Our thanks to Gary W. Bowers, Paul Brookes, Anjum Wasim Dar, Mike Stone, Pali Raj, and Sonja Benskin Mesher for the richness of this collection. Countries represented in the post are: England, Kashmir, India, Israel, Pakistan, United States, and Zimbabwe.

We’ll return to the traditionally prompt response layout and inclusions next week. We’ve modified it this week out of respect for the occasion. Thank you for understanding. A brief update on Mbizo’s status (not good) closes this post.



artivist artifice artemis bolt

artivist artifice artemis bolt
wring out a dream and give despots a jolt.
artemis arm&fist activist strike
shake out a mindset and shore up a dyke.
artifice artdoesthis anarchist grow
muralize justice for over and throw.
antidote anecdote anthemnote strive
make visitations of souls kept alive.

© 2019, Gary W. Bowers

How To Be Corrupt And Be Seen As Honest.

Here is the syllabus. This will be a tough course.

Introduction will focus on the psychopathology of hard business and unwavering pursuit of profit.
We will teach you how to see people as things. Your mother and father will be unrecognisable to you, as will your kids and spouse. They are merely objects to be maneouvred.

Main course content.

1. How to steal money from public coffers, whilst supporting charitable causes. How to steal food from babies mouths, how to watch the poorer become poorer.
2. How to store stolen money in off shore accounts, defended by laws not available in your home country.
3. How to employ PR to defend your reputation, white wash your actions.

Good luck on the course.

© 2019, Paul Brookes

In Response to Mbizo Chirasha Freedom Poetry

For I sang the freedom song for years
in vain, in pain,
One day I will return
O my homeland ,my heaven, land of
pure peace,

I am the native child, born in captivity
my feet never touched my beloved soil
I breathed but for a while in mother’s
lap,
In sleep, led away, far away, to refuge
One day I will return, I sang my song-

It is a nightmare
futile dream of the happy return
my earth oozes martyrs’ blood spills
resounds with raped women’s screams
burns with saffron spreads in wide fields
weeps with weeping willows in the streams
One day I will return, and I sang my song,
in vain, in pain

I am the houseboat abandoned
I am the ‘shikara’ floating,empty
I am the moaning water of Dal
I am the aroma of sweet apples
I am the snow of mountain tops
I am the color of pansies and lotus
I am the music of the ‘rubaab’
I am the child of a captive state

One day I will return I sang my song
in vain, in pain

But now my heart is silent,my voice
stilled, my feet in fetters, my home
locked, my road blocked, guarded
I am tired of pellets bullets and gas,

I am cold like a stone, no ‘Kangarri’
I carry , no greens or beans I cook
I am but a listed item, a numberless
number, a lost identity, snatched
wrenched annexed conquered

My song of freedom rings aloud
but can anyone hear? Will anyone
come? Will anyone cry for me? Or
my land, to set free? Perhaps one day,

if the music sails on, reaches the stars
Showers the rain which pours free
and washes away the mud of captivity
breaks the chains lifts the barriers and
calls-
Come Your land is yours, gone is the
enemy- but I woke up again, in pain
in vain,
I hear the fearful scream-heavy boots
shaking the soil, tearing up roots
I do not wish to sing, but pray, hope
It is all a dream-
In vain I sing, in pain I try to-sleep

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

To The Defenders of Freedom

When peaceful protest fails
and protesters are put in jails
then forces must stand
bravely to defend the land-

In attack
outnumbered ten to one
crawled under enemy tank
martyred to glory, sank in
body, blood in native sand

In loyalty
you saved the land
blasting enemy tanks
with bravery supreme
grenades in hands

In honor
you remain for ever you live
those who die a life they give
and repel the enemy aggressive.

