This week news reached Zimbabwe Digital News that VaChikepe_the Poet and Publisher had released to the market his first ever book – Mental Gymnastics. It is a journey that has taken him 14 years to get here.
Our Harare Business and Arts columnist Brian Manyathi caught up with VaChikepe, the man who also doubles up as the Captain of the 100 Sailors – a poetry, music and art group.
This is what transpired during the exclusive interview.
1. Briefly who are you? Ndimi ani chaiko?
My name is Takudzwa Chikepe, famously known as VaChikepe: The Poet. I am becoming the definition of Poetry in Zimbabwe and from Africa.
2. This your first book published as a Poet and Artist?
Yes! Mental Gymnastics – is my very first book in my whole life, so far.
3. Your mission, and your vision for the 100 Sailors. ?
This group is about the spiritual manifestation of art in its natural form. The vision of the group is grooming world class artists through appreciating poetry and other forms of art. The mission is summarised as fully publishing and promoting art, and selves in this global village.
4. What inspired the title “Mental Gymnastics”?
Our Spirits and emotions from the heart are very difficult to understand. But the mind appears to be friendly, flexible and loyal unless disturbed. Hence, mental investment is a precious treasure in our lives. The more we think more is the more we keep on trying and the more we can also provide solutions through our different circumstances.
5. What does the release of your new anthology mean for the 100 Sailors?
Art is artistic. Our journeys are different. Poetry is the universal language; and sometimes after you cross the bridge, is when you start to fully understand yourself and identity.
6. What is on your mind VaChikepe for yourself, the 100 Sailors, and every other artist looking up to you?
Sometimes, I feel like I am an undiscovered energy, hence I shall work hard to discover myself. For the 100 Sailors, the table is set feast to your delight and remember to inspire and groom all around you. Art is all we have and let us enjoy being ourselves.
The way God created us is very interesting! The best way we can try to understand it is through full use of the time we have and making sense of all opportunities and blessings along our ways.
7. With your book already available online, have you any plans to print physical copies for launch and distribution locally?
Yes! At some point the book will be printed, launched and distributed locally, I believe. Sometimes people need to look for something they want, than to be given something they don’t like. Not sure about the other launches of this book. My first launch of this book might be at our local Church – Methodist Church In Zimbabwe (Katanga) with the youth and the Church at large.
8. You mentioned it has taken you 14 years to be book published. Were you hesitant or it is about caution?
I guess, this was the written time that my first book would be published and I also believe it is very important in the life of an artist to link up with the right people at the right time. This motivates and expands the artists territory wider and wider than the opposite. In the opposite many give up along the way due to a biased reality and life of an artist is not easy after all.
9. May you give an avid follower and reader clues of what they can expect to find in Mental Gymnastics?
In the book and through Poetry, I have explained the importance of a vision in life, of having an extraordinary understanding of life and the power of ignorance amongst other themes. Like Garcia Marquez of 100 years of Solitude, I think I have lived through many generations in my mind and beyond; and I have passed through many different social fabrics. Hence, I have got a lot to share with the world.
10a. How has your Sailors group’s participation contributed to your successful writing of this anthology? How did that Sailors group start anyway?
The Sailors love my work and I think for the 4 years we have shared together to date they now relate to my art and their feedback is very inspirational and real. In 2018, my phone, laptop and everything got stolen and the Sailors through their love tried by all means to send me everything I had posted in the group.
I created the Sailors group on the 17th of September 2016, then gradually started adding my fans, friends, family, artists I admire and then all other artists. Now the group has more than 200 powerful artists ready to blossom to fruition. The 100 Sailors: They shall create groups like mine and beyond, they shall become captains in the art industry and live to tell how they came to be! We just think everyday and now we used to it.
11. Importance of a vision and extraordinary understanding of life, what did you mean there?
If you are not a visionary, you automatically become the right candidate of being a victim of anything. Life is too complicated, but when you are also a complicated specie you stand a chance to understand the reality of life.
12. What societal differences and complexities come from being a Poet? How did your book touch on this subject?
When you are a poet be prepared to be in the business of sometimes forgetting who you are! A gap between you and the society is created and you need to learn to quickly understand how to cross from one end to another at any given time and naturally until it becomes your normal lifestyle. My book teachs about the importance of the mind and the flexibility of it. Mastering this art, will enable us to easily have solutions to our problems.
13. Who else do you want to give applause to besides the 100 Sailors of course, for the journey to publishing your first book?
My special gratitude goes to Dr Terrence Brayboy for being a friend and supporting me as an artist from 2012 to date, Caroline Brae for being a friend and my Publisher and Talula Merriwether Mays for the amazing book cover and illustrations. Stan Galloway, Nicole Yurcaba (Bridgewater College), Overseer J Chikepe (father), Dr Shingi (mother), Rev A. Makiwa (MCZ) and Aminas Gift for their faith, support and love.
14. Any special words to the reader and the Poets out there?
The world of Poetry is bigger than our imagination. Believe in this gift and its power, definitely one day you will enjoy your strategic role in full play. To the Zimbabwean poets, let us join hands according to our vibrations and fully vibrate! And whenever you see a school, remember that these are children waiting to be taught Poetry by you! In Poetry_indeed our future will never be the same. Thank you.
15. You are welcome, but before you go, where can interested followers and readers reach out to you?
They can app or call me on these numbers: +263772488777, or +19192591773. Send mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and vachikepe.blogspot.com.
Also visit our new YouTube channel and here is a link to view my documentary, https://youtu.be/-6Krv3B2BFU.
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