Meet the Author: Oswald Kucherera

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.

The Exodus Down South

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.

 

Meet the Author: Kentse Badirwang

 This month on our Meet the Author feature, we speak to Kentse Badirwang. We spoke to the author on her debut as the new kid on the African Lit block.

Kattey’s Arrow is a story of a young girl who survived multiple rapes; multiple waves of abuse and setbacks. The story starts off with the uncertainty of hope, a continuous wrestling match of survival but ends with a glimpse of internal reconciliation, and forgiveness. Kattey does not at all assume to forgive and forget but lives through it all. Regaining her power, and her will to survive not only for herself but for her two sons.

For me as a reader, it represented courage, discipline, hope, and moreover victory. I mean how does one live to tell such a story? Only in movies, I think, except this happened to her, repeatedly!

The author awarded us her time to talk more about Kattey’s Arrow:

AAB: What inspired you to write Kattey’s Arrow?


My intention was to write a story to myself highlighting all the painful memories and experiences that broke my spirit over the years. What inspired me was the need to heal myself and the people who might have travelled difficult journeys in their lives. I kept a diary when I was a little girl and I remembered how writing always made me feel better.

AAB: How did you come up with the title?


Kattey was a name I used when I lived in Hillbrow and I came up with the Arrow to represent my spiritual understanding of my life journey.

AAB: I remember chatting with a friend about the book and we wondered what were the arrows you were talking about. 


I wanted a title that would reflect the main character in the book and give a reader an opportunity to figure out in their own view after reading the book what ‘the arrow’ could stand for.

AAB: How much of the book is realistic or fictional? Is it all based on your own life?


The entire book is a true story based on my life.

AAB: What was your favourite chapter to write and why?


Putting it on paper was a very painful experience. I wrote every chapter with tears and a lot of heartache. Even today I am still going through the healing process. I cannot, therefore, see any chapter as being a favorite but I pride myself in finishing the book. Closest to my heart though is the poems: ‘mama’ in chapter 5, ‘the seed’ in chapter 6, and ‘I am there’ in chapter 15 as they were written to express my love for my mother and my 2 sons.

AAB: How did publishing your first book change/affect you?


Publishing my 1st book was more than a dream come true. I believed in myself more.  I found the darkness that I have kept locked up deep inside my soul was now out it the open. I had found my internal peace. I am now free from emotional distress. A ‘healing achievement’ if I may call it that.

AAB: How long did the whole process take?


The process of writing the book took 2 years. One whole year of publishing; editing; layout and design; proofreading,  and then finally a complete 253 pages of my life wrapped up in a glow of hope. Amazing feeling. Before that, I had 6 years of rejection from publishing companies.

AAB: Your family is a big part of your story; did they support you on this artistic process?

My family supported me in the end when they realised there was no way I was going to give up my dream of a 9 to 5 job. I was in it for life. I am made up of words and to words, I was going to return.

AAB: Does this mean you see writing as a career now?

There’s is nothing more fulfilling than doing what you love, writing to me is a blessed form of art and a career path that I will carry.

Kentse Badirwang – Kattey’s Arrow

AAB: What are your current projects?

I have written and completed 2 books in Setswana. I want to embrace my Tswana language for our future generation as I feel our African languages are slowly dying and not being celebrated in writing. I am now busy with my 4th manuscript which I haven’t named yet. I am also involved in various campaigns which have objectives that are close to my heart i.e. girl child empowerment, victim empowerment programs, anti-rape and gender-based violence campaigns, and other initiatives which are focused on ensuring a girl child remains in school.

AAB: Any words to your readers and fans?

I would like to take this time to sincerely thank everyone who has read my book and supported my work. Being the new kid on the block, I did not expect such a great and amazing reception of my book. I was so stunned by all the reviews and feedback. To those who haven’t had a chance to read my book make sure you bless yourself with reading my journey as I know it will leave you with a new seed of hope and strength that will forever be with you. To my fans! Hahaaa do I have fans? If they are there, God is amazing. I love them with my ‘meet me at the river’ love, very rare and special. Thank you.

AAB: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us but wait, how can your fans (YES YOU DO HAVE FANS) get in touch with you?

Website : www.kentsebadirwang.co.za
eMail : [email protected], [email protected]
Facebook : Kentse Badirwang
Twit
ter :@KatteysArrow
Instagram:
Kentseb

Available at: Amazon, Smashwords, Allafricanbooks.com, Bridge Books 85 Commissioner St. Joburg, Ebenezer Book Store, shop 3 Victoria Street, Mafikeng

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