And now I say and know
battles have been fought
public protests prevail
as Freedom must be saved
at all cost-

or else, all is forever lost

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

In Freedom

In Freedom There is Fear
When a close and dear
one, is no more,

In Freedom there is blood
When all you made in life
Is washed away in flood;

In freedom there is sacrifice
When all you claim and own
Is taken away without a price;

In freedom there is liberty
For many just a statue
fights, no rights, nor equality;

In Freedom there are letters
promises and false hopes
soon you are in iron fetters;

In Freedom I was born
I never saw my land
I long for its beauty
In dewdrops shining
In the morn;

In Freedom there is a gift
treasure not and you find
it floating by and adrift;

In Freedom there is ease
calm and harmony, hold
it strong for eternal peace

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

Do Not Make War

1.

it must be painful for them to write, those poets in tough-times and hard places
where blood and tears and poverty contaminate the air, stain the sidewalks, and consume the people

the blood must be soul-sick and rusted and tasting of acid, not salt,
and the poems meant to heal the writer and stroke the cheeks of the wounded,
to dry their eyes and gently kiss their gray heads

to poem in such places must be like walking shoeless on glass shards

perhaps the most sacred thing in the dream-time meadow of poets’ desire is Light ~

can you awaken to meet the Divine when you are on the run, in hiding, on the battlefield, in the camps, in government housing or in the ghettos?

if so, you are a saint, not simply an artist

2.

in my small world, my civilized world, people fall asleep reading or after making love or playing in the yard with their children

if they wander, it is through books or planned travel

there are luxuries
there is food
there is cleanliness and paper on which to write
no bombs are dropping to scorch and scar the Earth
no government thugs stalk us with ill intent
there is a certain dignity

3.

in San Francisco we walk along the beach at night, near the Cliff House
we walk to the sound of the waves, the song of the Earth chanting its joys
our feet are bare and relish the comfort of cool sand

the air is clear and cold and easy to breathe, tasting of salt and smelling of sea life ~
here is a pristine moment of peace

i want to bequeath this peace to you, to everyone,
as though it were a cherished heirloom
it is really a birthright

i want to plunge into the waters and gather the ocean in my cupped hands, to offer it to you as sacramental wine

i want to form seaweed into garlands for all of us to wear, to hang over our hearts, a symbol of affection

i want to collect pine cones from the trees that congregate along the coast and feed them to the children to remind them to cherish this Earth and all its creatures, themselves included, and to say …

do not make war in your heart or upon your mother’s body

© 2016, Jamie Dedes

Silent, poor, innocent, youth
They witness democratic loot
Corruption rise,
And businessmen fight when
Economic slowdown
They are blown into religious fight
They seek a person with opposite ions
When their grief rise
You call me activist, but
I must also sleep the long night
Well, activism
I haven’t wished for it, nor consented to it
I only love my nation.

© 2019, Pali Raj

Then as Now

The sweet pungency of rose and violets
Floats on the gentle breezes
And down the road a ways the church bells toll
As they did then.

At the shooting range, you still see bullet holes
But they buried all the targets in mass graves,
Not helter-skelter like some graveyards,
But very orderly as they were then.

The tall poplar trees surround electric fences,
They seem inviting, leaves rustling in the breeze,
A nightmare inside a blonde and blue-eyed dream,
As it was then.

They scrub the showers, ovens, and the smokestacks,
The red brick raw and spotless.
A pile of shoes stands in silent accusation
But no one hears, then as now.

© 2019, Mike Stone

Hatred

And the prophet stood among a few people.
In the marketplace of ideas, there were many prophets
But this prophet spoke quietly. He said
Hatred is not a state of mind
That one can enter and leave at will;
It is a road that starts in innocence
Leading ever downhill
And ends in unplumbed evil.
I don’t tell you turn the other cheek
When struck, as another prophet said,
But I say don’t answer hatred with hatred.
Hatred comes from ignorance of others,
Thinking they are not like us,
That they don’t love their children
Or honor their parents
Or fear for their future as we do.
Why not answer hatred with hatred?
Because it creates a circle without exit or break
And perhaps their hatred comes from
Honoring their past or fearing their future.
What should you do?
When you understand those whom you call “other”
You will know what to do, and hate
Will wither like dry tumbleweed in the desert
Because there is no other,
There is only us.

