Tinashe Tafirenyika holds two
National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) in Spoken Word Poetry in Zimbabwe (2017, 2018) and is the first woman and youngest person to receive one. She also has a Bulawayo Arts Award (BAA) for her poetry.


I am in love. (Autocorrect wanted me to say “I am in love with you”, but alas, dear reader, my heart belongs to another).

Saying that literally just made me throw up in my mouth a bit. Or maybe all the junk food I have been consuming this festive season is giving me inyongo? But the point is, love is icky and gross and weak. Love makes one weak. And love doesn’t really allow you to choose. You can choose who you date, who you marry, who to put in your will, who to buy chocolate and roses on Valentine’s (hint-hint lover of mine, I know you are probably reading this. And any secret admirers too, I am open for business in the most Zimbabwean way possible) but you cannot choose who to love. If love (and sexuality) could be chosen, I would intentionally fall in love with one of my best friends. Or both of them. I’ve known them since I was 15 and I would commit the highest treason for them but I just can never love them like that.

If love could be chosen, I would choose poetry and writing over science because God knows, the latter does not come easy to me, yet every time it is an option, I pick it. And when it is not, I seek it out no matter the cost (cue the thousands of dollars the family spent on my degree). If love was a choice, I would have left this country when I had a chance, when I was younger and had more money but here I am, growing grey hairs and my passport getting closer to expiring without me ever leaving my father’s house for anything longer than a month.

Love has made me weak. Love has taken away my power to choose. I cannot decide when to apply it and when not to because love knows no preference (euww, so poetic. . . and corny!).

A strange, white man in a waistcoat painted my nails for a secret at some festival last year. Chit chat comes with nail painting, and from our interaction, he concluded that I deflect feelings and emotions and all that nonsense because I am a woman and feelings in a woman mean she thinks with her ovaries.

First, I do think with my ovaries, especially when I see Idris Elba on screen. But then, now that I have had six months to think about it, the whole Ice Queen thing is not a gender super feminist act. It is a “me” act. Why? Because I’m a poet, so I’m a foolish romantic who believes in happy endings and watches Christmas rom-coms when no one is there to judge her and cries every time Tony Stark says “I love you 3000” and hates weddings but gets emotional during the ceremony anyway and puts kissy faces at the end of WhatsApp messages even when it is simply not necessary.

.Photo by STEPHEN POORE on Unsplash

I deny that I feel because I feel too much and honestly if I did not feel at all, I would be a worse writer than I am right now. It’s always easier to distance oneself from the parts of us that we don’t understand or cannot control and for me that is my giant bleeding heart that wants to adopt all the puppies in the world and give everyone ice cream to make them all less sad about capitalism. I am in love and that is ok. I cry often, and that is also ok. I take my coffee with extra sugar and waaaaayy too much milk and though that is not “broody writer”/”coffee lover” enough for some, ngeke ngizwe ngabo so here’s to a year of love, puppies and very milky coffee to all the writers that feel they are not hardcore enough to be taken seriously (particularly the girls).

You do not have to be anything you are not; we will read your sappy nonsense and totally adore it because we are all a bunch of romantic idiots too (Insert unnecessary kissy face). ( ˘ ³˘)♥

Tinashe Tafirenyika
Tinashe Tafirenyika, in 2017, became the first woman and youngest person to receive a National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) in Spoken Word Poetry in Zimbabwe. The same year she also received a Bulawayo Arts Award (BAA) for her poetry. In 2018 she became the only person to have won a NAMA twice in the Spoken Word Poetry category. Tinashe lives in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.