Interviewing Lenni Mdawini Sibanda


ZtBh# Who is Lenni Mdawini Sibanda?
Some call me a dreamer , in a distasteful manner… (But I brought ZtorieBhuku to the world)
But the 2 most important women (my wife and mother) in my life call me a storyteller , my mother says I have always been an entertaining story teller even I was still very young . MaSiziba (my mother) has memories about my passion , and I love mentioning one . Well she has a funny story about my storytelling , there was a certain man who was friends with my grandfather who used to visit us weekend evenings .I might not remember his face but I remember his clothes some safari suits especially an olive green one ,and always carrying a brown beer bottle in one hand. He would find my whole family in, father , mother ,and my two siblings, but his main purpose of visit was me. Yes , 2 year old me would start tales , they say I could tell a story for thirty minutes . My mother says the stories were interesting full of lies and creativity un-expected of a toddler .Man , did I enthrall the man and he would leave me some sweets after hearing my “toddler tales”.
On the other hand my wife ,MaKhumalo says I got her using my stories and I still keep her using my stories.
I am in my mid twenties and I love storytelling be it in film , theatre or my favourite creative prose. I am involved in all 3

ZtBh# Tell us about your childhood , teenage years did they have an effect on what you write?
I grew up in Pumula East township , a high density neighborhood in Bulawayo , Zimbabwe with every kind of personality you can imagine. My parents provided me with the best life , good schools , good food and the TV.But the township also provided me with something , as all township kids know, as kids we were a motley mixture of different tribes, different social statuses all mixed,we learnt how to fight , learnt how to be stingy (helped me out later in my life, with the gold digger type Girls ) , learnt a lot of wrong things about life ( by following teenage couples to the rocky bushy area close to the neighbourhood) but the most important thing I learnt in the township was how to imagine and tell stories (to get the respect and fear , occasionally to hide from painful realities)
So my writing is full of reality ,

ZtBh# Did you have intentions of ever being a writer or do you have a specific reason for writing these short stories?
I began writing seriously when I was in Form 3 , secondary school… but it was mostly poor poetry and pathetic short stories . I was seen as a fool when I requested to be moved from the Form 3 class taking Accounting , to the English Literature class .My classmates asked me how I could move from the money to the poorman’s corner. But they couldn’t understand that I had read the complete works of Shakespeare and was halfway through the African writer’s section of our big Pumula library by age 15
I had an intention to become an author , I wanted to be like Charles Mungoshi, to get people feeling the way I felt after I read “Coming of the Dry season”

ZtBh# How was Ztorie Bhuku formed and why?
I was tired of waiting for some one to discover me and my work , tired of sending my manuscript to some money hungry Zimbabwean publishers who ignored creative writing favouring school textbooks. So I met up with Leroy Mthulisi Ndlovu , and we decided to get our stories to the people by all means possible. So Ztorie Bhuku was formed and we are trying hard to give an opportunity to young writers like us. You see we believe , written stories ,must be read.
We self publish in Zimbabwe …. We are also penetrating the international market.
Special mention to Philani Amadeus Nyoni ,he has been there from day 1 ,offering us guidance and helping us We are a #Rule_Breaking_Generation.

ZtBh# Can you tell us about writers or novels that inspire your literature ?
SembeneOusmane , his experimental work with fusing prose and screenplay writing greatly inspired me .. Charles Mungoshi’s , vivid descriptions of real life situations got me , yeah they got me imagining the Mbare life. Modern Chris Mlalazi , really pushes the township stories
Ndebele Literature writers like MayfordSibanda , N.S. Sigogo wrote the best novels in a unique style that cannot be equaled by any…. English writer
Well for novels , I have one “Sukuzukuduma” the Ndebele fantasy novel really inspires my writing.. the brilliant plot ,themes and real life characters living in a fantasy land,make it the best prose I have ever read. Infact I dream of it becoming an animated movie ,that would blow the world away.

ZtBh# How best can you describe your work?
I write African thriller stories ,

ZtBh# Are the names of your characters in your stories important?
No .they are not . In real life no one lives to their name some people have angel’s names but they act like the devil.

ZtBh# What about titles of your work?
Now that is important ,they tell you more about me.

ZtBh# What’s more important characters or plot?
To me it’s the plot , characters act according to the situations … so a well laid plot brings out the character’s character.

ZtBh# How do you react to bad reviews of your work?
It’s like someone telling me my child is ugly , but it’s still my child … so I keep quiet. But on the other hand if you are recommending some make up to pretty up my child then we can talk.

ZtBh# Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
Yes , you lose your social life…

ZtBh# Are there any Zimbabwean or African writers that have grasped your interest?
Yes , everyone I work with at ZtorieBhuku , those are brave souls … for Africa I can say Kenyan writers have the flair that I love ….

ZtBh# Are you interested in anything that is not literature?
Filmmaking is my other passion , and I have a film company I am running with other Dreamers , I,write and direct there , cause I want my vision to come out the way I imagined it. Collabo Films ( Byo)

ZtBh# What are your current projects?
With the help of Philani Amadeus Nyoni and Leroy MthulisiNdlovu , I am working on my debut novel a complete story based on “Death on Wheels” my short story published here on ZtorieBhuku. This has the potential to be adapted to a movie via Collabo Films (Byo)
Adaptation of the ZtorieBhuku , anthology to a film..

ZtBh# Do you have anything specific that you would like to share with your readers?
People who read my work deserve my respect because they encourage me to write more . Without them I wouldn’t be able to stare at a blank screen everynight trying to fill it with words. Thank you.


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