Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Restocking Schoolbooks

Bravo Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture!
I was delighted to read- not that far back ago- that the Ministry is to embark on a programme to restock secondary schools with textbooks. The Standard of 20-26 March 2011 quoted Minister David Coltart as saying, “We want to have a 1:1 ratios for all textbooks at secondary schools as well so that we can restore excellence in our education sector...” sentiments that justifiably earned him My Week Spot for 21-28 March 2011.
Regular readers of my blog will understand the more obvious reason for my elation. But really it is more than that...
That the government- with the help of NGOs- has already done this for primary schools is commendable. Such initiatives will be to the great benefit of the children of Zimbabwe, innocent victims of an economic crisis not of their own making. I applaud government efforts to improve the educational experience of the Zimbabwean schoolchild in whose hands our country’s tomorrow rests.
As a writer I am also pleased because the government’s programme will serve to curb the photocopying of prescribed study texts, an alarming practice (particularly when you’re a writer) which for some reason or other has not seemed to warrant the same media glare as movie, music piracy yet it too is an infringement of someone’s copyright.

My hope is that the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture will now progress to funding the making of films adapted from writing by local novelists, playwrights and storytellers, like Belonging, the BBC radio play I am presently campaigning to have made into an animated feature film. Needless to say, such projects would provide incomes and exposure for local artistes across the board; actors, musicians, artists , graphic designers, not to mention the wide range of technical staff.  For an unknown in a disadvantaged community, it could be the beginning of a livelihood. Hollywood blockbuster funding is not necessary when it can all be done locally, a Zimbabwean film, by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans- and the world. The talent is here. All that is required is the financial and logistical assistance to uplift it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How To Invite People To Join The Facebook Group to take Belonging to the Big Screen

Facebook has been a learning curve for me, some (most actually) of those lessons learnt against the clock- $1/ 1hour or $1 per 30 minutes depending on which internet cafĂ© I would be using at the time. I’m not the only first-timer to struggle manoeuvring the maze of Facebook functions, if the kind queries I have received on how to invite other members to the group are anything to go by.
Taking into account that most of you have other pressing demands on their time or limited internet access, I thought I should remove the challenge of trying to figure out where to go and what to do in the limited time you may have before the boss peeks out of his office/ over your shoulder or your internet session times out. Far be it for me to promote sneaking onto Facebook during working hours, but this is to a greater end...

Mirirai’s 6- Step Guide for the benefit of those who’ve asked and those who haven’t but need it too:

Experts you are free to correct me where I am wrong...

STEP 1. Open the Make Belonging an Animated Feature Film Facebook group page. (You can type a search for the group name if you do not know how to get there)

STEP 2. Click 'Invite People to Join'- under the profile photo (of the script cover page)

STEP 3.  
NB: Friends have complained the lazier (I mean easier) Select 'All’ option above the box of their friends’ pictures has not worked for them. We shall assume (because we don’t work at Facebook) that this might be because we will have mutual friends who are already members and perhaps the system is set so as not to resend them invitations they have already accepted. Therefore...

Click on the photo of each person you are inviting. A tick should appear at the left hand corner of their image. Where an image appears greyer/duller than all the other photos and a tick does not appear, chances are the individual in question is already a member. So go on to the next photo. Click to continue to the next page of photos if necessary (page numbers underneath the photos window).

STEP 4. Satisfied you have ticked everyone you want to invite... scroll down the web page to Add a Personal Message.  This is optional. I would imagine we are all generally more inclined to accept an invitation with a pleasant note attached, even when it has to be short.
Don’t know where to begin..?

-          Please join the journey to a dream...   Listen to Belonging here
-          Please support the campaign to have Belonging, the radio drama by Mirirai Moyo made into an animated feature film. Listen to Belonging (for free) Listen here

At the end of the day, you know how best to talk to your friends. Urge them to invite their own friends too if you can.
Try not to forget to add the link to what we are campaigning for... for the benefit of those who have never heard or read Belonging- my brother assures me it is very helpful because I often forget myself.

