Tawona Sithole is from Zimbabwe, born to a large family with strong traditional roots. The moral values of his ancestral family, Moyo Chirandu, passed down from his elders through oral tradition and music, inspire him.
His work explores less commonly known perspectives in an attempt to balance the sometimes overly negative associations made with Africa, past and present. He has been a deejay in nightclubs, writing hip-hop influenced poetry that he would occasionally perform but started writing poetry more seriously from 2004 when he also started to develop as a performance poet. In 2005 he co-founded ‘Seeds of Thought’ group that aims to promote sharing of cultures through poetry, music, visual art and other forms of expression. His poetry has appeared in publications, exhibitions and postcards in Glasgow and England. He also writes short stories, and dramatic sketches which he perform and directs.
Through the power of oral tradition, my grandparents left me a priceless heritage of life lessons through proverbs, anecdotes, storytelling and song. The elements of this experience (entertainment; thought-provocation; soulful enchantment; love and respect for nature; and exploration of human morality) remain with me today. Oral tradition intimately engages both speaker and listener and this taught me that artistic expression should involve everyone. Using the influences of ancient oral tradition, I have developed a contemporary style of expression, reciting all my poetry from memory. I see creativity as a means of sharing, and building positive self-esteem. In my poetry I often use meditation and humour to challenge stereotypes and misinformation. I draw on my experiences and challenges (such as racism) faced with living in a different culture from my own, trying to link cultures together. I play mbira, a traditional Zimbabwean music instrument. Mbira is a key part of my performances and workshops, both as a separate art and sometimes combined with poetry. I am the director of Seeds of Thought, and my work largely involves the challenge of making poetry and spoken word entertaining to those who wouldn’t normally take interest.
“Homelands” is a short series of readings and associated workshops with poets from foreign countries seeking to make Scotland their home.