Young African Magazine
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Archive for the ‘Writers Block’ Category

Benjamin Zephaniah on why he hates being the centre of attention!

May 21, 2009

We hear a lot about the lack of black role models. Do you think the black community is in crisis?

The black community has always been in crisis, it’s just at different levels. When I was young we used to have sound-system wars. People got shot. My friend’s ear got cut off and he went and murdered somebody; he was doing a life sentence when he was 14. When I was 15 I was sleeping with a gun underneath my pillow. The white community has always been in crisis as well, but when a white person shoots a white person it’s just a gun crime. When it’s a black person it’s “black on black”. It’s got to be given a name. I know that within the West Indian community we have a kind of crisis with men and their attitudes towards women, attitudes towards other people’s sexuality, even their own sexuality. We’ve got to learn to talk to each other.

What are you most proud of: the novels, the poetry or the campaigning?

What I’m proudest of is waking up one day in a house in Birmingham, having slept that night with a gun under my pillow, and saying, “I don’t want to do that any more.” That changed my life around. I wouldn’t have done any of those novels if I hadn’t done that. Within an hour, I’d left, and I was in a car, on my way to a different life. That’s my greatest achievement, but no one sees that. And just making my mother feel proud of me. Although sometimes she complains that I don’t go and see her enough.


Telling Stories From Africa

May 21, 2009

The story inside “The Silent Army” resembles a family story of abuse: the children are mesmerized by their abuser, the man they call “Daddy,” and are transformed into fanatic followers, obedient killers. “By the end, Abu is ready to put on the shoes of the rebel leader.”

On the shoot, the young actor surprised his director by suggesting a scene in which he takes a gun and fires on families hiding in a church. “I was taken aback at first, but I knew he was right.”

Dambudzo Marechera

May 21, 2009

  Dambudzo Marechera (Zimbabwe, 1952)   Dambudzo Marechera was born in Rusape to a poor family. However, he won scholarships to St Augustine’s Secondary School, to the University of Zimbabwe and to New College, Oxford. He has the distinction of having been expelled from all three. Marechera’s first novel, House of Hunger (1978), won the […]