Top writers to mentor school children

HARARE - National Institute of Allied Arts (NIAA) director Beverly Abrahams says her organisation plans to organise a writing workshop for teachers and schoolchildren that will be facilitated by five Zimbabwean writers currently attending a Caine Prize Writers Workshop.

Zimbabwean writers Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Bella Matambanadzo, Lawrence Hoba, Philani Nyoni and Byrony Rheam are part of a 2-day writers’ workshop for 13 African writers being held in Zimbabwe under the mentorship of experienced African writers Nii Ayikwei Parkes and Hentietta Rose-Innes.

Abrahams believes the skills the Zimbabwean writers attending the Caine Prize Writers Workshop will acquire should help promote writing among schoolchildren.

“What I am hoping to do is organise a workshop for teachers and children so that they talk about how to write,” said the NIAA director.

“Reading a book is one thing and seeing the face behind the book is another which can provide a great sense of inspiration for the kids.”

Beverly said her organisation is in partnership with the Meikles Foundation in the project meant to help promote writing among school children.

“I am really excited about this opportunity. I run a literary foundation and it has been there for a hundred years but the opportunity for writers to interact with the students has not been there and that is why I am glad to be part of this,” she said.

Abrahams added that it is important for established writers to add onto the writing basics that school children acquire in schools.

“Within the schooling system children are exposed to a more formal way of writing, but I want them to interact with the young writers as they also have their own way of writing. This moving away from traditional ways will help children and probably improve on their motivation.

“We are still planning but we hope to start next term in June or July. We haven’t selected the schools yet but we want to do both public and private schools. We will try to provide assistance to the aspiring writers through these workshops.”

Byrony Rheam, the writer of the internationally popular book 'This September Sun', is excited by the chance to help children develop writing skills.

“Many people have an idea on what to write and that is the starting point of writing. What is needed is a way to go from the starting point,” said the Kadoma-born Rheam.

“I think it is important that people should not be afraid to write. I want people to find their voice and it is good that we can capture their hearts at a young age. That way we can have a better informed generation of young writers.”

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