Title: The Manifesto# An Anthology of Peace
Author: Chenjerai Mhondera
Publisher: Alakowe (Parousia Magazine)
Reviewer: Olubola Alamu
The Manifesto# is an eclectic volume by Chenjerai Mhondera, Zimbabwean poet, playwright and comedian. In this anthology, Mhondera has written many verses that address several aspects of personal and societal life. The collection is also eclectic in that some of the poems (in Chapter 10, “For the Beauty of Languages of Universe”) are written in a Zimbabwean language, and some parts of the book are more prose than poetry.
Building up from the first chapter, in which he discusses poverty and death, Mhondera gradually gathers momentum to touch on issues that concern larger units of the society and the world at large.
His style is firm, almost tangy; his pen making sharp dissections of what he considers societal ills and calling for positive change.
Chapter 2 opens with Mhondera calling for sympathy and support for Africa. He says,
“Sometimes we need to give Africa solutions.
Sometimes we need to rid her illusions.
Sometimes we need to Merrymake and celebrate Africa.
Sometimes we need to spend time with Africa!
Sometimes we need to empathise and sympathise with Africa…”
He also denounces racism and exploitation of Africa by Western countries. “Beloved Humanity” is a combination of prose and poetry, and in it, Mhondera decries racism. He says,
“Who is not Black?
The brown are Black
The purple are Black
The pink are Black
The white are Black
The yellow are Black
The coloured are Black
The grey are Black.”
This verse is a reflection of Mhondera’s belief in the oneness of all humanity, for in his words, “Black is a colour of all humanity”.
In the poem “Of Africa & Her Tyrants”, he addresses some of Africa’s internal problems such as corrupt leadership, tribalism and disunity. He asks,
“Why defeat own legends?
Why genociding own mass?
Why carry manuals of war, and not of peace?
Why called by titles of war?”
Chapter 9 is Mhondera’s personal admonition to the writer, in which he encourages writing not for the sake of showcasing finesse but to liberate “the world shut up” in the writer and to effect positive changes in societal life.
Mhondera eventually put his pen to rest after addressing the Commonwealth of Nations. In his opinion, we do not yet have a Commonwealth of Nations. The poem, and the book, end with these lines:
“This is commonwealth
That the commoner finance the programmes of the rich.
This is commonwealth
That in that pool of funds, only the rich dip hands,
The poor, denied access.
This is commonwealth;
That we have no common wealth.”
Olubola Alamu is an advocate of edification through words. She believes that people eventually become what they read, and nothing short of edifying and flawless writing is worth presenting to a reading audience.
She has several skills in her repertoire, but her all-time favourites are editing (of both academic and nonacademic writing), reviewing books, and developing manuscripts. She also archives her thoughts at thamarshaven.wordpress.com . She is the Editor-in-Chief at Editfy Publishing, and she lives in Osogbo, Nigeria.