Thursday, January 26, 2012
By Nthabiseng Lisele
PULE LECHESA, hailed by many literary pundits as a literary giant of note in the Free State and abroad has succeeded against all odds to carve a niche for himself as a fecund writer of substance. He has done so by churning out impressive literary essays, a book of poetry, short stories and so forth. In this latest remarkable book, Essays on Free State Black literature, Lechesa outlines the breath-taking literary revolution that has taken place in the Free State province – which has happened on a rare scale unlike any other community in Black Africa. He also focuses on the contribution of the Free State writers at the grassroots level to mainstream poetry.
Here Nthabiseng Lisele fired a few questions at the excited author….
This is your fifth book, how do you feel about your latest release?
I’m very excited because it’s been long working on this book and finally it’s out! I’m more relieved that it’s been released and focuses on quintessential literature.
What is special about this book as distinct from other books you’ve written before?
This book celebrates the good work of the previous writers so you can say inter alia I’m honouring many of them on my book – and adding to the corpus of literature in Africa.
How long did it take you to write and complete this book?
It took me 5 years to complete it. For the past 5 years I’ve been compiling essays and reviewing other authors which brought the completion of this book.
What do you think is the importance of Literature in the society?
There is an odious saying that: “if you want to hide important news from a Black man, hide it in the book!”. So I believe that if our society can indulge more into reading, and it can be any book, they can get knowledge. And Literature is playing that role of informing, educating, feeding the mind of the society with brilliant ideas and broad knowledge.
You are known worldwide as a tough, ruthless, literary critic. Are you not afraid of writers hating you?
No, ma’am (laughing)… Their hatred won’t stop me from writing but instead will help me correct errors I might have committed obliviously. Writers love to massage their egos and in civilized societies it is the norm that if writers are wrong they should be corrected. For an example, if there’s a certain chapter I stated that it is winter season but only to find out that I said one of the story’s characters was wearing a sleeveless shirt, I’m confusing my readers and I deserve to be corrected.
Do you think you are playing an important role in the advancement of Literature?
Yes, I know so; because knowledge is power and people need to be empowered. And history of Literature should be run throughout this present generation until another generation takes over.
Briefly, who are the major writers that you have featured in your latest book?
Hector Kunene, Jafta JahRose, NMM Duman, Sipho Mnyakeni, Omoseye Bolaji – I have many essays and interviews with him in the book; Deon-Simphiwe Skade, Flaxman Qoopane, Ntate Kgang Motheane. Most writers are at least mentioned; including young Teboho Masakala...there are many literary allusions worldwide in the book.
How will you describe the current state of writing in the Free State?
I think we are on the right track. For example, recently, celebrated international critics like Achal Prabhala have noted the impressive literary trends here and continue to put us on the map. The world, Universities, internet etc continue to highlight the great things happening here in the Free State.
* Published in Free State News
Sunday, January 15, 2012
He has apparently just burst onto the literary scene with a string of profound short stories. But Charles Matorera, a Free State based Zimbabwean has always relished the world of reading and writing, as he explains briefly here...
JERRY: You are making your mark as a writer. Going down memory lane how did it start; from your youth perhaps?
CHARLES MATORERA: I think I inherited the story telling talents of my grandpa who was a WW2 hero; he could tell you a story a dozen times and you could still be interested to hear it again. Most of my stories I could tell people and they would ask "why can't you write a book?"
Also at school they encouraged us to read anything, even lost newspapers. At home it wasn't easy as they were subsistence farmers... they always had a job for you, so any reading would have to be only at night.
Who are your favourite writers?
Charles Mungoshi, Chenjerai Hove, Shima Chinodya, Ngugi wa Thiong, Chinue Achebe, Mahommed Takur Gabar, Mtutuzeli Matshoba, Wilbur Smith, Robert Ludlum hey the list is endless...
Zimbabwe has a strong vibrant literary tradition. You must be proud of this as a Zimbabwean?
Zimbabwe is literarily rich; the British Council, Zimbabwe Publishing House helped a lot - but nowadays politics has intervened into literature and things have largely fallen apart. Yes we have got great talents like Marechera and Dangarembga and a lot in local languages but the economy essentially killed the market.
We hear everytime about daunting challenges facing African writing. What is your take on this?
African writing needs a face lift, there are no publishing houses who go deep in talent search and try to develop new writers. The governments are also not helping, so we do people who take writing as a career. But surely, we do have talent; so much so in the Free State here!
Some give in to despair and cynicism over this. What will you say is the importance of literature anyway?
The importance of literature to me is:
a)the footprints of our lives to the future generations like the bible, rock paintings and hieroglyphics tells us about the past.
b) entertainment - we mostly read to enjoy
c)education, it's hard to con a literate person
What are your next literary plans, dreams?
I would like to go into novels when in the future. I would like to promote literature in Africa, helping the hidden talents to get exposure. The final dream is to one day help convert the great African stories into motion pictures. Thank You