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MAMA, Goddess of All Times, An Eulogy to Mother (Part 1) by Zimbabwean Poet in Exile, Mbizo Chirasha

Mbizo’s Mom

“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.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Sustain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



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

 

The World Mourns the Passing of Turkish singer Helin Bölek after 300-day hunger strike

Helin Bölek courtesy of Twitter for Android

“We are immensely saddened to learn of Helin Bölek’s passing. We strongly condemn the actions of the Turkish government that led to her death. Bölek was on a death fast because the Turkish authorities refused to guarantee this artistic group several of the most basic liberties necessary to a free and democratic society . . . ” Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) of PEN America



The world mourns the death of Turkish singer Helin Bölek. Ms. Bölek died Friday after a nearly 300-day hunger strike. She was a member of the music collective Grup Yorum, which has faced ongoing persecution by the Turkish government for years. Bölek had been on a hunger strike to protest her imprisonment and that of eight other band members during 2019.


Ms. Bölek, originally the daughter of a family from Diyarbakır, worked in art during her youth. She took part in the group as a soloist. During a police operation in İdil Culture Center in Istanbul in November 2016, she was first detained with the seven members of the group on charges of “resisting the police, insulting and being a member of a terrorist organization” and then arrested. In addition to Ms. Bölek, Bahar Kurt, Barış Yüksel, İbrahim Gökçek (who is currently in day 291 of his hunger strike), and Ali Aracı announced that they started an “indefinite and irreversible” hunger strike on May 17, 2019, to end their pressures, concert bans, raids on cultural centers. On March 11, 2020, on the day of the conflict, İbrahim Gökçek on the 268th day of the death fast and Helin Bölek on the 265th day were taken out to the Umraniye Training and Research Hospital after the police raid that morning in their home in Küçük Armutlu, Istanbul. In a statement made by their lawyer Didem Ünsal, the two Grup Yorum members stated that they were taken to the hospital by ambulance and that they were admitted to the emergency room, where they declared that they did not accept the intervention and treatment.

Grup Yorum is a band from Turkey known for their political songwriting. Grup Yorum (Yorum means interpretation or comment in Turkish) has released twenty-three albums and one film since 1985. Some of the group’s concerts and albumswere banned over the years, and some of the group members were allegedly arrested or tortured.Yorum remains popular and their albums continue to sell well in Turkey and internationally. Yorum has also given concerts in Germany, Austria, Australia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, United Kingdom, Greece and Syria. The group publishes an art, culture, literature, and music magazine entitled Tavir, and several group members manage a cultural center in the Okmeydanı neighborhood of Istanbul called İdil Kültür Merkezi.

 


Although Ms. Bölek was released on November 20, she continued her hunger strike with the intent to pursue it until her own death, alongside Grup Yorum member İbrahim Gökçek. Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) of PEN America, said the following:

“We are immensely saddened to learn of Helin Bölek’s passing. We strongly condemn the actions of the Turkish government that led to her death. Bölek was on a death fast because the Turkish authorities refused to guarantee this artistic group several of the most basic liberties necessary to a free and democratic society: that Grup Yorum be allowed to make music in peace, that their cultural center not be raided again and again, that their concerts not be banned, and that their members not be imprisoned for merely making music. Artists take risks, but they should not have to risk their lives. Turkish authorities’ hostile attitude toward freedom of expression and their continued crackdown on artists, writers, thinkers, and activists, especially those working on Kurdish issues, must cease immediately, and Grup Yorum members still in prison must be unconditionally released. Bölek’s death makes the truth painfully clear: The very lives of artists are on the line.”

This post is complied courtesy of Wikipedia, PEN America, YouTube, and various news reports.

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you would like to learn more about Grup Yorum, please read ARC’s profile of the band. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



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

Beyond Yearning to Hope, a poem. . . and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

Courtesy of Nick Fewings, Unsplash

“This virus is teaching us that from now on living wages, guaranteed health-care for all, unemployment and labor rights are not far left issues, but issues of right versus wrong, life versus death.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, American Protestant minister and political activist. Rev. Barber is the author of several recommended books. His Amazon page is HERE.



The dreams can drive you crazy sometimes
The ones that envision a just world, one
Where equity is the backbone of endurance
A vineyard of bliss, so to speak, a garden of joy
Relative to the greed times of unworthy living
In a penthouse with a golden toilet, while
Others sleep on cardboard outside, urinating
In the streets, begging for lunch and walking
Barefoot in the snow, betrayed from day one
By the false ideal of rugged independence,
Of monied might is alright, of resource hording
By the richest and unconscionable trafficking of
Children for the unhinged pleasures of the elite
Oh my God, how did this happen? and who
Might have thought that the munitions factory
Of a deadly virus would bring us nose to nose?
How COVID-19 recognizes no bank account or
Prestigious position, just drops its noxious tidbits
Indiscrimanently, into lungs of princes, prime ministers
Those sleeping rough on city streets, its travels
Enhanced by an uneven distribution of access
To water, healthcare, space, living wages,
Paid time off, the rudiments of a civilized life
Girded by compassionate societies, lessons
Learned, we await implementation, and
Dare we move beyond yearning to hope

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

This poem and post are dedicated to the much admired Rev. William Barber and to Bernie Sanders. 

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

This week we focus on right versus wrong, life versus death, on living wages, guaranteed health-care for all, unemployment and labor rights. Dare we move beyond yearning to hope.  Tell us you thoughts in your poem/s and

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose

PLEASE NOTE:

Poems submitted on theme in the comments section here will be published in next Tuesday’s collection. Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published. If you are new to The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, be sure to include a link to your website, blog, and/or Amazon page to be published along with your poem. Thank you!

Deadline:  Monday, April 6 by 8 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



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

“The BeZine” Call for Submissions, International Poetry Month

To mark International Poetry Month April 2020, we at The BeZine blog invite submissions of poems on the current pandemic. To paraphrase R. Buckminster, think globally but write locally. Write from your context about your experience during this Time of Coronavirus, but at the same time, reflecting to larger global contexts. Write about glimmers from within the crisis that illuminate ourselves, our world, and the world(s) possibly coming to us afterwards.

This event is co-hosted by Womawords Literary Press.

We especially look for poetry that projects changes (positive or negative) that may evolve from this crisis:

• worldwide coordination/collaboration
• resources of one sort or another—old, new, emerging; shared or fought-over
• the impact the pandemic might have on:
° women and the role they play in assuring good health and hygiene
° the poor and low-wage or middle class workers
° water and the environment
° war and conflict, and
° addressing the climate issues that contribute significantly to this and looming pandemics.

What about the communities—perhaps yours—that have no running water and are also therefor ravaged by typhoid, cholera, and dysentry?

Guidelines HERE.

Email Word files to  thezinesubmissions@gmail.com (Please not this is our new email address)

Womawords Literary Press HERE.

In the spirit of love (respect) and community,
Michael Dickel, Co-Manging Editor, The BeZine
Mbizo Chirasha, Curator of Womawords Literary Press, Co-Host of The BeZine International Poetry Month
Jamie Dedes, Founding Editor and Co-Mnaging Editor, The BeZine