THE HERALD – 14 October 2010, Page 5
Zimbabwe’s Main Daily Newspaper
Internet: Writers’ new window of expression
By Tendai Manzvanzvike
“I WILL not leave until tomorrow what I can do today.”
This is one of the hundreds of quotable quotes from 37-year-old Zimbabwean former school teacher and entrepreneur, Rabison Shumba who was recently awarded a certificate of achievement in the “100 Articles in 100 Days Marathon Challenge (#HAHD)”.
The marathon ran from May 1 to August 8 and was organised by an Internet-based site E-zine @rticles.
In his congratulatory statement, E-zine Articles publisher Chris Knight (USA) told Shumba that his 200+ plus articles would continue to earn the benefits of “waves of increased free website traffic; excellent branding and market positioning; improved qualified lead generation; enhanced market credibility and improved media exposure.”
He was also invited to participate in the 5th “100 Articles in 100 Days Marathon Challenge” which began on September 23.
Interesting times indeed with the Internet offering vast opportunities not only for self-expression, but also for doing business in a globally wired world and for influencing perspectives, opinions and viewpoints.
Visibility in cyberspace is not only a now issue, but it is the future. However just like the “normal” world we know it comes with packages of advantages and pitfalls. It is how you understand what the medium is meant to achieve that matters in the end.
Recently, Shumba (RS) had a one-on-one with The Arena (H) where he explained what this ICT-related venture means to him and Zimbabwe. This week we publish the first part of the interview.
H: Congratulations for winning this rare award that shows that Internet culture is taking root in Zimbabwe. I could easily describe you as a pacesetter. But maybe the first thing is when did you start writing and in what language and on which subject?
RS: Thank you. I started in 2008 when I had my first attempt at documenting my thoughts. It was a small booklet in English. It was a result of having been invited by Gateway School to present a speech to commercial students. A hurriedly prepared PowerPoint presentation of 15 slides on the theme of “Discovering and pursuing purpose” evolved into a 65-page booklet, which I still have to this day.
H: Turning to the Internet-based award, how did you come to know about E-zine and how long have you been participating in their competitions?
RS: One day while surfing on the Internet, I came across what I viewed as a balanced and intriguing article by Ozias Mucheriwa. To me the surname appeared Zimbabwean. I intentionally commented on the article. Ozias then e-mailed and posted comments on my blogsite too.
That marked the start of our relationship. Ozias told me of some of the ways in which I could increase my influence on the global platform and one such website he highly recommended was www.ezinearticles.com. I posted my first article on March 22, 2010. My first article writing marathon was in May 2010 which makes it 5 months.
H: There are so many websites offering various services. Why E-zine?
RS: I was excited about the way they help you to improve your writing skills. They pay particular attention to detail, originality and quality. If you ever plagiarise, you are suspended immediately. They mark the work and in 24 hours your work goes live and millions of readers get access to your thoughts.
H: And E-zine’s advantages? Are there monetary rewards or you are do it for posterity?
RS: When you participate in E-zine competitions and when you post articles outside of the marathons, you get so much help to boost your confidence as an author. You get the prestigious Expert Author acknowledgement as your article volume increases.
You become a voice of reason, an authority worth paying attention to. You get a platform to contribute to the ever-growing body of knowledge. Most importantly, if you want people to access your website or blog, you can increase the visitors by mentioning the sites on each article.
You also get to connect with like-minded individuals, have opportunities to reach every part of the world. E-zine competitions have gifts to motivate participants, but there are no monetary rewards promised.
What I believe is that when you shy away from sowing seed, you should also shy away when harvest time comes. You cannot expect to become a voice of influence when you are not willing to sacrifice your intellect and make it available to those interested.
H: Can all and sundry take part?
RS: Anyone who has something original to say can participate. Incredible!
H: What are some of your writing achievements to date?
