Back to Index
fall in love, Africans go to the club" - Interview with writer
February 01, 2011
Inside/Out with Mirirai Moyo
View audio file details
Mirirai Moyo, a promising emerging writer from Zimbabwe, is one
of the winners of the 2010 Golden Baobab Award, which features African
stories for children anywhere. Her short stories have featured in
The Sunday Mail, Fascinating Tales and Parade as well as Drum Magazine's
fiction segment. Her radio play, Belonging, was awarded Honourable
Mention in the BBC African Performance 2008 and published in Rory
Kilalea's collection In the Continuum and Other Plays (Weaver Press).
were awarded a special commendation for you radio script Belonging,
what inspired the story?
The story just sort of came to me. I was trying to write about something
else, a relationship between a young woman and her sugar daddy.
That's as far removed from a chicken and a hyena as possible,
but I'm in the middle of the story and it was feeling clichéd,
it's been over done. I have a habit of calling young women
who date older men ‘spring chickens' and from there
came the idea of why can't it be a chicken and a hyena and
they don't necessarily need to be in that kind of relationship.
Friendship is good enough, it has it's own complications.
I just wanted to write about that, that people from different backgrounds
can find common ground. All the adversity they had to face, the
complications within their communities and that despite all that
they can still maintain their friendship.
did you use animal characters?
You can do so much more with animals than with people, they're
so flexible. It's one of the things that I noticed once I
started doing it because all along I'd been writing stories
about human beings. All my Drum stories are actually about people.
But once you start writing about animals . . . animals are not
stereotyped. When you write about a lawyer he has to be this way,
but if you take a fly, and you can give it all the characteristics
that you want, it doesn't have to have a certain pattern of
behaving, you create for that animal. I just love that idea. And
then if you look at African folk tales, from the very beginning
our ancestors always told stories using animals. The beauty of those
stories if you listen to them, the narration . . . you just cant
are also the winner of the 2010 Golden Baobab Award. What does that
mean to you?
It means a lot. You need to understand that we're in a community
that doesn't appreciate what it means to be a writer. Most
people don't take writing seriously. They will read a story
and say ‘wow I love this story', but they don't
really understand what goes into the writing of it. Most people
assume that you just wake up and you have a flash, then you scribble
it down and send it in and it's published. They don't
understand the trail, labour that you go through to bring this idea
out so it can be perfect. It's kind of like you're explaining
yourself to your reader as perfectly as possible. People don't
understand what goes into that. To be given an award for a piece
of work that you've done, it doesn't matter what award
is, it's recognition and it feels great. You just hope that
it motivates other people who've got the same ideas to put
their ideas out there as well.
has winning the award affected or enhanced your career?
To be quite honest I've had a lot more interviews. I have
a friend who asked me the other day: "I Googled you and a
lot more stuff came up with your name on it. Does that mean you're
famous?" And I said " No it does not mean I'm
famous, but it means I exist." As a writer people will read
you and forget about you tomorrow. Some people read you and they
don't know who you are, they don't check the by line.
But once you've been put out there with an award like that
it's like you exist, more people recognize the name. It helps
you as a writer, because then it means you are more sought after
and when you make submissions it really helps when you are making
blind submission because you're writing that ‘I won
this prize' and automatically the reader of that email want
to see what you're about. It feels good to exist. I have been
writing for a long time, and yes now and then I get the occasional
person who gives me a pat on the back for my work. But now with
all the interviews I've been getting to do, I exist to more
people, and I can stand there and say I am a writer with pride.
do you think is the importance of having Africans telling African
Every time you say you're a writer people have a tendency
to pigeon hole you. They think you're going to be writing
about villages, AIDS and war. But you know what? Africans fall in
love, Africans go to the club, we live apartment blocks . . . I
hate it when I write a story and someone says this doesn't
feel African, it's too White. I've actually had experience
where someone will say these characters are not behaving African.
There's more to Africa than HIV/AIDS, and plagues. I'm
not saying lets not write those stories. They are also relevant,
but the African cannot be pigeon holed anymore, you can't
categorise us as village people, the hunters, or abused women in
Visit the Kubatana.net
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.