© 2019, Mike Stone

Blessed Are the Rich

Blessed are the rich
For they shall inherit the meek
And enslave them.
Blessed are the rich
Who will inherit new worlds to suck dry
After they have sucked dry our only world.
Blessed are the rich
Who make their own blessings
And the gods to bless them.
Cursed are the poor
Who bow down to worship
The gods of the rich,
Who count the blessings of the rich
Who are sucked dry by the rich
Who are enslaved by the rich.
Cursed are the poor
Who bless the curse of meekness
For their children to inherit.

® 2019, Mike Stone

Birdsong

A small bird landed on the branch of an old tree
Where other loudly chirping birds were perched.
The other birds on this branch twittered critically
And decided she was not one of them.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off your right wing like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had only their left wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
Flapping his left wing and spiraling downward
Until he crashed beak first into a rock.
To each bird, according to its needs, the other birds tweeted.

The little bird flew to another branch on the old tree.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off your left wing like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had only their right wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
Flapping his right wing and spiraling downward
Until he crashed beak first into the hard tree root.
To each bird, according to its capabilities, the other birds chirped.

The little bird flew to another branch on the old tree.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off both your wings like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had no wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
But having nothing to flap, plummeted down
Until he crashed beak first into the hard ground.
We are neither left nor right, the other birds sang.

The little bird flew to another tree
And sang a two-wing song for you and me.

© 2019, Mike Stone  

What Use Is Beauty?

What use is beauty
If it merely masks an inner ugliness,
If it just confuses us
Like too much wine
Making us think we’re gods?
What good is truth
If falsehood is far more useful
For getting what you need or want
And easier to believe by far
Besides, who has time for truth?
What purpose does freedom serve
If it only starves us
or makes us lonely?
Most prefer a bond or two
To a mindless multitude.
What’s the point of words
If they are not the right words,
The precise ones that we think
Or those that others want to hear?

© 2019, Mike Stone

The Emperor’s New Changes

Raanana, September 11, 2016

A hundred thousand poets for change
That’s us.
That’s what we called ourselves last year
And the year before.
So they’ve stopped lynching the poets in Arabia?
They’ve stopped stoning the raped women in Kabul?
What about the mutilation of genitals of young girls?
So they’ve stopped burning down Black churches in Bama?
Stopped desecrating the lands of our Sioux brothers?
How about the carbon they’ve dumped in the atmosphere?
Did they stop that?
Do they believe now the earth is too warm to live on?
Are philosophers kings yet?
Are kings philosophers?
I don’t mean to be cynical
But it doesn’t seem like much has changed since last year.
We’ve read a few poems,
That’s all.
Come to think of it,
Have we really changed,
Except for getting a year older?
If that’s change
Then we better change change
So that it’s palpable
So that we can feed people with it
So that people can walk tall from it
So that people can protect themselves with it
So that people can make love to it
Until change is done changing
And the world is all the Republic we need.

© 2019, Mike Stone

:: exiles ::

i heard on the radio.

they decided to walk.

he asked her what she had..

nothing she said, nothing.

money? nothing, nothing,
nothing. nothing.nothing.

nothing left except my girls.

i have not lost them, we hold hands,
hold hands, hold hands.

we have nothing.nothing. nothing left.

they decided to walk.holding hands

© 2019, Sonja Benskin Mesher



A Brief Status Update on Mbizo*

Mbizo Chirasha

We’re still $295 short of the Go-Fund-Me goal. Mbizo is in hiding, without any regular source of food or access to a computer, which would facilitate his radio interview and preparing his applications for asylum and other assistance. You are able to donate anonymously through go-fund-me. Even a few dollars will help us reach goal. This effort is hosted by an organizer from International Human Rights Art Festival.  If you can help in some other way, please connect with Mbizo at girlchildcreativity@gmail.com.Thank you!