RS: I have managed to write four books in six months this year alone. Furthermore, a 5th book is going to be written in collaboration with 100 other authors from other nations. I am the only African author to co-author “101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career”. My articles are appearing on hundreds of sites all over the world including leadership websites, the Washington Post online newspaper, The Gambian’s Today online newspaper to name a few. I am receiving numerous invitations every week to write articles for different journals and websites.
I am once again running the E-zine marathon, which is in its 14th day as we speak. I have already done 35 articles out of the expected 100.
H: How do you think other Zimbabweans or Africans can benefit from E-zine @rticles?
RS: Benefits to Zimbabweans and Africa at large accrue from the fact that there is a body of knowledge that they can access to get information on virtually any subject. In terms of research material, this is an important option. Those who participate as authors have a chance to put Africa and Zimbabwe on the map.
Zimbabwe is undoubtedly one of the nations with the highest literacy level in Africa. It is time such investment made into our lives by parents, Government and NGOs begins to bear fruit that reforms education.
E-zine is a perfect platform to make your thoughts vulnerable to scrutiny by people you may never meet in life. E-zine will drive traffic to your online endeavours increasing your credibility and authenticity as an authority in your chosen area of expertise be it medicine, agriculture, business and so on.
Zimbabweans have the best story to tell in the whole world. From the nation that is last on the alphabet, the nation that has seen it all. We have been the centre of focus for many years in terms of the economy. Now it is our turn to tell of the lessons we learnt from the challenges. There is a ready audience out there if we can only step out of our new comfort zones to herald how God has worked with and in us. You never know who will be touched by your story out there.
H: Apart from the 100 articles, how many other articles have you written?
RS: When I entered this challenge, I managed to generate about 201 articles. Altogether I have over 500 unique articles. A majority of my articles have been refined and distilled into exciting books.
H: Have they been published?
RS: Some of my articles are published on the Internet but will be in book form in early November 2010.
H: What motivates you?
RS: I have made an observation that many people die full of potential. Generations are robbed of inventions, wisdom and counsel for lack of documentation. I purposed to speak beyond the grave and the only way to achieve that is through putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard. I am motivated by an unending deep-seated passion to see humanity live fulfilled and purposeful lives. I always find opportunity to inspire, educate, motivate and edify those I interface with.
Daily processes, life situations, work and social encounters are all a source of material worth commenting and writing about. I write on anything that builds the present and future generations to position them for greatness.
H: Do you see yourself stopping one day despite the advances in technology?
RS: When you have found your purpose, you have no license to operate outside it. It becomes the fuel for your survival. The living dead are the ones without a reason for breathing.
I have found my place and I can do this without making an effort anymore. It is now a habit. So to answer you, it will be compulsory for me to stop when dust goes back to dust. Otherwise inspiration is my life.
H: Of all the articles and/or books, which are your best?
RS: I like the following articles: 10 Attributes and attitudes every professional needs; 10 Effective ways to manage time; 10 Office etiquette tips; 10 Lessons that challenges taught me; 10 Excuses potential entrepreneurs make and lastly 10 Building blocks for strong companies in challenging times.
H: What’s with the number 10?
RS: I just fell in love with the number 10 this year 2010. It is a very significant number depicting the perfection of divine order. Classic reference to the Biblical Noah is the 10th generation from Adam; Abraham was the 10th generation from Shem; 10 commandments; 10 Clauses in the Lord’s prayer; 10 Plagues of Egypt; 10 Virgins in Jesus’ parable, etc. I can go on and on about this wonderful number. So, I have created close to 80 articles with 10 tips, pointers and lessons. Now I am creating 10 quotes a day everyday.
H: What should be the guiding principles for would-be writers?
RS: Carry a passion to communicate your thoughts and feelings. Passion is what drives you to do things even if you will not get a pay cheque for them. You need the discipline to write and keep writing. If you do something for 21 consecutive days it becomes a habit. My principle is to remain as original as possible, focused on what I want to communicate and do so as simply as possible. There is no reason to complicate knowledge as that perpetuates levels of ignorance.
