In the year that I came to Middlesbrough, I joined Writers' Block North East, an organisation for and by creatives. The first result of that association was my taking part in my first theatrical performance in the United Kingdom: Boro Bites, sponsored in part by Middlesbrough Council. I got a role in a short play by compatriot, Dictator Maphosa, which was peformed on the 18th of September 2010. It is a date I will never forget, for just as I was about to go on, I got a text from my brother Chris to say that my sister-in-law was in labour. She gave birth to my niece, Chloe.
However, it was only in the next year, 2011, that I decided to become a full time writer and performing artiste. I look back on that year as the one where I learnt some really profound lessons- such as never do any work without payment upfront, especially when dealing with fly-by-night types. 2011 was the year that I also published MunaHacha Maive Nei?The novel was to go down in history as the first ever definitive science-fiction work in the ChiShona language. It was also the first novel in ChiShona to appear as an ebook first before going to print. For this, I earned the Zimbabwe Music & Arts Award (ZIMAA) Writer of the Year and short-listed for the Book of the Year.
Since then, I have continued to grow, penning works that have appeared in places as far afield as the United States, Jamaica, Norway, South Africa, Zimbabwe etc, building a reputation as a writer of the fantastic and the scary, with underlying poignant themes. "The Rasta Hemmingway," a review dubbed me. I have appeared on stage with the Arc Performers Group, putting on sketches at the Arc Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees. On screen, I have been a supporting actor for productions such as Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands, the biggest British television series to date, playing a Vani warrior, and the movie, I, Daniel Blake. I have appeared in music videos by a number of emergent artistes. Not bad for someone who was advised to change his name in order to get ahead in the UK!
Outside of the creative industries, I am involved in various community affairs. I am a member of Hands on Middlesbrough, which advocates for the preservation of the town's open spaces and historic buildings in the face of new construction projects. It was this abiding interest in Middlesbrough's open spaces, which remind me so much of those I played in as a child in Harare and other places that inspired the short story, When The Trees Were Enchanted. I am also a member of NECFARR, which advocates for asylum-seekers and refugees in the North East. In fact, because of my articulation of issues around immigration, asylum-seekers and refugees, philanthropist and businessman Andy Preston named me to his Advisory Panel during his candidacy for the Mayor's Office in the last elections (2015). I also advocate for Fairfield Mansion, Bath, which is a sacred site for the Rastafari Faith. I am also a vocal advocate for the State of Israel. Recently, I helped form the African Speculative Fiction Society.
With so much happening at once, I have a very full calendar. Even so, I am of the view that there is more to happen. Watch this space. I am also very mindful of the fact that none of what I have achieved or will achieve would be impossible without the love and support of a lot of people, far too many to mention here. But I want to make special mention to the readers- the people who purchase my titles or ask for them in the public libraries. They are the people whose actions have made a bold decision to go the independent/small press route viable.
"You will enable me to write as I have planned, may our kin and our brothers who will rise up in future take note of the word You have spoken" - My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress: The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Selassie I.
On the River Tees. Looking to the future.
Places of Interest. A visit to Shandy Hall.
On Dracula's trail: a selfie on a boat entering Whitby bay, where the Count landed.
Dramatic: The Arc Performers Group, Arc Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees.