Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Correspondent
A short stories competition targeted at promoting ChiTonga young writers has been launched at secondary schools in Binga district, Matabeleland North province.
The competition dubbed ChiTonga Short Stories Writing Competition will run every term. Its maiden theme is centred around Covid-19.
Sixty-four pupils from secondary schools in Binga are taking part in the competition.
Founder of the competition, published ChiTonga writer Onesmas Mudenda who is a ChiTonga and Linguistics student at the University of Zimbabwe said the competition is set to be a breakthrough for ChiTonga writers
“The competition was officially launched on the International Mother Language Day on 21 February this year and it will be running every school term. A total of 64 pupils took part and a team of adjudicators is marking the entries with the winners set to be announced next week.
“Our vision is to groom young writers of ChiTonga with the competition set to run every term. Deserving secondary school pupils within the district will be awarded,” Mudenda said.
He said at the end of each year, participants will attend a writers’ workshop which will see the budding writers interacting, networking and sharing notes with established authors of the language and cultural practitioners within the district.
“This competition is set to bridge the gap between young writers and established ones hence creating an environment for them to be mentored accordingly,” said Mudenda.
He said plans were underway to convert the stories into anthologies and publish them. Next year, they also intend to extend the competition to other languages that include and are not limited to Nambya, Nyanja, Sotho, Xhosa and Kalanga.
“Binga District has for long, been under-explored when it comes to its linguistic and cultural riches. This competition is designed to put together a team of passionate minds and see them share a story about the district, the language and its cultural riches,” he said.
Mudenda however, bemoaned the lack of network connectivity in the district saying it is stalling massive participation from every edge of the Tonga-speaking community.
“We had 64 participants, something which is likely going to force us to increase the winners from three to ten in the next instalment as the young people are clearly eager to take part.
“The only disadvantage for other aspirants is poor communication due to network challenges or lack of it. For example, Tyunga ward and Sinamusanga ward only had one entry although these two wards have three secondary schools. This is because there’s no network coverage in these areas,” said Mudenda.
The other organisations supporting the competition are Matabeleland North Provincial Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Shangano Arts Trust, Matabeleland North Provincial Arts Association, Necomel Creative Group, Lionness Panthera and individuals who share the same vision. — @mthabisi_mthire.