Literature stands as an integral part of every Zimbabwean student’s learning curve given that the basic 12 years of school include the subject.
Whether as a stand alone subject or as part of the recognized language of formal communication, as part of the mother tongue course or even existing as library time, literature constitutes a large part of a student’s journey educational and personal wise.
Given the curriculum setup, it is quite unfortunate that majority of the local published novels, anthologies and plays do not exist in soft copy format.
The recent decision by veteran novelist and playwright VaAaron Chiunduramwoyo to terminate his contract with a local publisher raised the idea of local publishing houses investing in soft copy publications.
In an advancing world that has centralized the lives of persons on their smartphones it is quite sad to see the gradual extinction of interest in local literature.
When one notices how the clock, directory, map book, calculator, radio, camera, flashlight and dictionary amongst a whole of other items that have been absorbed into one light smartphone, it should remind publishers of the need to keep the flames of Zimbabwean literature alive.
Students pursuing literature at learning institutions and persons who read books as a hobby are turning away more from the “Wandibaya Panyama Nhete”, “Muchadura”, “Jekanyika”, “Harvest of Thorns”, “Bones” and “Waiting for the Rain” amongst others due to their unavailability in smartphone accessible formats.
The easier accessibility of foreign literary texts has weakened the attention by readers cast on local texts as these are more affordable and can be read as per reader’s preference of font size and page colour.
Weight in hard copies at most must lie in the fact that given the prices they are fetching for in book stores, having a hard copy is holding onto an asset of value.
It is maybe safe to assume that availing Zimbabwean classic texts in soft copy format will enlarge the numbers of readers and expose writers more to international audience. With most films being literature adaptations, having the books online will lead to television productions based on those texts and even numerous translations.
One wonders who has not been willing to ensure availability of local literature online for easier accessibility. Maybe or maybe not it was refusal by the authors, resource limitation or negligence by publishers, past all that there is an urgent need by all parties to conform to future library or make concerted efforts to avail more hard copies to libraries and book stores at affordable prices.