*
RELATED

“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



 

Part 2 of 3: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Mbizo Chirasha, Four Poems

“His eagle eyes scan beyond the boundaries of his native Zimbabwe to right the crookedness of men with dubious ideals and reckless twists in lands abroad. Caressing his Lenovo mistress upon a night, he relives in recorded poesy, memories of victims of corruption and the false memoirs of looters of the land.  A Letter to the President, is a collection of his experimental poetry. Here is the man on a mission and with a mission. Words are slings and rocks on his quiver. Tireless and resilient; no ugliness is too ugly to stay below his radar. His weapon of choice is his pen. Dipped in acid, as he says, no thug escapes the roast of his laser beam that put them on the spot light.” Available from African Books Collective HERE and through Amazon U.S. HERE and Amazon U.K. HERE.



Theodore Roosevelt

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”  Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919), an American statesman, politician, conservationist, naturalist, writer, and the 26th president of the United States (1901 to 1909) [Note: There is wisdom in this quotation. It’s unfortunate though that Roosevelt was an ardent imperialist. / J.D.]



Mbizo Chirasha

CASAVA REPUBLICS*

Juba
Child of lost sperm in sunsets of political masturbation
Wagadugu
Deadline of our revolutions
Darfur
Constipated stomach, disease ravaged, bloodless dozing monk.
Nairobi
Culture lost in the dust of Saxon lexicon and gutter slang
Soweto
Xenophobia Drunk and Afro-phobia sloshed.
Marikana
Cervical blister of the unfinished revolution fungi.
Harare
Corruption polonium deforming elders into political hoodlums
Congo
Lodge of secessionists and human guillotines

DAWN OF SUNSET

Islamophobia and Christianophobia drank the york of our time
Socialism, liberalism and regionalism many other isms made rags
of us. Slaves to bitterness from imported political and religion attitudes.
The sleep laden minds of Zambezi lost in the in the thicket of ballot
arithmetic.
Minds swollen by songs whose tunes crevice granite boulders of unending
chumurenga.
RHETORICS
Mandela,the summer sun that rose through rubbles of our winter
Gadafi and Sadamu making shadufs and pyramids
…….another spring
Obama and Osama pulling rich political carrot in Segorong
Robin Island slept golden nightmares and charcoal dreams,
Soweto virgins cracking their under feet in the long walk to freedom
Faces carrying the burden of freedom and anthems.
SANKARA
………………dream of our freedom
See Africa bleeding, burning, ———-
Freedom of states heaving under the rhythm of rubbles, slander and blunder
Revolutions dripping poetry and pop of poor masses,
Lunatics trading the countries with bread
Boozing the dew of freedom and the golden blood of mothers

SANKARA
………………dream of our freedom
See Africa bleeding, burning, ———-
Freedom of states heaving under the rhythm of rubbles, slander and blunder
Revolutions dripping poetry and pop of poor masses,
Lunatics trading the countries with bread
Boozing the dew of freedom and the golden blood of mothers
Sankara cocks crowing the dawns choked with evil generations, picking
corroded histories
Peasants planting burden, others strapping deformed dreams in theirs backs
Sankara!
*
KISINGANI AND OTHER VIRGINS
.
Azania, you sing silent mbaqanga in your sleep
….Xenophobia
Your children eating apartheid tripe and samp
I see the wild fire of Somaliland that everyone sees and
pretend to be blind. Let Samora’s spoken word caress
wounded palms of Mozambique.
I hear drumbeats of hope coming from Tumbuktu.
Kisingani your wearing silence reaches the throne of God.
Nyangani you cry silent dreams in your sleep, of children
harvesting paradoxes of history and metaphors of identity.

“In my works on African culture, I am not against races or tribes, but systems that betray Africa. People must stop being stooges and writers must write against second and third colonialistic winds.” Mbizo Chirasha in an interview with The Herald HERE.


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 tomorrow, Monday. Yesterday (Saturday), we posted an interview HERE with Mbizo to give you a better idea of his background, philosophy and  plight.  Stay with us in solidarity for free-and-open civil discourse, social justice and responsible governance. May all sentient beings find peace. 
*
© 2019, poems and photos, Mbizo Chirasha
*
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 / FacebookMedium

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

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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.

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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