“Batsirai E Chigama is a spoken word poet, a short story writer and a socio-political gender activist”, notes Blessing Musariri. “Gather The Children, her first collection of poems, released in March 2018, is a reflection on Zimbabwe over the last ten years; chronicling stories of displacement, loss and desperation, Chigama's work has been featured in over fifteen anthologies including State of The Nation, (Conversation Paper Press, 2009) and War Against War, (Mensa Press, 2010). In 2014, Chigama was awarded second prize in the Stanza Poetry Festival Digital Slam ahead of eight other contestants chosen from all over the world. Passionate about providing alternative narratives to those featured in mainstream media, and in working with young people, her work has taken her as far from home as Denmark, performing and facilitating creative writing and spoken word workshops in schools.”
Chigama speaks on the printed page in the title poem of her debut collection, which is also available as an ebook:
GATHER THE CHILDREN
(for the victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa)
Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Nigeria
claim your children
not the prodigal sons and daughters
hunting for gold in fields not their own
I mean the ones you exiled, choked with despair
drove across borders with sjamboks of hunger
now they gingerly carry the stripes
even as death surrounds them.
Claim your children Somalia
the ones you gave away
for adoption and forgot to reclaim.
The ones you forced never
to remember home for the pain
you inflicted was too much to bear.
Claim your children Africa, claim them today
in their sorrow, in their loss, amidst the wailing
and burning tyres on flesh, claim them.
You have no time to moan,
no time to sing anti-xenophobic songs.
Gather their whispering souls together
before they are hushed, become soil
in that land where their blood has no value.
Two more poems from the book: LIFE'S CONFESSIONS and DEAR DAD. And a review of the book appears here.
In 2014-15 Batsirai was appointed the Woman Scream International Poetry Festival organiser for Zimbabwe. In 2013, a selection of Chigama's poetry was featured on Poetry International alongside five other Zimbabwe women poets. She also appeared in the Prairie Schooner Winter Issue, Women and The Global Imagination, 2014.
A published short-story writer, she dedicates some of her time to write on the arts and culture in Zimbabwe for the local website Zimbo Jam. Chigama has also become a contributor for POVO Magazine Women's Edition. She says she would like to lend her voice to the women whose voices are silenced the world over.