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Sometimes the road writers walk is not easy it requires patience and a community of kindred spirit to keep the gift afloat. For reasons known and unknown, some writers have totally given up their pens while others have struggled on.Yet, for writers like Norton-based Aleck Kaposa, the talent keeps knocking on their doors even when they, like the Biblical Jonah, try to escape to the other side.

Kaposa started writing while he was an Ellis Robins Boys High School student in Harare. For six years at Ellis Robins, he wrote for The Robins Monitor, a school magazine which he also helped in editing.

As with any gift, Kaposa’s writing talent swayed him to choose no other course after school but journalism and teaching.

He also started conducting weekly solo poetry readings at the Book Cafeacute (old location at Five Avenue Shopping Centre) and also broadcasting his poetry on radio. In 1996 he won second prize in a Grassroots Books national book review competition. Some of his early poems and short stories were published in various media and this pushed him onward.

Many in the writing community will remember the glorious days of the now defunct Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe which nurtured some of the talent today shining. In those days BWAZ branches like Mutoko, Murewa, Chitungwiza, Harare and Norton, led a pack of exuberant, promising budding writers and poets. Kaposa chaired the Norton Chapter for four years from 2000.

As the leader of the Norton Chapter, he together with other ambitious young writers came up with the community newspaper called Knowtown News and The New Voices Magazine. In 2008, the magazine got a nomination for a National Arts Merit Award in the Outstanding First Creative Published Work category.

Kaposa improved not only his writing skills but also editing skills which helped him edit Charles Mutyasira’s book titled “African Renaissance” published in 2002.

Norton is a lucky community as the late renowned writer Julius Chingono also came from that place. As a published writer, Chingono inspired Kaposa and his friends to write and read widely. It was Chingono’s nature to mingle with youngsters and inspire them at poetry places like the Book Cafeacute in Harare. His satirical poetry won the hearts of poetry lovers whenever he took to the stage to read.

Kaposa was one of the fortunate new writers in Norton to actually spend time with Chingono or “Mudhara Judza” as he was nicknamed by the young poets.

As a bachelor then, Kaposa would invite Chingono to his place and they would spend hours reading and writing poetry or exchanging their writings, drinking tea.

“Sometimes Chingono invited me to sit with him at different places just to observe human behaviour for stories he was developing. He made valuable comments about my writing and respected me also as an English language teacher. He was so humble even though he was older than me,” reflects Kaposa.

Another product of Norton is the rising poet Linda Gabriel popularly known as “The Poetic Angel”. Gabriel is a former student at FOKA College in Norton and no doubt she has her own testimony about Mdara Judza. She has travelled to many places abroad to perform her poetry in the same way Chingono the excellent mentor did carry his poetry to far lands.

Yet as a dark cloud began to hang over the writing industry in 2008 because of the economic challenges, Kaposa found himself having to decide between the pen and the belly. Reading culture began to diminish and a few people seemed interested in news about books.

Piracy had chipped in to eat at the already bleeding flesh of hope for local writers. Luckily, Kaposa in 2009 founded a private college in Norton called Norton Education Centre. With all this demotivation around him, his college became the only cushion to fall back on. And yet his writing, in some way, suffered as the economic storm gathered momentum.

Kaposa lost hope and for a long time he stopped writing. He says he only started to seriously write last year when he became aware of the existence of Writers International Network Zimbabwe and got affiliated immediately.

“I had written quite a lot of work which no one was ready to publish because of the economic hardships the country was experiencing. I had come a long way from publishing stories and poems in Knowtown News, BWAZ magazine, New Generation newspaper, Tsotso Magazine, the Weekly Sun and many others. I had greater expectations but only to meet a sad scenario. I decided to give up but somehow when WIN kind of invited me to write again, it won me back from my despair,” said Kaposa.

WIN, formed in 2010, is a NAMA award winning association of new writers and poets. It conducts literary activities designed to help its members become professional and original.

Kaposa’s contact with WIN marked his return to serious writing that now he has started re-working his collection of children’s stories titled “The Magician and Other Stories” which he tried to self-publish before.

In terms of networking and sharing of ideas, Kaposa testified that writers’ organisations play a greater role.

“In my view, writers’ organisations serve a good purpose as far as networking and sharing of ideas is concerned. But when it comes to writing you write as an individual. These days, with technology one can network easily and the experience can be enriching,” said Kaposa.

He has since become an active member of WIN and is one of the editors of the organization’s pilot poetry magazine which will feature poems gleaned from its Whatsapp group.

“Working in one of WIN project has restored me. It does bring back memories of the writing and criticism sessions of the 90’s at BWAZ. It is good God has kept us until this reunion as I have seen that sitting on WIN Board are some familiar names like Emmanuel Sigauke who was very instrumental in helping budding writers during the early days of BWAZ,” Kaposa said.

Chingono, who greatly influenced Kaposa and various other new writers in Zimbabwe, was the founding board member of WIN.

By being involved in a project that his late mentor endorsed, Kaposa has therefore connected with the very same talent which difficult circumstances tried to take away from him.

With this new-found energy, he says he hopes to publish more poetry and short stories mainly for children.

Born in 1975 in Hurungwe, Kaposa is married and lives with his family in Norton.

Source : The Herald

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