The Sunday News
In this 2017 publication, A Song to Bathabetsoe Diana Nare Mathema, Hon Cain Mathema pays attention to his heart, writing to the love of his life Bathabetsoe Diana Nare Mathema. Like a teenager in love, Cain Mathema opens up his heart exploring the joys and obstacles he encountered with his youthful wife Bathabetsoe Diana Nare. More interesting in this love poetry by Mathema is his exceptional artistry skills which date from 2007-2017 as indicated on each and every art work. Other illustrations from Cain and Bathabetsoe Diana’s wedding are well represented. Beyond narratives chronicling The House of Hunger, Mathema offers a reading on love. I find A Fine Madness in Cain Mathema’s poetry, so to borrow from Mashingaidze Gomo’s 2010 publication. Among other works, Mathema also wrote, I Worship King Mzilikazi (2018), I Join The ZAPU Armed Struggle (2018), Conversations with My River (2017) to mention only these among many.
In this love poetry, the longing to globe-trot on love expeditions makes the book interesting. Visiting galleries in Rome, intimating in Egyptian pyramids, enjoying the companion of love birds —flamingos and also the feeling of acceptance to love proposal is well expressed in a vivid tone which exudes the love found in youthful couples (p.7). The third stanza captures this well;
When you accepted my request,
I beat hard my chest
And felt weak in my knees
And whispered that the gods had finally accepted my pleas
For me to spend the rest of my life
In bliss, a life with no strife. (p.7)
Above that, love and natural landscapes forms another dimension to Cain Mathema’s poetic articulation. The Gwayi River seems to have a special place in his memories as he demonstrates that in honesty, he loves Diana and their marriage had Mzilikazi’s wedding brew as a prerequisite (p.9). Love stories and poems are more interesting especially with the natural environment playing its soothing role. Such is the case with Gwayi River as noted below;
On the banks of the Gwayi river can vouch for it
That I won’t hesitate, even a bit
To marry you, for why should I love you
Without a Mzilikazi wedding brew? (p.9)
Gwayi River is also well expressed in Conversations With My River (2017) indicates that;
My friend, I know King Mzilikazi crossed you
After visiting the Zambezi, and had a job to do
To establish a kingdom in this country
Full of nothing but love and beauty
My friend, I just always enjoy
You as I have done since I was a little boy. (p.5)
Moving from memories of longing to the wedding day, Mathema accounts for the joys which accompanied the day. He notes,
“ . . . even politicians had a good day
It was a gathering where they could stay
And speak and dance with the happy crowd
As they feasted and showed they too were too proud” (p.11)
Despite the media interpretations of the time to the wedding, Mathema insists that love is for two and nothing else (Nehanda Radio, 28.12.2016). Some of the Government officials who attended the wedding in 2016 include the then Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister, Dr Obert Mpofu with his wife Sikhanyisiwe, the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport and Recreation Dr Godfrey Chipare, Tsholotsho chiefs, headmen with friends and relatives. The couple wedded under the Marriage Act Chapter 5.11 with provincial magistrate Enias Magate. This, however, fulfils the contemporary hybridised marriage arrangements in Zimbabwe with a fusion of modernity and indigenous culture.
Diana Nare Mathema is also an educated young lady who graduated from Midlands State University in 2016 and graduated with a Masters’ degree in 2017 at the same institution of higher learning. On the day of graduation, Cain Mathema poetically notes that, “. . . in it you were a red-billed buffalo-weaver, Smiling to a red-billed ox-pecker” (p.37).
It is observable that Cain Mathema fits well with other seasoned poets, authors, academics who include Tafataona Mahoso who also brought an end to his poetic silence of twenty nine years in 2018 with his love anthology titled Rupise (symbolism of hot spring or geyser, possibly, drawing from Manicaland province in Zimbabwe where he hails from). The aesthetics found in poetry are well exposited by these mature citizens in a way that rekindles and or reawaken moments of romance, nature, and love in a changing world in cultural-scapes. Outside narratives of melancholy in Zimbabwe texts and poetry, works divorced from economic hardships as well as the burdens of uncertainty accompanied by such, Mathema, adds heartening insights to this body of literature which focuses on aesthetics. Towards the end of this poetic work, Cain Mathema notes that;
MaNare, for me, each day
Is our wedding one, a date to say
Our vows to each other again
A day on which we remove any stain
That may have crept in between you and me,
Being free with each other is the key. (p.29)
The poet sounds more of one in “double consciousness” as enunciated by Web Du Bois (The Souls of Black Folk, 1903). The desire to express oneself in the ‘Africanness’ and “Europeanness” manifests the “uncomfortable” circumstance the poet finds himself in.
Lastly, Cain Mathema’s poetry is his testimony to his wife that indeed, his joy is always over-flowing and never ending. It is no wonder, Mathema’s concluding remark is, “I love you to the end of this, our endless world.” Above all, Cain Mathema has remained a faithful veteran author, poet, short story writer and political analyst with Mathema Publishers producing quality edited works. Pofela Ndzozi, a seasoned scholar, edited and played a pivotal role in typesetting Cain Mathema’s books thereby making them worth reading and a cut above many works in 21st century Zimbabwe. Mathema Publishers can be viewed as a reliable emerging publishing house that offers professional writing services and result oriented proofreading and editing of books. As such, other young and emerging others can utilise this well-organised publisher to grow and develop to be mature writers.
– Brian Maregedze is a historian, author and columnist. He is also a Research Associate with Leaders for Africa Network, a Pan African research think-tank as well as a member with the Zimbabwe Historical Association (ZHA).
He can be contacted at [email protected] or alternatively, visit him at Valley Crest Academy in Waterfalls-Park town, Harare.