- East Africa
By FREDDY MACHA
You have probably stumbled on her poetry on Informer East Africa Newspaper. Missed? Never mind! Perhaps, you heard about Mwana, her new collection? Mwana is creating excitement across online forums. Or you might know Tanzanite Events, a Zoom happening that banged our doors throughout the Covid 19 lockdowns and is still inspiring African greens. So, you haven’t heard all of that.
What about the esteemed Shaaban Robert? Most well-known Swahili writer, considered the William Shakespeare of our region? You haven’t heard of Shaaban Robert either? But we are aware that Ki-Swahili is targeting becoming the lingo for black people across the universe by 2063, right? Anything transporting the Swahili tag means serious business, or as we say in Fursa.
Fursa means “opportunity...” Entrepreneurs recognise that word like how we notice spider’s webs on the corners of our rooms. Jackline Waziri was born 1993 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Aged seven, she made her way to London, as both parents had, sadly. passed on. Subsequently, the bright girl was raised by her loving maternal, energetic aunties in this third largest city of Europe.
No wonder Jackline Waziri, has not disappointed and is also energetic, positive, innovative; it is in her genes …Look. During his times, around 75 years ago, the legendary Shaaban Robert was an active media personality with a regular column ( in the 1940s East African Mambo Leo, newspaper) and it is natural his descendants are as inventive.
In October 2020 Ms Waziri, launched Tanzanite Events. The Zoom forum, showcases everything Tanzanian through artists, hard-working entrepreneurs and other uniquely driven individuals. Like Kenya in the Park- annual function, run by dancer Lydia Olet, “Tanzanite Events” sometimes spreads wings by inviting non-Tanzanians in the spirit of like-mindedness.
For example, in February 2021, the theme of the monthly gig was Friends of Tanzania. March 2021, Tanzanite Events brought international women to task. Jackline Wazir's debut book, “Mwana”, is gentle, persuasive and, passionately written verse which she summarises as being : “ Inspired by my beautiful daughter so that she knows she has a voice in this world.
Just like many young girls and boys that look like her, Mwana means child, in various African languages including Swahili (grammatically and structurally a Bantu speaking idiom).
On page 21 is “Tanzanite”:
My earth skin till six feet under
for you hold light of Birth
My dear “melanin” so ancient
stained by grace
diverse shades of complexion
I treasure you dear, my
Body of Kingdom civilisation...”
Consistently aware of her identity and roots, the most poignant piece was the brutal killing of George Floyd- June 2020.
“A worthy breath blown away
Ugly truth haunts
the nations spirit, chocked.
But the sound of the heartbeat
of every “ I cant breathe.”
Sons of the sun, its time to rise again.
Jackline invested her own hard earned cash into this self-published opus , coming out with a thousand copies. In almost a year, she has sold half of them.
And here we have to speak about self-publishing. Many young authors are now doing their own thing. Back in the 1970s, and 80s it was a bit rare. I recall when I self-published my English- German poems, (Papers! Papers! Papers!, 1986) , I did it so I could sell the work in my music concerts. This is because I always use music to recite my spoken word. Back then we relied on bookshops. It wasn't easy.
Nowadays, the internet is limitless. You can publicise your work via social media, speak about it, or collaborate with Amazon, whose distribution is a multi-billion industry and quite efficient. Jackline Waziri is using her times and surroundings well. Easy? Hard?
Ms Waziri : “I am just having fun with the moment (becoming an author)I tend not to think of the struggle of the process at the moment...I just care about my story being out there and being heard.”
Did she inherit, the gift of literary arts from her maternal grandfather? Jackline confesses she was not aware of this at the beginning. Growing in Tanzania then London she might not have known her great great Babu. Ironically not much of the esteemed icon has been translated into English (or other languages)...the most well-known of Shaaban Robert's verse : Titi la Mama Litamu Hata Likiwa la Mbwa (One mother's tongue is the best) which eulogises Kiswahili, comes to mind.
However, Jackline found effortlessly expressing herself through writing. From then on there were no brakes. Ms Jackline Waziri's motor-engine has been scorching, ever since, sizzling through traffic, jumping red , yellow , blue , lilac , purple lights and creating whole fresh, artistic planets. Hail Jackline Waziri, an inspiration for optimistic, glowing African renaissance!
More info, and to order a copy of Mwana, please visit www.jacklinewaziri.com/
Freddy Macha is a London based Tanzanian writer and musician.