Creative Writing Starts Here for Panashe Chigumadzi
Panashe Chigumadzi is a young writer, passionate about Africa and creating a unified vision and movement for the continent’s so-called ‘Cheetah Generation’. She is inspired by untold African stories and is agitated by the lack of African narratives that do not veer into ‘poverty porn’. Thus she seeks to remedy this through her literary work, which can best be described as ‘anecdotal anthropology’. She is a Zimbabwean, born in 1991 and living in South Africa for most of her twenty-one years. She is currently an accounting student by day. Here is a taste of some fictional writing from Panashe… though if you read thoroughly you will observe some fact in the fiction…. Enjoy!
V. For Virtuoso
By Panashe Chigumadzi
Doors open @18h00. Vuyo clutches the pamphlet. Quarter-to-six. Her choirmaster had always taught her to respect time.
Her walk turns into a run. She grips her second-hand Fender Stratocaster. The one she doggedly practiced on until her picks broke. The men on the corner whistle. She returns the wolf-whistle to the men who used to make her nervous.
R.O.A.R no cameras allowed. Perfect. Baba did not need to see this blazoning the
papers just yet.
Contribution 30 bucks.
A fourth-year classical music major. It was in her second year that Vuyo found her epiphany. It began with musical inspiration from Baba’s esoteric vinyl collection. Not enough of it downloadable, she ventured to find a cultural booty hidden downtown Joburg. “African” street vendors hawking a myriad of recordings: mbaqanga; soukous; high life; synthesizer Afro-pop; rhumba.
“Mm-mama V,” she says breathlessly.
“Mama P” The doorman leans forward, unable to hear over the drumming on stage.
“No. V. For Virtuoso.” He thrusts a ticket into her hand. He slaps her ass. Indignant, she proceeds through the eccentric and eclectic turnout to the front of the dimly lit, smoke-filled matchbox Newtown venue.
“Calling Mama V!”
Vuyo steps onto the stage. Her hands sweat around the curves of her Fender. She avoids the noisy crowd’s gaze as she bends to plug her Stratocaster into her ‘wah-wah’ pedal. Her Mobutu Sese-Seko style leopardskin cap falls off. Replacing it, she’s relieved: her box cut means no hair is out of place.
Drawing in breath, she begins to pick the opening riff. Pushing the pedal with her vertiginous heel, the sound reverberates through the room and through her Amazonian body, mimicking the crying tone of a muted trumpet. The murmurs abate, as crowd members recognize the chords of Hendrix’ Voodoo Child.
She begins a breathy contra-alto incantation in the style of the Kidjo-cover into the mic. She closes her eyes, and begins a wail, one that has long since replaced her celestial soprano. Her drawn out syllables juxtaposed against the funk-rhythm of the chord simultaneously perplex and arouse the crowd. She feels the crowd become increasingly drawn into her voice and sings more forcefully into the mic.
She then scales back her voice to make way for the guitar solo. The crowd members become her acolytes clapping and tapping to the relentless ‘wacka-wacka’ funk-rhythm of their high priestess’s middle riff. The skillful wizardry of her guitar-work to them a necromantic gift.
She abruptly stops the rhythm. Flickering lights dance around her face as sweat beads dot her ebony forehead. She surveys the audience, gazing squarely into their eyes to gauge their attention. Satisfied, she resumes their hypnosis with the re-emergence of her stentorian voice. With the audience in firm grip, she sings the last
note: a full, deep, prolonged appeal to the heavens.
The heady culmination of the set leaves her gasping for air. A whistle pierces through the rapturous applause and pulls her back to stage. The realization that her mother’s treasured gold clip-ons are lost quickly sobers her.
Heart beating, palm to forehead, she resigns herself to her weekday curfew. She hastily makes her way outside with her guitar and pedal in hand. She clumsily pulls track suit pants over her tights. One hand hails a taxi, the other fastens a dhuku around her head.
The driver nods with impatience not unlike Baba’s. As she slips on to the front-seat she hopes there will be cameras next time.
Find her musings on her blog M’sika: www.msikatheblog.tumblr.com