STEP 5. Click 'Send Invitations' below.

If done properly a list of all the people to whom you have successfully sent invitations will appear at the top of the page when you are through.

STEP 6. Pat yourself on the back... For having done what is in your power to put the campaign for ‘Belonging’ out there.

Thank you for your support. Mirirai

Monday, March 28, 2011

So Chuffed!

I was chuffed... Miss Kelly, my English teacher would probably have slashed her pen across the length of this page for my use of a slang term right now, shrieking “Chuffed! What is ‘chuffed’?”  I miss Miss Kelly... But chuffed is how I felt when updating a friend’s younger sister, on vacation from university, about my activities and after I told her about the Facebook group, she asked that I send her an invitation so she could join. Then the dear girl went on to score further points in my heart forever when she offered, without any prompting on my part (I swear), to invite all her other Facebook Friends to join! And she would have done it there and then too if we could have figured out how to do so using the internet on her cellphone.
Then there was the young man I met at his father’s office who didn’t know me from Eve. And yet when he heard about the campaign group (conversation with me invariably heads in that direction)... he took such interest (in the group tssk) that the next time I saw him and he managed to get online, he typed in a search for the group, joined- and there  and then proceeded to invite all his friends to join the journey to my dream. Incredible! As is every single one of you that has done the same upon request or by your own judgement. You are all so incredible and I am so chuffed.

Cyberspace is a biiiiiiig (Miss Kelly would have a fit, but I only meant this for emphasis) extensive place. And full of ideas i.e campaigns, lobbies, petitions...  
Womens Rights Campaigns  ;
Children's Rights ;
Fight Hate and Racism ;
Save The Environment 

It is not easy for a crusade to be noticed in the endless mass of serious- and some not so serious- online crusades there are or to catch the right eye, the right ear. Still you have that something that you are so passionate about, so sure of- so you are willing to take the chance. You put it out there. You know what you must do and you do what is in your power to do. But that is as much as you are able to do.
I cannot will the winds of fate to blow the link for Belonging into stranger’s Inboxes or onto their Walls. I can only hope that if I tell someone I know about Belonging/ what I’m trying to do, they will tell someone (or others) that I don’t know (so cannot tell myself) and they in turn will reach that other (those others) that I and our mutual friend did not know... and so it will go on. Because it is a good word (and a link) shared from friend to friend(s) that can grow the campaign for Belonging into a force noticeable by all... which is why I can’t help being so ‘chuffed’ (forgive me, Miss Kelly) every time anyone passes on the word...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And Then We Were 255...

Wandering the wilderness of No Laptop Land, sometimes the only way I had to keep my spirits buoyant was checking the membership of the Facebook group for the Belonging campaign. So I was a little put out early into that nightmare when I was advised not to divulge the number of members in the group to prospective producers in my submissions.
Because anything less than 100 did not count when talking of online group figures, I was assured. Membership was in the 60s for the Belonging campaign at the time. I saw where the advice-giver was going...
Success seems to only come in MILLIONS in cyberspace!

And good for all the above! But all these started from 1, 2, 3... 10... even if only in their first second/ minute or hour... And yes, even Charlie Sheen with his Guiness World Record breaking feat of  becoming the fastest person to reach 1 million followers on Twitter. They all had to start somewhere... So 67 counted for me. As did the 50 something before it, the 40 something before that and every other (for want of a better expression) ‘lesser’ number before arriving at that. But I was conscious of a pressure (that I really didn’t need at that point) to get the numbers rising.

Going into the 80s, 90s- regardless of whether pundits deemed the head count noteworthy or not- was growth. When we reached 103, I distinctly remember suppressing the surge of excitement in case some left the group and we would be back in the 90s. As we pushed through the 180s, I suppose there was an element of smug satisfaction...Where we hadn’t before, now we ‘counted’.