Part 2 The Herald – 21 October 2010
Continued from 14 October
ICTs making world busy
THIS is the final part of the interview HILDEGARDE (H) had with award-winning e-writer RABISON SHUMBA (RS), who recently took part in an e-marathon writing competition with E-zine@rticles on the Internet. Shumba was one of six people from Africa to qualify.
H: Where do you find the time to write seeing that you run a business and are a family man?
RS: Where there is a will there is a way. We all have 24-hours in a day but what differs is how organised and responsible one is. I start my day at 2:30am, daily. This gives me competitive advantage because by the time others get to work I’d have worked for a good five hours.
I purposed to write at least 1 000 words in the five hours, and I do so daily. One has to assess commitments and then realign daily activity to ensure there is a balance in life. I do create time with family after work.
H: By so doing aren’t you neglecting your family, especially your spouse?
RS: It is paramount to strike a balance between writing and family. Any passion needs to be controlled and tamed. What is critical is to keep lines of communication open about sacrifices that may happen for a season. After work, I go straight home and spend quality time with my family. I have become a morning person and I’m more effective when the whole world is sleeping. It’s the early bird that gets the worm.
H: What role does your wife play?
RS: I would rate her as the best critic that I have ever come across. She participates by making me think differently over assumptions I’d have made. A writer needs to have balance and she brings that balance. She doesn’t read every article as she can’t cope with the volumes, but yes, given the time and free will, she gives criticism, which I appreciate. No writer can thrive without the support and understanding of a woman. Her support is phenomenal.
H: A former teacher, entrepreneur and now writing motivational books! Is this a career change in this e-generation?
RS: I realised that effectiveness is in the area of your purpose. While I am a multi-skilled and multi-faceted person, motivational writing and speaking have become my core areas of focus.
I maintain the fact that I have to invest and protect my interests in my business ventures. There was a reason I had to study theory of education with the psychology and philosophy that go with it, because my writings also deal with reforming the way people think as well as bringing in a fresh wave of wisdom.
But, I will always be an educator. I am building on that foundation now with a touch of inspiration. What may fall victim is my technical side since I trained as a computer science teacher. I now focus on leadership.
H: Who are your mentors and what role do they play in your life?
RS: I have multiple mentors. My main mentor in the area of creative writing is Dr Tawafadza Makoni, an entrepreneur, champion builder and teacher. Others include Dr Peter Raeth in the USA and Dr Edgar Makande a business consultant who mentors me in business.
Mentors use their God-given resources to build protégés. They model, inspire, guide and even rebuke me when I stray or lose focus. They have a voice that speaks into my life concerning the various elements i.e. business, spiritual, career, family and so on.
A generation that resists mentorship will lose all the virtues and values leaving them with nothing to pass on to future generations. Mentors help create the future.
H: Do you also mentor others?
RS: I believe in creating leaders in everyone I associate with. A nation is as strong as the leaders it creates and I choose to be part of the process. I do have young men and women who look up to me for assistance, counsel and mentorship.
Freely I receive mentorship and likewise I freely propagate it. As a matter of fact I have a few recruits who have joined me in the race for 5th E-zine Marathon to write 100 Articles in 100 days (HAHD). I shall rejoice when we stand together holding the flag of our nation when the race ends this December.
Selfishness with what God gives you is literally unfair because we are blessed to be a blessing to those around us.
H: Is your intellectual property protected? Are you not running risks here?
RS: People who made decisions to take risks have made inventions that have changed the face of the earth. They say no pain, no gain. The true essence of investment is because you are looking for return but all that is risk. I love risks. I have made big blunders in life but I don’t stop to mourn over silt milk. This is a risk worth taking. Remember the principle of giving and receiving works here.
If I can inspire you for free, I know you may talk about me for life. The goal is not to build my wallet but to inspire humanity. If I make money the goal, then it means I can not replenish myself. The benefits of risking my material far outweigh the dangers.
