October 28, 2021

The Dilemma of The Zimbabwean Writer: The David Murambwi Story

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ZTN Correspondent

David Murambwi is an unassuming man. In fact one is tempted to overlook or dismiss him when one first meets and talks to him. For one, he is down to earth and humble, but his humility masks an intelligent and inquisitive mind as well as the wordsmith and passion for writing in him.

Born 54 years ago in Chirumhanzu, Midlands province, the writer of children’s books and father of six, started writing poems at Mhende Primary School. His first poem, “A Good Child”, which he wrote while in Grade 4, won a lot of prizes. It was this success that encouraged him to keep writing and since then, he has not looked back.

Murambwi’s writing skills were further sharpened at Chiona Secondary School in Mvuma where he joined the writing club and became the editor of the school magazine, Chiona News. After Ordinary Level he remained the editor for another year while studying journalism through correspondence.

However, he did not complete his journalism studies due to poor health. He has cerebral palsy, which makes his speech somewhat slurred. Sometimes one has to listen very carefully or ask him to repeat himself to get what he will be saying.

The writer, who now lives in Karoi, Mashonaland West province, now pens children’s booklets which he self-publishes. He is the founder of Basic Library Publishers based in Karoi. But why self-publish?

One reason is lack of funds. But there is also another reason:

“There is no publishing house I have not approached, Mambo Press, College Press, Longman and others.

“They say they are no longer publishing general stories but are now focusing on textbooks. That’s why I have turned to self-publishing,“ he says.

He says self-publishing has lots of challenges.

“You need a lot of capital, Murambwi says almost dejectedly.

What pushed him to start writing children’s books was the realisation that in Zimbabwe there are not many books for minors. The writer says the only children’s books available are “foreign” and contain colonial ideas and themes.

“These books don’t tell the Zimbabwean story. Our children do not know who they are. We should start at grassroots level to teach our children who we are so that our future can be assured.

“We have our national heritage – the parliament of Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park, Kariba Dam, Heroes Acre and so on. We should teach the children about these places and explain to them what parliament is. No one is writing about these things.”

He says his books are aimed at educating children about their history.

Mr Murambwi laments the dearth of writing in Zimbabwe and blames technology and social media for the decline.

“The art of writing in Zimbabwe has deteriorated compared to the time we started writing in the 1980s.

“This is due to the fact that most people now spend time on their phones and other electronic
gadgets and are no longer interested in writing.”

“Also people of today (sic) fear putting their words on paper. There is a general lack of creativity,” he says.

Murambwi says the problem can be resolved through the promotion of reading hard copies.

Like any good writer Murambwi reads a lot.

“I don’t have specific books but I read any printed material. Locally I like Charles Mungoshi. He is a simple writer.”

Pressed further he says he also likes Shimmer Chinodya, especially his book “Child of War, ”which he wrote using the moniker Ben Chirasha. Internationally he likes William Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy.

His book catalogue includes such titles as “Stung by Wasps! “Zimbabwe Heroes Acre”, and “Reminded”, which discusses the land reform programme. These booklets have been distributed to different schools in the country.

Murambwi is calling for partners to help in publishing his books and has appealed to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s Curriculum Development Unit to publish his works.

He says his books are in demand but he cannot publish enough for the market because of lack of funds.

“I need transport to ferry my books from one school to another. Local transporters normally help but they are very expensive.”

“I also need a laptop, printer and desktop to empower myself.”

For now he says he writes his manuscripts on paper. What can he do when he does not have the basic electronic equipment? But he is not discouraged, judging by the amount of manuscripts he is working on albeit without the necessary tools.

He says he lives on writing and a bit of farming and has approached a number of content producers to try and convert his works into short films. So far his efforts have not yielded any positive results.

However he is not giving up yet and hopes one day he will find a publisher who will make his dream of becoming a respected writer, whose works are widely published, a reality.

David Murambwi can be contacted on 0776751244.

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