What is Reading Zimbabwe?
In the summer of 2016 we started putting together the first digital archive of writings on Zimbabwe — readingzimbabwe.com. Initially, the simple idea was to amass as much references as we could but the data started revealing a deep intricate web. Much of what is written and published about Zimbabwe, happens not in the country itself, but from other places. Not only that, the material is scattered, and in many cases, have been long out of print or simply just do not circulate in Zimbabwe.
For us, Reading Zimbabwe has grown to become more than just an archive or database — but a platform, a library, a community. We are interested in the evolution of histories and the emerging new narratives around Zimbabwe — the idea, the imaginary, the place, the people. In order to think about and represent Zimbabwe differently, we need, not only a new set of questions, new practices and methodologies that allow us to harness the inventiveness and generative resilience of the people.
What is at stake?
Zimbabwe was once at the vanguard of African Literature but diminished publishing opportunities, lack of effective local networks for writers and critics and the absence of general infrastructure such as bookshops to promote literature have had major consequences. As such, it was important to establish Reading Zimbabwe as a platform that networks writers and intellectuals with their communities and reading publics. We seek to encourage and give strength to Zimbabwean literatures in their inspired diversity. Beyond Zimbabwe, we anticipate to be part of a thriving global literary movement and to contribute to the preservation of our rich African literary values and heritage.
Why is this important?
Reading Zimbabwe makes a complex and urgent intervention. Supporting our campaign funds a whole generation’s access to knowledge about themselves and the world. Zimbabwe's 'born free' generation has been systematically disenfranchised from their own histories. Reading Zimbabwe combines the creative processes of two dynamic Zimbabwean creatives - Tinashe Mushakavanhu and Nontsikelelo Mutiti. The initial work on Reading Zimbabwe has been largely self-funded as this work was too important to wait but with your support it can be an even more dynamic platform.
The People's Library
With intermittent power cuts and expensive internet, it became clear for us that connectivity and access will be an issue for many young Zimbabweans to enjoy access to our online platform. We plan to open a brick 'n mortar space, a People's Library in Harare.
One of our goals is to collect and to continue accumulating the books documented on readingzimbabwe.com, growing them into a physical repository. The People's Library extends our work by providing space for workshops, lectures, readings, concerts, exhibitions and other celebrations hosted by our local communities.
Meet the team
Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Tinashe Mushakavanhu combined their skills to build Reading Zimbabwe. Mutiti is a visual artist and assistant professor in graphic design at Virginia Commonwealth University. Mushakavanhu is a writer and editor and read for a PhD in English from the University of Kent. Since 2015, they have collaborated in experimental publishing as Black Chalk and Co. Their work has featured at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) Pop Rally TEN, Detroit Art Book Fair, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) - University of Pennyslvania and Keleketla! Library.
Why this matters to us?
This project is a labor of love - love for stories and books, love for knowledge and creativity, love for education, love for self and country. Supporting us nurtures these loves. The money from this campaign will fund the following initiatives:
– Continued research and development of readingzimbabwe.com
– Development of our current online platform to include even more dynamic tools and experiences allowing for different levels of engagement with the content archived on our site.
– Production of a series of special publications working to surface the Zimbabwean authors.
– Beginning to purchase publications towards our People's Library initiative.
Risks and challenges
As you may know with Kickstarter, this campaign is all or nothing if we don’t hit our goal. This is a risk we are willing to take because we trust that as part of our community you support our work and ready to help us take it to the next level. We also value the fact that Kickstarter allows a very diverse range of people to get involved in the process of building something like Reading Zimbabwe. It is exciting and inspiring to have an opportunity to engage people from all walks of life in the archiving and documenting of Zimbabwe. In the case that you are not able to pledge money towards the project, there is still a way in which you can still support us - by sharing this campaign with your networks or those with the means to so.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)