By Khumbulani Muleya
Sensational afro jazz artist Hope Masike launched her second poetry book collection titled Dzevabvazera last Friday at Theatre in the Park in Harare just in time to give lovers the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.
The poems are sizzling hot and deeply sensual, which celebrate the art of lovemaking and creatively interrogates love and sexuality in an environment of complete creative freedom. It also explores the healing and liberating power of love in its sensual and spiritual manifestations.
The launch was fused with a live music concert and book reading and also featured as guest performer, veteran township jazz crooner Tanga wekwa Sando, and a poetry recital by Fadzai Katanda.
The book has 14 steamy poems written in Shona with a brief overview in English which Masike recited accompanied by mbira music fused with the rattling sound of the hosho (shakers) and contemporary musical instruments comprising a set of alto and soprano saxophones.
Nominated for the Kora All-Africa Music Awards in 2016, Masike looked stunning in hoop earrings, a tight fitting décolleté outfit that had a design of the iconic fertility symbol, the chevron motif, flowing down from her waist to the hem of her dark red dress.
Sex and sexual education is largely taboo in Zimbabwe and by launching the book, Masike has set the pace for discussion since sexual topics are rarely addressed in the public realm. Writing erotica as a genre is equally perceived as risky yet historically erotic poetry has a very long tradition and is renowned in African cosmology and just like a lot of our customs, it is one of those values that is gradually disappearing.
Story teller and author of Chibarabada, Tinashe Muchuri, said Dzevabvazera is a “reprimand giving hope in fighting the challenges that ruin happiness between lovers. The feared things have found a bold writer who has named them succinctly with depth as we relax and laugh while healing some of the challenges found in love”.
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On why she chose erotic expressions in her second book, Masike said: “I wanted something different; I wanted to capture a theme that is not often spoken of. The book was born out of inspiration from a book that I was given by my friend the late jazz musician, Friday Mbirimi, titled How to Write Erotica, a book that I got deeply immersed in during the pandemic.”
Through music, lyric and metaphors Masike and her band took the crowd on an enticing and tantalising initiation into the riches and beauty of this venerable poetic tradition as she paired her outstanding vocals with experimental literature themed around sexual knowledge, evoking vivid sexual imagery giving fans who braved the rain an opportunity to ponder on how joyful and gratifying sex can and should be.
Tanga wekwa Sando, who is also celebrated in one of the poems titled KwaTanga wekwaSando, which depicts two lovers on an outing, was guest musician at the launch. He played his yesteryear songs such as Mahobho, Nyenyedzi and Wake which the crowd sang along.