Category Archives: Blog

Harare Wind

The wind is the wind. It goes where it wants. It writes what it wants. It does not sleep. Just like Harare, the city of all power in Zimbabwe. It pulsates with vigour as it weaves its way through every corner, at times chewing into itself. Maybe it’s diseased just like the city it has enveloped.

The Harare wind briefly stops. A flickering moment to ponder on forthcoming elections. Its starting point are those mini buses garishly emblazoned with the red, gold, black and green flags. Then it gathers momentum as it has done in the past elections through the time Harare was riled by escalating prices and black marketeering.

The wind itself is timeless. It remembers when this city had escaped the noose of colonialism, having politicked on the notion of collective good. But that was just a notion. Practically this city teaches hymns that celebrate the acquisition of money by hook and crook. As the wind rocks back and forth those red flags, yellow flags and green flags, it smiles at its works. A city tremendously overburdened by a cancerous nostalgia.

No-one tells the wind where to go. It heads towards the slums of  Harare, a place called Mbare. The wind likes Mbare. It whistles better past those dust-caked walls, grime-laden windows and endless corrugated iron shacks. It gasps past a small shack accommodating a family of  ten, with parents doing their thing on a squeaky bed while children fake sleep.

Mbare is the delta that spits out malcontents into Harare. It has always been a thorn in the backside of any regime, be it Ian Smith, Muzorewa or Mugabe. The wind loves it that way. This place in the eyes of the politicians is seen to exhibit toe-curling expressions of revolt. Dissent is illegal.

Mbare houses Rufaro stadium, where Bob Marley once sang ‘Liberate Zimbabwe’. The wind smells the stadium. It now reeks in stale piss and blobs of graffiti. Red, green and yellow posters. The wind weaves and hisses its way past cockerels, clenched fists and open palms ready to dish out a sharp slap.

Like anywhere else, the wind knows. Politics is a dirty game. In this part of the world, it’s never dog eat dog, that’s fair competition. It is better depicted by Goliath slaying Lazarus, the leper.

The wind alters course, heads to the house of parliament. Has parliament been dissolved? Maybe on paper. The wind is unimpressed by never-satisfied-politicians riding on a gravy train. This is an abominable sin. There is no John The Baptist to tell these politicians to repent. In fact, the voice belongs to the politicians. It is the public who must reform and listen to the voice of reason.

Four elections ago, at this very spot, the wind remembers what happened. Unrepentant protesters never yielding. Swamped by heavily armed riot police, they hailed stones at them. The police advanced, see through shields covering their bodies. A beggar sat sprawled on a street corner, unconcerned about the goings-on. The wind knew him. He always talked to the wind. The beggar took a big sip of his kachasu, a lethal strong illegal brew. This stuff, the wind also knew, was brewed along the banks of Mukuvisi river in discarded oil drums over a wood fire.

Kachasu drinkers are distinguished by their skinny, ragged appearances and black blotches all over their faces. This kachasu drinker, scraggy and bony like an elderly cockerel, his eyes panned slowly and unconcerned around the scene. The police moved like a Roman legion. Possessed. This scrawny man and a group of street kids who had guts from sniffing glue were rounded up in the process.

The wind has a friend, the sun. On that day, the sun and the wind connived. The wind calmed. The scorching sun spread its tentacles just as the protesters mushroomed from every corner of the city. The police became thin on the ground. They badly need reinforcements to cope. The wind and the sun watched, perplexed. It was not what they thought would happen.

Politicians sent in crack troops. The creme de la creme of the army. Highly trained to kill. Crack troops diabolically blitzkrieged the city, rolling past like molten magma from a volcanic crater. They pounced on their unsuspecting victims, shooting and maiming their brothers, sisters and parents. The strikes were quelled but the protesters lived to fight another day. Spectacular madness, the wind and the sun said to each other.

Back to the present, the Harare wind is now on the move. It is turning into a whirlwind. The Harare wind has no answers yet who will stand victorious in the forthcoming July elections. Again the Harare wind has no answers as to what will deliver the knockout blow?  Will it be the fist? Or will it be the slap?

Written By Bevin Magama

Storyteller and Writer

www.bevinmagama.com

 

 

The Hare and The Baboon

I am thoroughly enjoying working on further developing this project, a one hour storytelling performance which derives from my book VICIOUS. It is always fun to work alongside the ubiquitous theatre director Dr Bambo Soyinka on this project. My special thanks to the Arts Council of Wales for making the development of this performance piece possible.

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Traveller’sTales in Butetown History and Arts Centre June 2013

When people travel from place to place, the journey itself is a rich tapestry of stories. At this storytelling event I shared stories of my encounter with Butetown. In my knowing of Butetown, I thought of the story of the hummingbird, a bird that was so overprotective of its territory. 

The event was hosted by Butetown History and Arts Centre in collaboration with the University of Cardiff.

Here are some links:

Butetown History and Arts Centre  – based in the heart of Cardiff Bay, BHAC is a unique, innovative scheme which involves local people in collaboration with professional researchers, artists and media workers.

Events and news page for the School of English, Communication & Philosophy at Cardiff University

No Thing Out of Place

Recording the radio version of No Thing out of Place by Tawfiq Al Hakim was the most exhilarating experience on 30 March 2013. This play depicted a melting pot of voices from different parts of the world; Eritrea, Wales, Serbia, Sudan, Egypt, Iran  and Zimbabwe. The richness of the voices was like the United nations.

Gratitude to National Theatre Wales for enabling John Norton to pull this feat, directing the play from start to finish.

 

South Africa, University Of Johannesburg Storytelling festival 2013

The Johannesburg storytelling festival ran from 22 February to 23 February 2013. This international event was organised by  University of Johannesburg in collaboration with Gcinamasiko Arts and Heritage Trust. The festival took place at the vibrant Soweto campus, not far from Nelson Mandela’s old home in Vilakazi street. This campus is also the hub of teacher training in South Africa.  

The theme for the festival was LOVE IN YOUR LANGUAGE. The richness of the South African languages, ranging from Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans and many others filled the campus with love. This event was attended by people from all walks of life who came in their hundreds to quench their thirst for stories.   

Then the stage came alive with stories in song and dance, singing from primary school children, storytellers articulating themselves in their preferred languages. I was felt great pride walking up that stage and doing what I do best, sharing stories. As the day progressed, the best was yet to come. Gcina Mhlophe, South Africa’s number one storyteller lit the stage in song and dance and then she immersed herself into an inspiring story of love and resilience. The crowd responded to her as if hypnotised. I stood in awe mesmerised by the highly talented Gcina.

 

Storytelling in Cardiff circles

Cardiff is a city abuzz with storytelling activities. Traditional oral storytelling has risen from the graves and stands face to face with modern multiplatform storytelling. A visit to Chapter Arts, in Canton, you find Cath Little and Richard Berry on every first Sunday of the month, like clockwork, organising performances for the Cardiff Storytelling Circle. Here, in this relaxed atmosphere, people share a plethora of stories or just sit and enjoy great performances of folktales either spoken or sung.

In Roath, just at the top of City road, is a coffee House called Milgis. Here one finds a buzzing vibrant atmosphere complimented by delicious, tasty foods and drinks from all around the world. But there is something magical about being in Milgis. It is the great yurt where people sit and relax and are entertained to wonderful storytelling performances organised by Beyond the Border Wales. Here you find the familiar happy and cheerful face of David Ambrose  and Guto Dafis always enthralling the crowds with his melodeon and in his trademark cap.  When I see him perform I always smile thinking of Andy Capp, some cartoon character I used to enjoy as a kid.

I enjoy performing at both these venues.