Editor’s Note: Black lives matter. Creative lives matter. We’re very fortunate to see both embodied in The Fictional Café’s Residency program. In both instances, these are word-artists who had already discovered The Fictional Café and been published here.
Mbizo Chirasha was asked to become our Poet-in-Residence because of the powerful messages of freedom from oppression and tyranny in his poetry. We are saddened to learn that he remains in exile, now for four long years, in large part because of his book of poetry, A Letter to the President, which drew the ire of the dictatorship in Mbizo’s native country. Against powerfully thwarting odds, we’re trying to help.
Derrick R. Lafayette is, with pun intended, our Black Knight of fiction. His fierce, compelling stories captivated us from his first submission. His strong advocacy for our work and his ongoing imaginative output led us to create his position as Writer-in-Residence. You can find his books and podcasts on Amazon.
This is The Fictional Café’s second post for Juneteenth. You can see last year’s Juneteenth here. For this year’s, Mbizo is sharing new poetry, followed by a more complete bio. If you haven’t already done so, please read Derrick’s five short stories we’ve published.
Six Poems by Mbizo Chirasha, FC’s Poet-in-Residence
CRY MY BELOVED PEOPLE!! This country feasted on our sweat Our spirits died for this country Country carrying bad ballots and good coups reaping tears Country that died many times before death Country where bullets feed on crocodiles in rivers Gunpowder is the scent of the forests-black forests Erasing memories of love Country,whose heart heave with slogans and vendetta Country on a death bed, eating the present and pocketing the past Humming the last tune Country, where dogs bark to their shadows, mothers yell to nothing Foxes howling against the un-surrendering moon We walked along the spirit of this country, a country that feasted our blood for supper Masses breakfast religion and propaganda-riff-raff Cry my beloved people! See Fundi’s writing cultural graffiti in red ink on lampposts. Country born out of the laughter of the rifle People crying for the country sold for bread and tea ** KONGO Your past is a mint of blood and tears Daughters tearing their way to decay Sons castrated by poverty and superguns, Kongo Dream battered and bruised Your conscience polarized by oppressive -dans Highways clogged by hatred and vendetta Gutters donating stench and typhoid Kongo, Let my poetry feed your withering dreams for guns, Insulting the tired memories of voters. ** DIARY OF POVO Another whistle from election fervent fathers Another ululation from slogan drugged mothers In Chimoio we roasted bullets like mealie cobs for breakfast In Nyadzonia we boiled grenades like cassava for lunch meals In Magagao we munched parcel bombs like tropical fruit In Gorongoza, we learnt totems of war and syndromes of propaganda Today, our ears are deaf with sediments of slogans We are the Povo!! ** IDENTITY APPLES I am a fat skeleton, resurrecting from the sad memories of dada and dark mysteries of animism I am Buganda I bleed hope I drip the honey of fortune Makerere; think tank of Africa I dance with you wakimbizi dance I am Tanganyika I smell and fester with the smoke of African genesis I am the beginning Kilimanjaro; the anthill of rituals I am the smile of Africa My glee erase the deception of sadness my tooth bling freedom I am myself, I am Gambia When others sleep with bullets stuck in their stomachs I sneeze copper spoons from my mouth every dawn I am the Colombia of Africa I am the Cinderella of Africa Where mediums feast with the ghost of Kamuzu in Mulange trees Here spirits walk naked and free I am the land of sensations I am the land of reactions Coughing forex blues Squander mania I still smell the scent of Nehanda’s breath I am African renaissance blooming I stink the soot of Chimurenga I am the mute laughter of Njelele hills 50 I am Soweto Swallowed by Kwaito and gong I am a decade of wrong and gong I am the blister of freedom vomited from the belly of apartheid I see the dawn of the coming sun in Madiba’s eyebrows I am Abuja Blast furnace of corruption Nigeria, the Jerusalem of noblemen, priests, professors and prophets I am Guinea, i bling with African ;floridization’ I am blessed with many tongues My thighs washed by river Nile I am the mystery of pyramids I am the graffiti of Nefertiti