The philosophy of poetry, according to Zimbabwe’s Takudzwa (Wa)Chikepe

I met Tendayi Gahamadze of MbiraDzeNharira. From 2008-2009 I wrote 200 poems and gave these poems a title ‘Nzarabwe’ (Hungry Zimbabwe). Discovering that Samaita (Gahamadze) is a zebra like me I spent most of my time with him.

 

Zimbabwe Digital News

This week Zimbabwe Digital News met with the irrepressible Takudzwa Chikepe to talk the philosophy of the spoken word, life, arts, poetry and what drives the 100 sailors. This is what he said

“The Philosophy of Poetry” An Interview with VaChikepe: The Poet

 

What is Poetry to you?

Poetry is a deep presentation of the past, present and the future. It involves dreams, visions, emotions, experiences, memory, active senses and good use of a language or languages.

It is usually brewed in any situation or environment, thus explaining it being understood by different types of people.

Poetry pronounced in poverty and instability is rich_enriching and can stand the taste of time.

Therefore, poetry pronounced in peace and prosperity is equivalent to inventions, discoveries and rediscoveries.

How did you become a Poet?

Just like any other gift people are then called for it differently. In my case I would say, my inability to read_aloud Shona language in class at the age of 19 years made people shocked me, made people laugh at me for the first time and triggered me to always try to understand all things I seem not to understand.

In the process of identifying myself and learning to read Shona language; I fell in love with this language, read all the Shona books in the library at my High School (Nyatsime College) until there was nothing more interesting to read then I started writing things that were interesting to me and my imaginations.

These things became poetry until I discovered that the gift of poetry was born in me, then I started to read out my poetry to family, friends, teachers and strangers. Everytime I read them my poetry they were amazed and their amazement always inspired me to write more and more and more.

The name WaChikepe

VaChikepe: The Poet! I gave myself this name. Mentally, I believed that one of these days I am going to be an International Poet and it will be so nice to be traced back with my identity and origin. Although, people have been calling me with my surname Chikepe (boat) as early as 13 years, thus I evolved from being a boat of poetry to Big_Ship of Poetry. To date, this name is now famous more than my birth name and other names; including my High School nickname General Gepling Gepe, which meant I always have a plan whenever I get an opportunity.

Some people find it difficult to pronounce this name, but I think very soon they will master the art within this beautiful name.

Ten years ago did you see yourself today?

Ten years ago, I was deferred from my studies at University of Science and Technology for a full year, because I had failed to pay for my tuition fee. This was the difficult year of 2008, when dollarization was introduced in Zimbabwe.

This period was very difficult, I grew my first dreadlocks, lived in solitude for one year writing poetry and thinking deeply about life.

Lucky enough I had the full support of my family and I met Tendayi Gahamadze of MbiraDzeNharira. From 2008-2009 I wrote 200 poems and gave these poems a title ‘Nzarabwe’ (Hungry Zimbabwe).

Discovering that Samaita (Gahamadze) is a zebra like me I spent most of my time with him.

Samaita, also tried to teach me how to play mbira. I failed because my brains were very inquisitive, although I was left with my own unique way of playing mbira and he remains my ‘Arts Father’.

He taught me Shona practical lessons beyond words and actionbut enriched my pre-vision of the African people and expanded the way I viewed and imagined this world. I always ask myself why he has not been given any big award as yet, although he has spent more than thirty years of his life playing mbira instrument.

Looking at myself, I would say since I am mentored by a Mbira fundi, maybe I will become a Mbira superstar or I will combine mbira with poetry, become a prominent singer or philosopher.

Or just become something else, while writing poetry on the side as a way of expressing what I feel, understand and things revealed to me.

How do you define poetry today?

Poetry is my life. Poetry is my identity. Poetry is my gift. Poetry is my calling and Poetry is the sophistication of my brain capacity.

Eventually I discovered that poetry is a state of mind. An amazing poet in our generation will have an ability to shift people’s mind from one form to another; to make people see the unseen and hear the unheard hence building the audience’s sense of curiosity, education and development.

In this context and through my experience, I have realised that I have mastered not only the art of writing poetry, but the art of poetry.

I founded VaChikepe and The 100 Sailors Whatsapp group in 2016. I gathered all artists I admire, artists that likes my art, all those I saw has potential of writing poetry and all other destiny connectors we met and meet along the way. In this group is where we exchange poetry, music, paintings, sculptures, animation and all forms of art. In addition, I teach poetry to all interested and inspire and discuss poetry with other artists in the group.

We are slowly becoming an arts powerhouse, through the spirit of poetry and art.

Given grace and blessings by the Creator, the art we are creating today will be relavent in 21st and 22nd century and beyond.

So far we have published our first book on Amazon called ‘Don’t Give Up Africa’. And more projects are still boiling in different pots. We shall not wait to be discovered, for we are already discovering ourselves day and night.

On a personal level, I can now sing from poetry, write a story from a poem, write a poem from a dream, turn smallest ideas to biggest poems, combine preaching and poetry (preachetry) and combine poetry and music (musical poetry).

It is not easy to live the life of a poet, Dambudzo Marechera and Shakespeare knew this!

Thus, my special thanks goes to Dr Terrence Brayboy of Amina’s Gift for discovering me as an artist of many talents in 2012, as I was working as a Bookshop Manager at Book Cafe.

Amina’s Gift is an NGO that supports children in Africa by buying shoes, clothes, food and pay school fees through selling beaded wire animals and other crafts.

My special thanks also goes to Professor Stan Galloway of Bridgewater College in Virginia. He discovered me as an outstanding poet from Africa and was invited to Bridgewater International Poetry Festival (BIPF) in May this year and I am looking forward to attend the next year edition as well as I was one of the best 12 poets of the festival out of more than 50 poets from all over the U.S and across.

It is now too difficult to imagine myself without poetry or not in poetry. Everyday I am convinced that I am walking in the right steps towards my destiny, I didn’t see it coming, but I simply thank God for this precious gift of poetry.

 

Given grace and blessings by the Creator, the art we are creating today will be relavent in 21st and 22nd century and beyond.

 

 

To date, this name Wachikepe is now famous more than my birth name and other names; including my High School nickname General Gepling Gepe, which meant I always have a plan whenever I get an opportunity.

 

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