With anticipation high on who shall walk away with honours at the prestigious Bulawayo Arts Awards tonight, Gwanda pins its hopes on the literary works of their adopted writer, Robert Mukondiwa.
The book “Oliver Mtukudzi and Me, A Life In Song And Media” threatens to be the first non-fiction book to win an award in the English category.
A seasoned journalist, author, television presenter and documentary maker, Mukondiwa traded ink for mining, joining Duration Gold’s Vubachikwe Mine and becoming an honorary Jahunda as the Gwanda natives are known.
He may bring the coveted golden statuette to the mining town. And for a man now used to handling gold in the mines, this would be familiar territory but definitely his finest moment.
“The nomination was awesome. Look, I am a Nketa boy and coming back home to Matabeleland and being given a nomination made me feel welcomed back home,” said the Old Miltonian.
“This book meant so much to me and speaks to my love of life and counsel as well as my media experiences but revolving mainly around perhaps the greatest star and export from our country, Oliver Mtukudzi,” he said.
His previous book, The Judas Files, was nominated for a National Arts Merit Award in 2016.
“Maybe it was the gods wanting me to come back home,” he said.
Under the moniker “Son of Senzeni”, Mukondiwa says the nomination is a tribute to his mother who shaped his love for language and his thirst for writing.
“My mother went with me as my date to the Nama Awards gala a few months after having been diagnosed with breast cancer and having her breast removed. I wanted to win it for her then but unfortunately we didn’t get it. It would have made her ecstatic. Sadly she passed away in 2020 and I dedicate this nomination to Senzeni and hope to make her proud. In fact, I already have,” he declared.
“She broke my heart with her departure and this time I won’t have her as my date but as I will always love her, I will be carrying her in my heart like the fire that she was and is to my life. I owe it all to her,” he said.
Mukondiwa says he would like to add to the rich culture of literature in Matabeleland.
“The success of ‘Oliver Mtukudzi and Me’ is evidence that people want stories of their heroes told and preserved in written text. I have my eyes on luminaries like Lovemore Majaivana who recently turned 69 and figures like Cont Mhlanga and even the emerging names like Jah Prayzah. We should start telling the stories of our stars respectfully so we capture their shine in the written text. I hope corporations will support that dream because writing can be remarkably expensive and funding is very crucial,” he said.
“I remember one of my finest moments was interviewing Fanyana Dube who I had loved as a young boy. It was one of my first assignments as a journalist and sadly he passed away after that interview making me the last person to feature him in a newspaper article.
“It was at that moment in 2004, I think it was, that I told myself my wish would be to write autobiographies sometime in my life. With me exiting the newsroom, hopefully for good, I would want to pursue biographies a bit more before I leave writing altogether,” he said.