BY AGATHA CHUMA
CYNTHIA “Blackbird” Mapando is a 20-year-old Harare spoken word artist, presenter, scriptwriter, motivational speaker who believes that words convey a message that can change the face of her perception of life.
She works as a presenter for the national broadcaster ZBCtv under YGT and LipSynck as well as other organizations such as Bira Renhetembo, LitFest and Kodzero Talent Show among others.
The bubbly and determined poet believes that every voice has a platform, not just the loudest but all voices, and the platform of her voice only becomes strong when she interacts more with the world.
At such a young age, she hosted three poetry shows: Mapapiro poetry jam, Poetic slam on the red carpet and The Art in You exhibition.
NewsDay Life & Style met Blackbird, who enthusiastically shared her poetic journey.
How did you develop an interest in poetry?
Poetry was something that saved me when I was trapped in my darkest days.
Pen and paper were the only things I could find solace in during sadness and depression, so to understand the unknown I looked deep within and realized that writing was everything. what I needed.
I would let out my emotions in ink as well as my moments of joy too.
I guess it was something inside me but hidden because the right time hadn’t come yet. But over time, I got attached to my scars (Poetry on Paper) and then made them into something unique to look at.
How has your journey been so far?
The trip was awesome and amazing, tiring and scary at the same time.
Despite life’s twists and turns, I grew up through experiences and if it wasn’t for everything I’ve been through so far, I don’t think I would be where I am today. You meet different people, different mentalities, different attitudes and that’s the uniqueness of being a poet.
my poem lean on me inspired someone who was about to commit suicide. As short as it was, it was strong that it saved someone from dying by suicide.
I understand that poetry is a way to communicate with people who are in different situations and for me, I am happy that they chose to turn to me when faced with a life or death situation.
It was an opportunity to use my God-given talent and hold back someone who wanted to kill themselves without realizing that they might still have a lifetime of laughter and joy to live. I’m really glad I did it and through poetry.
Your inspiration in the poems
My poems have always been about life, every circle around it based on what I see, hear or feel, the people around me, the process I take as well as where I come from and where I see myself .
The inspiration in my poems is deep, either I speak to you through poetry or you speak to me and I listen as a poet. This is how inspiration comes and goes.
Besides poetry, what else did you do?
I work as a host for organizations and for our national television. I love interacting with people from different backgrounds, which is why I chose to present on television.
So how do you relax?
I would say my favorite down time is spending time with a positive mindset, creative and hard working people. Other times I relax with what I do best, which is being at work, which is a presentation.
My greatest achievement to date is having the ability, the courage, the determination and the diligence to make an idea a reality.
A poetry red carpet event I hosted last month is also one of my accomplishments because it’s the biggest event I’ve ever hosted in my entire life. I truly believe this is something worth applauding and worth being the greatest achievement of my life.
Well even though I would like to say otherwise I think my determination and ambition can help me visualize my future and I feel it is full of goodness because my beginnings might be messy but the end will never be small and I trust God that where he’s taking me is just inexplicable, just WOW… can’t say much.
I would say most of the time trying to pull the audience off their couch is still a major challenge I face. Sometimes I end up bringing an artist as a marketing strategy and also to avoid having a failed event.
Sponsorship is another huge challenge that sometimes drags me down, but as a determined person, I refuse to let it get me down, so I look for other ways to support myself.
Message to budding poets
The harder the road, the softer the destination. Embrace each other and everything you encounter and train your mind to see well in every situation, good or bad, it happens for a reason.
Remember, you are not alone.
- Follow Agatha on Twitter @AgathaChuma