And then- before I knew it- we were at 255! OMG! (as the techno generation’s lingo goes) The incredible feeling any support will inspire then multiply that by the 254 standing with me for my dream for Belonging as of this morning and you will get an idea of how good I am feeling. So good that I have decided to put up a Member Metre on the blog (left column). So we can keep track of the group's growth from here, ponder on it and enjoy it together.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Interview on Kubatana.net

At the beginning of the year, I sent Kubatana an email sharing my New Year Resolution as they had invited their readers to do. No prizes for guessing what mine was (3rd from top). I would never have imagined being asked to do an interview. Over the years, the Kubatana newsletter has been a resource for social commentary, opportunities (contests, grants, fellowships and vacancies)... see the opportunity in Mi Week Spot (left hand column). My reaction therefore at the thought of being in Kubatana ( profile and all) as an interviewee-  Hello!- can  only be imagined! Fever pitch delirium.
Because it was a defining moment that went unmentioned here as I was wandering, lost in the wilderness of No Laptop Land... for the benefit of those of you who haven’t had a chance to read (or listen to it- they have audio file options too) here is my Kubatana interview.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Belonging for ‘A’ Level Study!

This past week, I learnt that ‘In the Continuum and Other Plays’, the textbook which features four plays including ‘Belonging’ has been  (in my publishers words)... put on the A-level list of prescribed texts! This means local school children are going to be reading Mirirai Moyo (okay, my work...) along with Ibsen, Pinter and Wilde!
While this will not be putting me anywhere near the JK Rowlings et al earnings bracket, it is an incredibly satisfying (emotionally- hey, money's not everything!) achievement.

When I think of the authors that have sat in those classrooms before me- Chinua Achebe, Ngugi waThiongo, Shimmer Chinodya, Charles Mungoshi, Yvonne Vera, Tsitsi Dangerembga amongst others and the great man of words, ah yes- Shakespeare himself (this is the point where I swoon), I have this indescribable feeling deep inside. To tread (even if it is just in mincing tiptoes) where such great literary luminaries have gone is humbling. And it reminds me of how much further I have to (and want to) go.

And the idea that young people all over my country are going to be reading my work, putting their interpretations to my words is truly incredible... and I must say, daunting. I hope that they come away from the story of Kuku having learned something about life... as they certainly will from the other plays:
In The Continuum by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter
When I Meet My Mother by  Kathleen McCreery
Power Failure by Jide Olugbenga Afolayan
And most important of all, I hope they derive the same pleasure in reading In the Continuum and Other Plays as I did (and still do) in the books that have moulded my thinking to this point in my life.

Monday, February 28, 2011

She’s Back...

Those of you who have been there during the demise of my laptops stand as witness to how badly I take it.
When Geri (my first) crashed, my world as I had come to know it fell to pieces. You know how these gadgets have a way of... making you completely dependent on them. The heart- wrenching despair, all consuming for it being the first catastrophe of its nature (to befall me). Sleepless nights. Loss of appetite.  I lost all will to do anything really with no direct relation to restoration of Geri. There is the vivid recollection of mornings laying siege to a talented I.T student’s house on whom I had pinned the hope of bringing my beloved back to life. It can only be imagined what his mother must have thought at a tearful female at her gate- before 7am- with a bag... Yes, there were tears.

I was less of a wreck this time. Okay, slightly less of a wreck... My calls to my brother about Geri’s replacement acting up (switching off abruptly mid-use) were more er composed- I believe. At least this time I didn’t lay siege to anyone’s house... And I didn’t lose the will to live... completely...  I just didn’t feel I could do anything without my machine. My blog posts fell behind. Even my contest postings are out of date. As my Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada look-alike former boss would exclaim- “Mirirai!” Few things get me riled more than time wasted scrolling my eye down expired contest posts. Especially as internet in Zimbabwe doesn’t come cheap.
I was always going to snap out of my zombie-like state one way or another- even if a helpful techie had not found a costless (albeit temporary- heavy sigh) way around my problem. The lesson learnt and to be remembered (hopefully) should I have similar troubles in future... Life won’t stop because something stops functioning as it should. And a word of advice: Back up.