I Am a Griot

Zimbabwean poet MBIZO CHIRASHA weaves a rhythmic prose-tale on the biographical details of his birth and childhood – and the genesis of his extraordinary talent


My birth is a metaphor of bullet-traces and the ironic verse of Leninist style-songs for black liberation that reverberated the grey-mist clad red-mountains of home – Zimbabwe.

My birthing was a stitch between the thud of war-time guns and a heave of pungwe jives. Young women of my mother’s age were volunteer maids during the traumatic but zeal-oiled Chimurenga times, cooking and washing for the cadres of liberation. Chimurenga songs sung by these war-ironed peasant mothers and bullet-toughened collaborators in the red-hills of Wedza. These Mother-guerrillas endured the hard throbs of grenades and the thrash of midnight-rains in those village hills alongside bushy male combatants. They learnt the soprano of the gun and the tenor of death.These were heaven-echoing struggle hymns.

On the day of my birth, heavy rains rattled the winter-crusted red-earth. Rivers sobbed with heaven’s tears and sorrows of war. That grueling night, swarms of collaborators were moved from one base to another, my earthly goddess was among those pilgrims of war.  

“Inside the warm meadows of her womb, I danced to both cacophonic and mega-phonic sounds…”

…her heartbeat thrilled my tender ears and her blood-ripples lulled my faint soul to sleep. And somy foetus spirit rode along with waves of echo and beat of verse. Ingenuity.

I am the blessing of the trip, the child of war song and rain. A mystery.

I am a child of song. I was birthed during the exodus.

That rebel’s war was characterized by death, wailing, stampede, bravery, shallow-graves, song and continuous walking. A trailblazing Africa reality show.

My earthly goddess was a dedicated collaborator, volunteer and songstress. She carried freedom in the sacred cave of her womb.

After their strange overnight long walk to freedom base of Mbirashava – rains ceased fire, war-drums paused and their echoes got trapped into the blankets of early day mist. Then came my birth cry they say like an exclamation engraved on the yellow-disc of the smoke-bruised African sun. Claws of dawn caressed the sorrow-soaked red-hills.  My goddess wriggled in a thick volcano of red-clay mud, ochre-red blood and dead grass. Her womb groaned from labor pangs and suddenly the wind was cold. June dared the earth and everything in it. Cold-winds whined ferociously to disobedient flora and delinquent vultures. Winter, fast clicking a pause button to the jungle’s daily festivals. I was born

5 thoughts on “I Am a Griot

  1. Thank you Sophie and the MONK team for publishing this Essay and my poetry . Iam heartily touched . This is a great literary experience for me ,
    Mbizo Chirasha

  2. Truly, you are a griot!!! A most gripping tale of life’s journey. A depth only a participant would know with such fine detail.
    An incredible read, touching and teaching and taunting. Beauty in words with a divine undertone.

  3. Nancy Ndeke thank you greatly for the encouraging words. Iam quite grateful . I want to also thank Sophie Levy Burton and her team at MONK for publishing my essay in this illustrious publication. Together we rise . Aluta Continua!!!

      1. Dear Editor . Iam so glad to . Call me I will reply . Send me I will go . Teach me I will learn . Tell me I will do . Meaning that Iam well ready to work with you . This publication has lifted my soul and greased my brains for better writing . It was a great and positive challenge . Thank you greatly Madam Sophie Levy Burton and your esteemed Team . Together We Rise ,


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