Thanks to everyone who turned out last night, for a very insightful session with the charming Tawona Sithole (followed by lively discussion in the bar afterward!).
Tawona brought with him a range of traditional Zimbabwean objects, ranging from bow-and-arrows to dried Baobab fruits and alien-looking squash plants (adapted into shakers). These are critical to the nocturnal ceremonies of Tawona’s Shona culture, which find families gathering around firesides.
Tawona’s memorable quotes and ideas were manifold – nothing in nature is supernatural; spirituality means nature; we are all the echoes of our parents; if you can move you can dance; if you can talk you can sing; you are the first audience of your work; some people are like blisters – they only turn up when the hard work is done; learning never ends; the wise man never gets lost because he asks directions along the way; you must celebrate both your good and bad experiences; to be a writer you have to play outside society’s norms; a writer is like a farmer – no seeds, no growth; everyone needs a creative punch-bag who will give you honest feedback; if a rock speaks, who am I to argue with it?
When Tawona finally gave in to requests for his poetry, he gifted us a wonderful four-poem encore. Considering English is his third language, these involved astonishingly sophisticated word play and nuance – laced with his dry, humorous take on the world.
Let’s end on my favourite line: wash your words very carefully, because you may have to eat them soon!