The Sunday News
SHORT story writing is a genre of writing on its own. It is not the place to hide extracts of failed or unpublished novels. Great short story writers are usually those that sit down to write exactly that; short stories. A writer once said the writing of short stories is usually more difficult than that of novels and biographies while another said short story writing is both about creating things on your page and also eliminating a lot on that same page.
As writers create and nurture their stories, most are aware of the need to put on paper only the bare essentials as the form offers no room for embroidery and unnecessary details.
Short Story writing demands simplicity and clarity of thought and in this ‘simplicity’ a writer can still tell a complex story. What others call complexity in simplicity. This is the genre that the Intwasa Short Story competition seeks to support and promote. It has been doing so for years.
At one point this competition was called the Yvonne Vera award, in memory of the late Dr. Yvonne Vera. Suffice to say that some previous winners have gone on to do wonderful literary projects across the globe. The writing competition has been both a training ground for new writers and a space to find new literary voices. It is also important to note that Intwasa has been using the competition as a celebratory platform showcasing the diversity and power of Zimbabwean creative writing.
From the beginning one of the objectives of the competition has always been to get the good stories, especially those that make it into the long list, published. In the past publishing the stories has been very difficult as publishing slowly became unaffordable and elitist. In all honesty publishing costs have gone beyond the means of any ordinary writer, worse for new and unemployed ones.
Currently, there are no publishers in Bulawayo taking and publishing fiction. Most of the literary work coming out in the city is self-published. However, there are still a few publishers whose focus is publishing educational books as these have a ready market in schools and other educational institutions. So, publishing fiction has not been easy, not just for Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo, but many creative writers based in the city. And yet we are a story people.
Undeniably, so. We love stories; telling them, reading them and even listening to them. So as Intwasa continued to organise the short story writing competition and sharing the winning stories in whatever platforms were available – Facebook and the festival’s website, the hope was still that one day the festival will be able to publish and make these stories available in the printed form.
Finally, this is happening. The festival is publishing its first short story anthology this 2021. The biggest irony is that this is happening right in the midst of a very difficult year – remember we are facing a global pandemic. The publication is happening courtesy of the generous support of the Open Society of Southern Africa (OSISA). The anthology consists of the 2020’s long list and competition’s 2019 winner.
It is our hope that this is the first of many short story publications to come and the beginning of a long journey of sharing our stories with our communities and the world at large through the printed form. The anthology includes
Takatso Sibanda’s Healing, Lungile Getrude Msimanga’s Drought, Emelda Nyaradzai Gwatimah’s The Jacaranda Letter, Billet-doux Wisdom Siqhoza’s Do you need a hand? Nkosilesisa Kwanele Ncube’s Fifteen Years A Wife, Rodney Manyakaidze’s Tawe’s Redemption and other stories.
Many thanks to the thousands of writers who, throughout the many years, have responded to Intwasa’s calls for short stories. Many thanks to those who submitted stories for 2020 edition. Your participation made the project worth all the effort and sweat. Many thanks to judges. The 2020 judges were Christopher Mlalazi, Grace Maguri, Mthandazo Mahlangu and Mgcini Nyoni.
We know judging creative work has never been easy but you did it diligently and professionally. A big thank you to Grace Maguri and Mthandazo Mahlangu for the initial edits of this anthology and to Admire Kudita for the final edit.
Thanks again to OSISA for believing in the space/platform for cultural expression called Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo. Cultural expression is a right that all of us should enjoy whether we are poor or rich, whether we live in capital cities or not, and whether we dwell in rural spaces or cities. As citizens of Zimbabwe, we all have something to say about ourselves, our lives and our country.
This anthology is a celebration of our right to both our freedom to cultural and artistic expression.
To our readers, please enjoy all the stories.