Sauti’s poetry speaks to Africa

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Nei?
By Lazarus Sauti
Published by Royalty Books (2017)
ISBN: 978-0-7974-8141-1

It is refreshing to note that locals have decided to commit pen to paper to celebrate being Zimbabwean.
One such writer who has embarked on this celebration is Lazarus Sauti, who published his first book, Nei?, last year.
The book which has been nominated for the National Arts Merit Awards 2018 in the Outstanding First Creative Published Work category, is a collection of poems.
With many books written in English, it is refreshing that Sauti chose to write the book in his first language, Shona.
The poems touch on various issues affecting daily lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
The poem ‘Simuka’ carries a message for Africans to work towards the development of the continent.
With a developed continent, Sauti writes, Africans would be proud to live on their continent.
“Africa,
‘Zvino vanogumepiko vachizvitiza vako vana?
‘Havo Makotsi papata vakupira kutsvaka hupoteri kuvatorwa.
‘Africa,
‘Simuka uonekere.
‘Mira panzvimbo vana vawane pekubata
‘Simuka uchengetedze nhaka yevana, Africa,” reads part of the poem ‘Simuka’.
The importance of appeasing ancestors is highlighted in the poem ‘Ndepapi pacho’.
With some Africans practising African Traditional Religion, where emphasis is on honouring ancestors, Sauti takes a cue and dedicates a piece to the living dead.
In the poem, Sauti asks for guidance from the ancestors.
The poet raises issues of African religion and the role of ancestors in the lives of indigenes.
It did not take the coming of whites for Africans to realise there was a Higher Power whom they referred to as ‘Musikavanhu’.
Sauti pleads with them to forgive the nation for any wrong doing.
As is the African tradition, climatic changes such as the absence or rains is because ancestors would be unhappy with how the living are (not) taking care of the environment.
As such, Sauti, in his poem, asks those in the spiritual world for forgiveness.
“Tiratidzei gwara tigadzirise
‘Kana iri mhosva tiripe zvedu
‘Mvura ituruke ine mwero, zvirimwa zviite
‘Vanhu vawane upenyu
‘Sora rimere, miti ipfumbire
‘Mhuka neshiri zvirarame,” reads part of the poem ‘Ndepapi Pacho’.
Still on the subject of the environment, Sauti, in the poem ‘Nei?’ stresses the need for people to take care of the environment.
The poet speaks against the cutting down of trees and burning of forests.
The destruction of the environment has contributed to climate change.
He urges people to preserve the environment to ensure future generations benefit from it.
“Unombozvifungawo iwe?
‘Unotozvizivawo here zvaunenge uchiita?
‘Unozvinzwisisa shuwa?
‘Sora, mita zvaunogocha semhandire zvinozviziva
‘Kuti paunozvipisa unopedza upenyu hwevanhu
‘Pese paunozvikanga unokanganisa mweya wekufema,” reads part of the poem ‘Nei?’
The poem ‘Mwanangu Rishoni’ offers advice to the youth.
The young writer speaks on the need to work hard and the determination for one to succeed.
The message is timely.
Government is calling on locals to work for the betterment of the country.
“Rishoni kuva murume kwaye kurongeka,
‘Kumira pazviso zvakanaka, zvinoyemurika
‘Chibwinya sezuva vamwe vaone pauri nzira
‘Akupa damba ndewako Rishoni mwanangu
‘Jira ndakupa mbuva yemberi
‘Zvava kwauri kufuga kana kuwarira,” writes Sauti in the poem ‘Mwanangu Rishoni’.
In the poem ‘Hunhu’, he offers advice on living in harmony with the community.
In the poem, he stresses the need for one to preserve his/her image in order to win favour with people.
The message applies even to the country.
Once a country has the right image, it can attract investors or development partners.
With the country working on addressing issues such as corruption that has tarnished the country’s image, it is hoped this would help market the country.
“Hunhu hwakanaka hune simba
‘Hunodaidza shamwari dzakanaka
‘Nekuunza mufaro muupenyu.
‘Munhu hunhu, hunhu munhu
‘Kuti unzi munhu, pavanhu, kunge une hunhu,” reads part of the poem ‘Hunhu’.
The poem ‘Kakonye’ is about corruption.
Corruption has become one of the topical issues on the local scene with Government putting in place measures to fight it.
Sauti bemoans the damage done by corruption and urges people not to engage in neferious activities.
“Paita kakonye kari kutenderera semweya wetsvina:
‘Kumakambani, kuzvikoro, kukanzuru, muhurumende muzvitendero.
‘Kunyange kuboka rinoona nezvekupedzwa kwekakonye aka.
‘Vana nevazukuru tichavaudzei,
‘Tichavanongedzerei?
‘Zvose zvaundurwa neikaka kakonye.
‘Achauraya kakonye aka, kawisa nyika pasi, ndiani?” reads part of the poem ‘Kakonye’.
With more writings that speak to Africans about their dreams, aspirations and the future, they will be inspired to own their story.
It is their story.
They must tell it.

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