Togara Muzanenhamo gives new meaning to forgotten histories in Virga
In this collection, Muzanenhamo freezes moments in history over and over again, takes us back to them, turns them into beautiful, sometimes haunting, memories, and then sends both us and these moments hurtling off into a new future together.
This is only possible because the moments that Muzanenhamo chooses are moments that popular history deems unimportant. Examples are the historic expedition of the Japanese polar exploring ship, Kainan Maru (circa 1912), the 1921 World Chess Championship match between Emanuel Lasker and José Raúl Capablanca, the 1986 Lake Nyos disaster in Cameroon which led to the death of 1,746 people, and closer home, in Zimbabwe, the strange occurrence when 60 Ruwa schoolchildren said they had seen a UFO and ‘aliens with big eyes.’
Muzanenhamo digs into these events with the accuracy of a keen researcher and the fluidity of an artistic hand and puts them on a new dias as landmarks of history, and poetry. As if he was there. As if he knows some important details about these events that the world has overlooked. As if he wants us to hold them up to a new light of significance.
It was great to hear him explain all these things because it suddenly all made sense.
The discussion that followed, moderated by another Zimbabwean poet, Tsitsi Jaji, was insightful and opened us up to a little bit of the world of this poet who usually keeps his silence and lets his verse speak for him.
Virga, I just learned, is rain that doesn’t reach the earth.