I am the rich breast of Nzinga I am Switzerland of Africa The rhythm of Kalahari sunset the rhyme of Sahara, yapping, yelping I am Damara, I am Herero, I am Nama, I am lozi, and I am Vambo I am bitterness, I am sweetness I am Liberia I am king kongo Mobutu roasted my diamonds into the stink of deep brown blisters Frying daughters in corruption microwaves Souls swallowed by the beat of Ndombolo and the wind of Rhumba I am the Paris of Africa I see my wounds I am rhythm of beauty I am Congo I am Bantu I am Jola I am Mandinga 51 I sing of you I sing Thixo I sing of Ogun I sing of God I sing of Tshaka I sing of Jesus I sing of children of Garangaja and Banyamulenge whose sun is dozing in the mist of poverty I am the ghost of Mombasa I am the virginity of Nyanza I am scarlet face of Mandingo I am cherry lips of Buganda Come Sankara, come Wagadugu I am Msiri of Garangadze kingdom my heart beats under rhythm of words and dance I am the dead in the trees blowing with wind, I cannot be deleted by civilization. I am not Kaffir, I am not Khoisan I am the sun breaking from the villages of the east with great inspiration of revolutions its fingers caressing the bloom of hibiscus Liberation! ** KALINGA-LINGA A daughter of revolution fed on rich political nutrition With a smile bandaging scars of the streets and falsehood by political demons Fingers burnt in pseudo democratic pans of the West, what a political humor? I see you smelling love through the thick dew of corruption and robots True heroes and heroines swallowed up in the deep silence of chingwere and uzambwera [Cemeteries of the poor] Leopold hill shadows faking dances to the throbbing rhythms of vumbuza drums Kalinga- linga- your rising sun will soon spread the beauty of its fingers in the skies of Afrika. ** I AM A NIGHTMARE My breasts are dry of milk in the climate of this heat My earth ejaculates platinum and uranium Anus of my rock puff pure gas and crude oil The clay of my heart binds together the dust of my dreams Forests of my mind sagging with coco beans and coconuts I am tired of bullet claps and paparazzi gossip I am a country eating peanut and bananas I am the flower of want, whose bloom was pruned by madness, My holy nectar was imbibed by mad drunkards poets and prophets bring back my wildness.
MBIZO CHIRASHA is the 2020 Poet-in-Residence at The Fictional Café, 2019 Sotambe Festival Live Literature Hub and Poetry Café Curator, 2019 African Fellow for the International Human Rights Art Festival, Essays Contributor to Monk Art and Soul Magazine in United Kingdom, Arts Features Writer at the International Cultural Weekly, Featured Writer Poet Activist at The Poet A Day, Core Team Member and African Contributor to Bezine of Arts and Humanities in USA, The Originator of the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Campaign, Curator of MiomboPublishing Blog Journal, Founder and Chief Editor of WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS, Founder and Curator of the Brave Voices Poetry Journal, Co-Editor of Street Voices Poetry trilingual collection (English, African Languages and Germany) initiated by Andreas Weiland in Germany, Poetry Contributor to AtunisPoetry.com in Belgium, African Contributor to DemerPress International Poetry Book Series in the Netherlands, African Contributor to the World Poetry Almanac Poetry Series in Mongolia, 2003 Young Literary Arts Delegate to the Goteborg International Book Fair Sweden (SIDA AFRICAN PAVILION), 2009 Poet in Residence of the International Conference of African Culture and Development (ICACD) in Ghana, 2009 Fellow to the inaugural UNESCO- Africa Photo- Novel Publishers and Writers Training in Tanzania, 2015 Artist in Residence of the Shungua Mutitima International Film and Arts Festival in Livingstone, Zambia, a globally certified literary arts influencer, Writer in Residence and Recipient of the EU-Horn of Africa Defend Defenders Protection Fund Grant as well as Recipient of the Pen Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant. He is an Arts for Peace and Human Rights Catalyst, the Literary Arts Projects Curator, Poet, Writer, publicist and is published in more than 200 places in print and online. His latest 2019 collection of experimental poetry A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT was released by Mwanaka Media and Publishing and is both in print, on Amazon. and at is featured at African Books Collective.