t was an evening to remember at the Book Cafe in Harare last night as Zambian born South African/Zimbabwean author Zukiswa Wanner launched two of her books in the Zimbabwean capital. The books in question are her first book The Madams (2006) and her most recent book Men of The South (2010). It was homecoming for the author who was raised and educated in Zimbabwe.
The evening started a bit less than ideally as rains pounded the city as the launch was about the begin. Nairobi folks know what rain means for an evening; the liquid substance is seen almost like acid raining down on the country to disfigure faces and must be avoided at all costs. The same applies to Harare folk and it took a while before they did make it the evening’s festivities.
It all started with an enactment of Men of the South by three excellent actors led by Blessing Hungwe. They each took one of the three main male characters in the book struggling jazz artist Mfundo, gay Zulu guy Mzilikazi and Zimbabwean immigrant to South Africa seeking to normalise his stay there Tinaye and made them visible to us.
This was followed by a panel discussion between Wanner and fellow Zambia born Zimbabwean and writer Petina Gappah. It was one of those discussions which were on what motivated Wanner to start writing, what were her favourite books as she grew up and what her future projects were. The audience who had come in their dozens also got an opportunity to engage with the well travelled author.
The evening ended with a performance by one of the more respected singers in the Zimbabwean musical scene Prudence Katomeni who performed a few numbers to much appreciation from the assembled crowd.