The world knows the truth anyway. Chancers will always be there just like the old Shona statement literally translated as; “There is no country without a witch”. You don’t live in fear of witches, you continue to prosper in their face. It is the same thing here. Some plagiarise and call it “research” but deep down there is an itch and inner witness that keeps telling you about your illegitimacy in claiming that material as yours.
H: How about having a homegrown E-zine?
RS: Brilliant idea! We would obviously not call it E-zine but borrow the idea. I am aware of efforts by Government and private sector companies in telecommunication and Internet service providers to make the Internet available at affordable rates all over the country.
With such high-speed access, we can easily host our own service and point the world to Africa, Zimbabwe. I always say that as Africans our challenge is not so much from a lack of ideas but from the laxity to implement. Let us work on this and put flesh to this idea.
H: What is the role and future of ICT in Zimbabwe?
RS: As the economy stabilises, ICTs will play a significant role in enhancing decision-making processes in organisations. Information and resource sharing is the essence of human and business existence and ICT delivers just that. Never before did Zimbabwe make ICT an urgent agenda item like the situation where we now have a Minister in charge of ICT policy formulation. This is history in the making.
Accessibility to Internet will grow with people in the rural areas also being on the mainstream of first world communication. No longer will ICT be a preserve of a few professionals in urban areas. The way a cellular phone is now a necessity to every individual is the way ICT services will be in the next five years. ICT is the future of commerce in our nation. E-commerce and all the other “e”s will be the norm.
This is where educators come in. There is a need for courses designed for non ICT specialists e.g. farmers, community workers and so on to embrace the dot com environment we are moving into.
H: We went on and on and I forgot to ask about your life story in summary?
RS: I come from a peasant farming background in Mwenezi, Masvingo. I completed my O-Level as the second best student in 1990. I couldn’t advance to A-Level because my father couldn’t afford. I had about thirteen siblings behind me.
We then agreed that the quickest way to get me financially independent so as to assist him with the needs of the family was to go for teacher training which I completed in 1995.
I however, never got to teach as I went to work in the private sector.
Then I started my own business, which has been running for the past 9 years. I am married to Jackie who has been a pillar of strength in tough times.
H: What is the future of writing in Zimbabwe, including the publishing industry?
RS: The future is bright to the degree that people are committed to making it so. We certainly will see more publications coming from Zimbabwe. There are many writers that are coming up but at the moment they remain uncelebrated heroes because no one knows about them.
I know of many authors who are looking outside our borders because of the issue of cost cutting which ends up impeding on quality. It is time we have quality in Zimbabwe.
There is enough material to publish if people could invest in printing quality material. With advances in ICT, I see many writers and publishers increasing the availability of e-books, audio books and so on. The world is becoming busier hence publishers have to adapt to the shift. The only constant in publishing remains change.
H: And the future of reading?
RS: I refuse to accept that to hide anything from an African you can simply put it in a book. Let me speak for Zimbabwe. This is not so. Our literacy level speaks volumes.
Reading will remain a priority not only for school and college students but also for professionals with a desire for continual improvement. I believe the appetite for local material will even grow when publishers step up the quality of material in circulation.
H: The quotable quotes on your blog — do you copy them from somewhere? What are you trying to achieve?
RS: I have grown to know about phenomenal statements and quotes by well-known speakers and how they helped me in different situations. I purposed to generate 10 power statements daily.
My goal is to have about one thousand and one quotes or statements of my own. So yes, all you see is original content. I hope to participate in creating a culture of generating Zimbabwean quotes that speak about where we come from and most importantly the destiny of our lovely nation.
H: What new quotable quote can you come up with right now?
RS: History is never a result of passivity. It is made by the daring lot who not only pride themselves in the mental capacities but carry enough tenacity to make their mental objects a reality.
Great thinkers who never had the audacity to make their ideas a reality died miserable deaths.