Free At Last

Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho spent eleven of his twenty-seven years of life imprisoned at Kutama Sinthumule Maximum Security Prison in Makhado. During these long captive years his spirit has roamed free as he found solace in his creative juices.

Mukwevho was released last November on parole. When he walked out he had already published his poetry in Timbila Volume 6, which was published in 2008. In one of his honest poems titled something, Mukwevho writes, “waking up/ early in the morning/ rushing to town to sell some carry bags, toothbrushes:/ small business means/ small money/ better off than stealing/ something that leads us to jail”

He is a creative soul who also writes short stories and novels. As if resembling the Biblical Jonah who was swallowed by a fish when he tried to dodge his calling Mukwevho pursued creative writing with UNISA while incarcerated. When he walked out last November a national publishing house had already offered to publish his first novel. The writer couldn’t be kept down as prison walls also failed to suffocate the writer in him.

Eight months after he was freed Mukwevho published his first collection of short stories titled A Traumatic Revenge. The book with the scary yet attractive cover is made up of eleven short stories critiquing society and how it conducts itself in different situations.

Jigsaw in the Sky is a heart-warming story about xenophobia towards Zimbabweans. It objectively enquires why people see the difference in the next instead of the similarity.

The kind of language we Speak tells the story of a student protest that ended with the death of a learner. Mukwevho’s versatility as a writer is explicit on this short story where the narrative is in first person and he successfully takes the role of a woman named Zodwa.

Defeated explores the abuse that some wealthy people subject vagrants when they offer them money to sodomise or even to watch them have sex with their dogs. While the story might raise racial temperatures, it’s the honesty with which the author narrates it that will melt even the coldest heart.

All Mukwevho’s stories have a moral to them. They are all rooted in society. Intriguing that he moves his storylines from town to town and even writes about inventions and innovations of the past ten years. Given that he spent all these years behind the ugly walls of Kutama Sinthumule, Mukwevho’s exceptional storytelling skills come out glaring. Few people would find inspiration in a space designed to break a man’s spirit.

A Traumatic Revenge sold a hundred copies at its Makhado launch a month ago and Mukwevho has indicated that he is willing to tour the country during the month of September to read in libraries and community centres.

Libraries wanting to invite Mukwevho for a reading of his book during September can arrange with his publisher at Timbila Publishing 015 291 2088 – Vonani Bila.

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