Home » General » Chirere’s ‘Bhuku Risina Basa’ Redefines Poetry

THERE are times you feel that the world owes you a lot of explanations for paying scanty regards to your existence, notwithstanding the immeasurable contributions you made in its stead. A lot of stories come to the fore each time you turn the hands of time stories that make you feel like crying, either with glee or grief stories that give you a lot of hope despite the

yawning horizon you see receding ceaselessly.

Sometimes you get carried away into the nostalgic past or hoisted into the unknown and yet beckoning future, as the present seems to be burdensome.

Experiences are a hotchpotch basket where you pick your own fill depending on your take, background and many a time, race, yet you sometimes fail to pick a tune in the music that the world proffers in an attempt to help you choose, as if there is really a choice.

True, hurt is ever juxtaposed with love, life with death, wounds with healing such is the irony of creation, and yet you are convinced that no one knows or understands your story you who is just faceless and nameless.

You want all and sundry to fathom the intricate nature of your joyous, gleeful, sorrowful, hurtful and ennobling being, but you seem devoid of words.

There seems to be no words to describe it all that is when you yearn for the artist to soothe you with his or her music, paintings, poetry, stories or plays.

Artists have such a way with words that experiences become anew and a whole lot of meanings interact and merge into one social or national discourse.

Memory Chirere is one such artist, whose prowess in words is not informed by poetic license, or contrived use of language which makes reading in any genre cumbersome, but is anchored in the everyday usage of language.

Chirere revolutionises poetry in the Shona language in his anthology of poetry “Bhuku Risina Basa” (2014).

Using every day conversational language, the artist pokes at the very core of human nature.

He is able to capture individual discourses, not by telling the individual who he or she is, or pretending to know it all, but by simply reminding the individual the words he or she so much yearned for to tell his or her story the words whose significance has been relegated to the annals of memory, and only needed kindling to give them impetus.

Using carefully chosen words, the poet implores the individual to carefully examine the simple issues that he or she takes for granted by poking at the generally ensconced human foible of waiting for disaster to strike to awaken to the knowledge of the existence of misfortune.

The individual, in Chirere’s eyes is as responsible for his or her own suffering as much as he or she is to blame for others’ predicament, only that everything seems to be in abeyance, as an alien intervention is sought to give form, contours and a soul to what is already known.

The rich variety of forms, ranging from the conventional, ballad, haiku to lyrical poems, lends an experimental appeal which makes it easier for the reader to locate his or her individual discourse in a plethora of discourses that the persona alludes to.

The collection also taps into the rich African traditions of oratory which authenticates the experiences highlighted and heightens the deciphering of the different thematic concerns raised.

In plain words the poet dares the individual to reconsider the image that he or she sees in the mirror, not only as his or her own reflection, but as the outcome of his or her actions. One can become whoever one wishes to be as long as one realizes the folly of putting the cart before the horse. Because of the connotative and denotative implications in the poetry, it will be trite to pick a particular theme or themes from any of the poems.

Though the explicit meanings seem clear as a result of the user friendly language used, the implicit meanings within beckon for closer attention. Words do not mean what they mean because we wish them to, but because they are premised on experiences that are etched within our psyches in the hands of a wordsmith, they simply tell our story in their own unique way. Chirere’s words, which of course are the words that pervade our lives, are powerful in their simplicity, as they ignite all our experiences in one explosive volley.

What we wish to espouse as an epitome of love, glee or exuberance, may really be exposing our inherent mediocrity or myopia. The celebrations at weddings or birthdays which are noble in their promotion of love, as they bring families together, can be read as calamities in waiting.

Chirere is all too aware that true love should be the precursor of marriage, as the institution goes further than the merrymaking, well wishes of relatives and the vows and kisses at the instigation of the Priest or marriage officer. The kisses fail to withstand the pressures and vagaries of reality as the couple finds solace in their wedding pictures.

Marriage also brings with it responsibilities which are closely linked to the obtaining economic and political landscape as a consequence the desires of the heart suffer in the wake of the need to sustain the physical being. Thus, the celebration of a birthday in rented apartments, however affluent they may seem to be, fails to closely look at the nature of

Time and unfair distribution of wealth. It is this that the poet wittingly bares, lambasts and corrects by appealing to the individual to desist from ephemeral inclinations for the sake of progress.

Without making it obvious, the poet adeptly visits the thorny political landscape, which is not only baneful to individual aspirations, but national and continental ones as well. Though differences in affiliations are fruitful, the people’s poet reasons, transparence and home grown solutions should be sought. It is this that has prompted the titling of the anthology, as people usually want to hide under the cover of darkness for their nocturnal machinations. Whatever is done in broad daylight is frowned at because it is said to bring shame. However, the knowledge of the existence of shame cannot be wished away by engaging the darkness to be witness to our shameless deeds.

Fighting a brother from the enemy’s corner because of material gain or otherwise, orchestrated in darkness is as deceitful as it is destructive.

Imperialistic products like tea and sugar are used to create images of both colonial and neo-colonial oppression, yet the African cannot unshackle himself from this labyrinthine connection, not because he is unable, but because he lacks the will to. The African has to seek redemption in his own roots instead of promoting Western values, which is also affecting the new generations who do not seem to find anything to emulate from what should be their home.

With the vast resources in its womb, complemented by the warmth and hard-working nature of her people, Africa should not be bleeding as profusely as she is doing.

Economic refuge has also robbed the motherland of true ambassadors who can defend societal values enshrined in their culture. Religious intolerance doesn’t help in this regard either as materialism, hypocrisy and deceit take precedence.

The manifestation of sacred cows do not escape the poet’s surgical blade either, as the needy fail to access the nutritious milk from their adders, yet a selected few can milk them willy-nilly, even directly into their mouths or onto the eagerly waiting and surprised earth. Such is the nature of political expedience and aggrandizement that Chirere takes a swipe at using the satirist trope.

There is so much hope for the nation if the individual makes up his or her mind on who exactly he or she is knowing that whatever decision he or she makes can hone or blunt the blade that chisels the motherland’s destiny. Self-introspection is the way to go for the sake of progress and regeneration, as the reading of Memory Chirere’s hilarious, scintillating, captivating and evocative “Bhuku Risina Basa” (2014) reveals.

Source : The Herald