We caught up with an inspiring young and vibrant poet in Free State Hector Kunene. Seleke Botsime presents this awesome interview of the soon to be launched book called Through The Tunnel by HECTOR.S. Kunene.
SB : How do you feel about the imminent publication of your first book ?
HK: It is quite a humbling experience having to talk about my own work going to press at this stage, I have always dreamt that one day I will have my book in the shelves of libraries throughout the country and bookshops, I know it’s a big dream and to realize it is not easy but I choose to aim for the sky and if I don’t reach it then I will fall on the stars.
SB : Obviously you love poetry so much, how did it start for you, from childhood?
HK : I am not going to lie to you man, I only realized it when I was doing grade 10 at school. I just got inspired and started writing; I loved literature and was brilliant in understanding how to break down a poem into understanding and getting to picture the mind of a writer when he wrote the piece. I always had brilliant teachers in English so they made poetry interesting whenever they read it so I think that caught my attention. From there I wrote my first piece which was published on the school news letter. My parents were excited when I showed them my name on the bottom of the corner. As they say the rest is history but for me it is a present moment.
SB: What do you think the role of literature, writing should be?
HK : That is a brilliant question, we writers do not only write because we can but we are conveying a message either to warn about a danger that we foresee or we could be simply expressing our feelings, the role of writing should definitely be to tell about our histories, stories for our children, to bring comics and laughter and to convey knowledge and literature best does it.
SB : It remains a sad fact that relatively very few blacks read for leisure – poetry, drama, etc. what can be done to improve the situation?
HK : Yoh! This is a difficult one but I think we writers need to make it our role to go all out in getting people to read perhaps staring in our community where we are based and do reading campaigns and go to local radio stations and encourage the people telling them of the importance of libraries. We complain about everything whereas if we went to libraries we would find a lot of information that can help us to step out of poverty. We are not poor because we do not have money but we are poor because we think money will come to us, it actually works the other way around! e.g Money will not come to me but I need to invite money by writing a book then money will come after me. We need to provoke something in order for it to give us attention so we must provoke the people to read. Looking especially on my book Through The Tunnel, this book will provoke your thoughts about stuff, it will challenge you thinking about why you are on earth, look at the poem called the Intention of my legacy it tells you that for the fact that you are here it means there is a purpose for your life. You can see this poem on Freestatewriters.blog or you can google me. I dare you will be enlightened.
SB : Which writers or literary activists have influenced, helped or encouraged you the most?
HK : Well first that will be the love of writing and turning a complete clean A4 page into life changing cycles. You have got to love what you do or else how do you expect somebody else to? I am in love with my own writings, after writing a piece I look at it and I call it a masterpiece artwork! This is not necessarily self praise but self confidence. I must be able to sell the piece to myself so that the next person can buy it. Ha ha ha, well back to the question sir I was inspired by William Shakespeare especially when I studied Macbeth in grade 11 and 12 so even today I still even remember the first lines of the book “when shall we three meet again, in rain, thunder or storm” which was the line of the witches. Anyway from there I continued to love the sonnets of Shakespeare about love “shall I love thee” I loved the language even thou I had to have a dictionary all the time. From there on I began to write my own sonnets and I thought wallah! I attended a Wits University point system to see if I qualified to study there and I met Kafela oa Gogodi who was going to be my Bachelor of Art in Dramatic art degree lecturer and he inspired me a lot but unfortunately I could not go to Wits due to financial constrains. Locally currently I am reading books by the great O Bolaji’s Snippets, a poetry book he wrote whilst he was in Cape Town, I just finished reading the book of the ladies in Free State and I am busy with Pule Lechesa and Mr. Flaxman Qoopane... Quack of Qwaqwa, I want to know who was there before me and what they did so that we do not get to repeat history.
SB : You have a full time job, a young family yet you still read, write, produce a column regularly. How do you manage to juggle, balance all this Mr. Kunene?
HK : ( Smiling ) it is not easy baba, as a young father who recently got married, when my wife and I met she knew that I was a writer and a poet so she understands me very well although I do not take for granted that I must give her the time she needs. Being married and having a toddler in the house can be difficult for any writer so when I am at home I am the husband and when I get out I am a writer so I spend most of my time especially lunch time writing or before I go home I pass the library to do some research and write. There is a poem called In-flight joy thought, I wrote this one when I was flying from Joburg to Bloemfontein. It is also found in my book Through The Tunnel, here I was meditating about my son Ntokozo before he was born. My wife Christina also helped me in typing most of the work that I wrote when I did not have a laptop with me. She complains that I write all the time yet I never finish anything; so this is my first book going on print and I am truly humbled and blessed. I must say that at times I slip out of bed to write in the middle of the night and when I am done it feel like a massive achievement. I then sleep in peace! Thank you...