By Virginia Phiri
I wanted to share information that would teach people something and entertain at the same time. I come from a strong family of oral story tellers in history and folk tales on my maternal side. This story telling has since died down because most of the elders in my family have passed on.
I decided to tell stories in a different way, I wanted to do that with paper and pen. I felt that writing it down would go beyond my life time and still benefit generations to come. I already knew what I wanted to write. I chose issues that would make a difference in peoples lives. At that time I only had fiction in mind. That soon changed when I was one of the women commissioned by UNICEF to write non-fiction school readers in 1994 and when I became an African Orchid expert in 1996.
Being a member of Zimbabwe Women Writers in 1990 helped me get writing skills through workshops, since Zimbabwe has no writing schools. Established female writers like Barbra Nkala, Chiedza Musengezi and Norma Kitson played a major role in moulding me into a writer. I still appreciate their help and patience.
My wishes became true. I am happy that since I started writing, I have made some contribution in the areas of education, research and social circles. Examples of some of my works are Desperate a book about causes of prostitution in third world countries which was published in 2002. The book became a prescribed text at the University of Zimbabwe in 2004. Again in 2006 it became a prescribed text at Hillside Teachers College in Bulawayo. This book has also become useful in African studies at some universities in the United States of America. It is also widely read in Africa, Europe and the Americas as the topic is universal.
In 2006 my book Destiny which is about the plight of those born as hermaphrodites was published. The book was well received as there are very few books that touch on that topic which is also universal. The book is very useful in education, research and social circles. At the moment it seems the book has had a new dimension since the issue of Caster Simenya the South African athlete gold medalist who has been found to be a hermaphrodite. There was a book review in The Herald of 28 September 2009 which had the cover of Destiny and a photo of Caster Simenya connecting the two together. I am happy that this book has brought the plight of hermaphrodites more to light. There is appreciation for the book than before.
Since 1995 to date I have contributed to at least a dozen Zimbabwe Women Writers fiction and non-fiction anthologies which are in Ndebele, Shona and English. Most of these anthologies have found their way into education and research institutions. My contributions in these anthologies are of issues that affect women and girls in the areas of health, inheritance, education, legal and social rights, poverty and crime.
Since I am now semi-retired in accountancy, I have enough time to write and attend book fairs, literary conferences and seminars. My next book Highway Queen is at an advanced stage, it should be published before mid 2010.
- A Meeting with Virginia Phiri, Zimbabwe, so you want to be a writer, March 3, 2006
- Virginia Phiri, The Nordic Africa Institute, August 11, 2003