Freedom Nyamubaya was like a baobab that did not shake its roots or shiver its canopy when child foxes substantiate their howl.
Their trembling incessant bark would make her more strong and rooted. The Pen soldier, who once was the gun slinging guerrilla against the colonial regime was a resilient culturalist and griot . A Literary doyen of our time.
I met Freedom Nyamubaya, the literary guru and poet for the first time at the Zimbabwe Book Fair of 1998. I was introduced to Freedom by David Mungoshi another cultural and artistic doyen and literary mentor. Freedom was real freedom indeed.
She blazed the Book Fair 1998 Live literature Gazebo with her free though metaphor laced poems . It was a vibrating performance , the line up that year included Chirikure Chirikure-perfomance poetry maestro, Albert Imbongi Nyathi- the roaring spoken word lion and many other little poetry puppies who were supporting acts in Book Fair 1998 like myself.
The year 1998 and its Book Fair is spectacular to me like the year 1896 to Zimbabweans and the Year 1919 to Europeans. The Year i met a mother, a friend, a colleague in creative arts and an inspiration to both the boy child and girl child.
Freedom like her name floated freely into all creative spheres , she was an electric dancer, a talented vocalist, a cultural activist, writer , development activist and a performance poet extraordinaire.
To remind you dear reader, Freedom Nyamubaya is celebrated both as a creative /literary artist and a freedom fighter during the liberation struggle . She is one of the strong sister guerrillas who sacrificed their adolescence and schooling to water the tree of the revolution with their sweat , blood , burdens , hopes , dreams and tears. Freedom returned from the bush alongside brother guerrillas like Cde Che, holding the freedom fruit in the softness and hardness of their palms.
Freedom – the princess of Zimbabwean Protest poetry graced a number of unique cultural platforms inclusive of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair , the Book Cafe cultural Events, the Medellin Poetry Festival in Europe , diplomatic , educational and political events and exchanges.
She is widely published around the world in various journals, websites, reviews and presses. Her versatile poetry anthology ON THE ROAD AGAIN, which a metaphoric diary of the complexities and realities of the struggle for freedom and freedom itself.
In the tunnel, in the bone- a poem by Freedom once published in Belerus-Europe.
Soon time will end.
Winds are approaching the immense wall.
And there they will buckle under.
They passed quickly, and the race is over.
Finally the winds will rest.
Time cracked open. It hangs only from one stitch.
I await its decline, its resounding fall to earth.
Life begins on the last day.
Days are many, but life is meagre.
It is delayed from day to day. And when there’s only
one day left, it rushes into it with its entirety hoping
to live there . . . in this way life begins, just when it’s
ending. That’s why life will never be lived!
I’ve still one day left, what should I do?
Begin life? With what will I begin this life?
With whom? How? With what action or speech?
And if I happen to meet someone, what will I say to
him? With you, now, I will begin my life? And if I
said this, and he responded, how will I live a life I’m
saying goodbye to? How will I live the death of life?
I woke up very early. Those who will depart must
wake up very early to enhance their final days. They
must witness the dawn, at least, before they go.
In this room’s space exist the splinters of humans
who lived thousands of years ago, whom I say
goodbye to, and become splinters like them.
I say goodbye to the pulse of planets that reaches me
across the vacuum of space from distant galaxies.
The galactic swishings, the dust of stars, the air born
a million years ago crossing silently an immense
space in order to reach me.
I say farewell to gasping volcanoes, to the drizzle of
far-away swamps, to the pictures, the chairs, the
mirrors, the clocks, my children’s eyes, their shoes
scattered carelessly on the floor. I say goodbye to the
waves that penetrate my body, to the vibrations that
come from the oldest place, the big bang!
Did I have to clash with myself all this time, and
everything else with me, in order to become a silent
prey in the end? Wasn’t I able, a long time ago, to
relieve this noisy world of one voice at least?
The universe must rest. Voices must all become
Oh, for some quiet!
I can’t describe the day, I can’t describe anything.
Speaking is nothing but betrayal. They don’t speak
on the last day. They just shut up and leave.
Those hills were silent also. And we were, with the
stirring of sun and wind, the only sound.
But we, with that monotonous movement in the
stillness of death, had snared mysteries from the
How were we, simple as we are, flung between the
jaws of immensities, to invent places that would
protect us? How were we able to continue until today!
We were no mortals. But certain bones of cattle and
dry sticks saved our lives. It wasn’t life that protected
us, but death.
We mixed our births with grass. And under those thin
ears of wheat our land found a shade. We never wore
clothes, or trinkets or bracelets. But our breath was
our cloth and ornament. We were naked. We found
warmth in the firewood born of our panting,
which was dry, and so ignitable.
Under the reign of flame, we had many celebrations
for which we selected many guest seats, within our
Life was within our skin, not outside. Thus, we lived
life in its secret hideout, in dimness, in the womb,
before it was born.
Our celebrations were tended in our veins, not in
public squares. Our habitation in the imagination of
place. Our caravans in the head, not on the roads . . .
We lived the anti-birth: there was our childhood, our
youth and old age. And we met life once, before the
door of death.
During the war, my father looked for a bone in the
wilderness to crush it with a stone and satisfy his hunger.
From those crushed bones a number of
children were born, among whom I was one. I was the
son of a crushed bone.
Inside the bone a tunnel opens now, where there is a
wilderness and annals, and where my father is
Rest in Peace – princess of pen and gun!
BY Mbizo Chirasha.