Munukayumbwa ‘Mimi’ Mwiya has described herself as a floater who sometimes still long enough to write. In her debut collection of poems, Mimi takes us on a journey of an average African woman… by heart and by experience.
Where did you start writing? Or how did writing find you?
_It’s a bit cliché, but I think I’ve been writing for as long as I could comfortably express myself in English (it’s only now as an adult that I’m writing more and more in my mother tongue – Silozi). Growing up, I was a shy little girl, with my nose always stuck in a book. I loved the escape of reading, so I guess it was only a matter of time before I found that escape in writing as well.
Who were your best writers? Or who did you read most?
Maya Angelou, Roald Dahl and E. B White really changed my life as a reader.
How was it like writing MAD WOMAN? How long did it take?
I always like to point out that I didn’t so much ‘write’ Mad Woman as much as I did just ‘put it together’. It’s a collection of pieces I’ve written over the years, some dating back as far as 2015. Eventually putting it together for publishing, took about six months.
MAD woman is a collection of poems that take us from Namibia to Lagos to Zambia. I like to call this an African connection. What were the motivations behind this African connection?
All those places have a really big part of my heart. They are all places I consider home, and it makes me really happy to know that reflects in my writing.
The title of this collection is another highlight, and I know how that can be catchy in the African context. How did you arrive at that title?
It’s the title of what I think one of the best poems in the book. See I love the word mad for that it is synonymous with angry, and it is synonymous with crazy. A lot of my life I’ve been called crazy, but I also fit the trope of the “angry black feminist”. So, while the book isn’t biographical in the strictest sense, whether you are calling me crazy, or calling me angry… I’m a Mad Woman. So I thought it a really fitting title.
How was your publishing process? Any troubles?
As you know, I self-published and while I’m glad I did it and I’m grateful for the reach Mad Woman has had…. I don’t think I’m ever self-publishing again. It was not an easy journey, but worthwhile, and I had an incredible support system.
How would you measure or analyse African literature, especially in a year like 2022?
We are doing the thiiiiings, man!!!! Haha. I think there has risen a crop of African writers that are writing for themselves. We are done being told how to tell our stories, and it is beautiful to behold. And it is beautiful to watch the world pay attention.
What would be your last words for African writers like you?
Write o. Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, please write. Our stories need and deserve retelling over and over and over again. For that to happen, they need to be documented.