Spotlight: Poet Mjabulisi, The twenty-three-year-old craftsman
Mjabulisi (born Zwelithini Dlamini) is a versatile poet, spoken word artist, artist, author, and emcee who is based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. The twenty-three-year-old craftsman describes himself as jovial and of sober habits.
“I cannot pinpoint exactly what led to poetry rather a number of factors directed me to poetry, the inspiration I got from my school Luveve High. I was attracted to Meliwenkosi, Nqobizwe Malinga and Brenda. Star Bright inspired me, Bekumuzi Luthuli songs inspired me, growing up I used to love poetry unknowingly that it was within me.”
His poetry is in Ndebele and English.
He has performed on stages across Zimbabwe including Harare, Beitbridge, Victoria Falls and his native Bulawayo. He even showcased his words for Zimbabwe’s first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa. In 2022 he published the poetry collection ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and ‘Ithendele Elihlehe Likhala Ligijma’ (loosely translated to ‘A Smart guineafowl is one that cries out as it is running’) both works have been co-authored with Portia Tshuma. Explaining why he collaborates for his writing he responded, “We get to share ideas together. Four eyes are better than two.” The young performer is often donning traditional Ndebele wear and face paintings for his performances, a nod to his love for his culture and heritage.
Mjabulisi has also released a poetry album titled ‘Sisempini’. The record also features poets such as Thaluso Da Poet and Siphithi Phiti.
Mjabulisi has bemoaned the various challenges that artist within Zimbabwe face including lack of funding and limited growth opportunities and said intervention from both private and public sectors can help to tackle this issue while also increasing arts education in the country.
“I wish to change people’s lives through poetry by comforting the heartbroken, by giving hope to the hopeless, by informing the lost, by sharing love through poetry. I was born to explore the world through poetry; so be it.”