We had a great chat with Oswald Kucherera the other day. He talks about his new book The Exodus Down South.
It takes me 45 minutes by train to Cape Town city and having a book to read helps a lot. You avoid eye contact with the restless kids and close yourself off to the relentless conveyor belt of blind singers asking for money. I took The Exodus Down South book.
Oswald Kucherera was born in Nyajena village in Masvingo near Great Zimbabwe. His story is about a man who does possess an inkling of self-entitlement. He did not come to South Africa to steal anyone’s job or woman. He came with the hope, to start afresh.
This is his story.
“Growing up I wanted to become an accountant, even when doing my A-Levels I was doing accounting and geography. I worked in a bank, starting as a ledger clerk and also being trained to become a teller. I got exposed to reading when I came to South Africa. And through reading, I thought, “ah, I think I can also write”. I started writing poetry. I started going to poetry circles with friends. We used to go to the Tagaras in Obs and the Anarchist Bookshop.
There is a group called the Poetics Music Not For the Sake of it and Black Consciousness Poetry. I would float around such groups. I then tried writing short stories and wrote a very beautiful short story called Travelling on the Khayelitsha train. It was this story that announced my arrival as a writer. I got invited to events to speak about my writing.
Before we came here, we were sold a lie. We were told that if we go to South Africa things will be better, it will be ok. It was not the ”heaven” we were told it was. We realised that South Africa has the same issues as us and came to understand why South Africans can be edgy when it comes to us. Like if you go to places like Khayelitsha and see how people are living in poverty, you cannot put blame on their attitude toward people like us.
I had been interviewed a lot by people trying to understand the lives of people who are moved from their places of birth; immigrants and refugees. I felt like I should write a book in addition to some kind of material for people to understand our struggles. Zim continues to be stagnant, at least here you feel that there is some kind of opportunities. At least you are building some networks and those things help you a lot to further opportunities in life.
Since my book came out I am under pressure from my readers to write more. They feel The Exodus Down South was a bit too short. I learned a lot from this project. It was self-funded, and there were challenges in marketing the book. I had to go all through all the processes but found that marketing the book was the most testing.
Going self-publishing is always the best route but you have to know how to market your book. I mean even with traditional publishers, they will expect you to also promote the book but at least there will be someone helping you.
At the moment I am a Human Rights Peer Educator at Africa Unite and a cub research writer for Science Stars Magazine. When I started my activism, we built a resource centre in Khayelitsha, Ambo. We had programs like poetry sessions, music programs, and film screenings with kids. While we were doing documentary screenings, there was a lady who highlighted the genocide happening in West Papua that people are currently not aware of.
So we decided to screen The Road to Home documentary, a documentary about the leader of West Papua, Benny Wenda who is in exile in the UK but importantly it exposes the human rights abuses in West Papua. After seeing the documentary, we decided to join the online Free West Papua campaign and started corresponding with the leaders.
As a community organisation, we are trying to create awareness around the West Papua campaign. We are running a petition which we’ll be taking to the United Nations and we need about 10,000 signatures but our aim is to send the petition to the African Union.
On the 6th-19th March, we are hosting a photographic exhibition of the West Papua campaign to create more awareness around this genocide”. – Oswald Kucherera
His book is available right here at All African Books: The Exodus Down South
You can follow Oswald on Facebook to learn more about his book.