Issues Personalities

Is Tony Mochama Taban’s literary son?

Good people,

I came across this email, written by Prof Chris Wanjala, and posted in the Pen Kenya google group, and I thought it was interesting. Though Prof Wanjala shies away from comparing Mochama with Zimbabwe’s Dambudzo Marechera, I would be more incline to compared Mochama, aka Smitta with Dambuzo. Read on…

Dear Juba, Taban may be in Juba and getting entangled in administrative chores.But he left a genre of writing which ver few younger authors are exploiting.I dont like Tony Smitta Mochoma’s guts very much,but I secretly admire the way he enjoys an irreverence and iconoclasm which are decidedly Tabanic. You and I hated Taban because of his tendency to draw attention to himself in Meditations in Limbo and The Last Word. I see this streak in young and naughty Smitta.Taban is also good at dropping names: of politicians,the women he has courted and slept with, the coffee bars and entertainment places he has patronized, and media personalities he admires.I dont want to talk about Dambudzo Marechera at this juncture. Taban engulfs himself in controversies and self-deprecation.So does Smitta Mochama .Is Tony Smitta Mochama Taban’s literary son?

4 replies on “Is Tony Mochama Taban’s literary son?”

I’d be very reluctant to say Mochama is Taban’s son! Taban and Mochama actually have very little in common! Their ‘commonality’ ends at the poing that the two are both ‘irreverent’ to send boundaries – they always push the taboo line (and seem hell bent to blur it altogether!). Another area Taban and Mochama have some semblance is in coining words on their own right. Taban is famed for ‘lexicographicide’ and others that he coined to use as he rebelled against all Victorian language rules of grammar and syntax (not to say anything about throwing Victorian decorum through the window). At least Taban was playing with the English language and I bet it is easier to understand Tabans’coined words. Mochama is a different kind of animal! He mixes Russian words (Dasdivanya or something like that for goodbye is his favourite), and the urban lingua sheng. All this is blended by Mochama into one thick, holy mess! There are words he coins by appending Russian suffixes to sheng words (very annoying for those of us who know little of either tongue if Sheng is a tongue, that is!) And there good people, the comparison ends. Mochama, a good friend of mine, lives on the edge. He is closer, I think, to the departed South African writer Canadose (Can Themba) than to Marechera – except in loving their beers. Can Themba is closer to Mochama in the sense that both like practising what they writer or rather their writings are an extention of their daredevil ways. Themba is remembered for going into a white’s only church to test the white Christian’s adherence to the principle of ‘brotherhood in Christ’. Predictable, there was a hot chase of Themba (with his photographer) down the road by angry churchmen. That is the sort of stuff Mochama can’t shy away from. Taban definitely has some ‘conservatism’ if the profession he decided to take is anything to go by. Lecturing and a professor at that is not easy, it requires some rigorous study and adherence to a rigid timetable. Well, I don’t see Mochama stick to anything that rigid – though the guy is a trained lawyer and can actually contribute intellectually as a lawyer! Well, he doesn’t show (at least not yet!) any signs of depression, as evidenced by Can Themba and Marechera. However, for living on the edge and partying for ever, maybe he’s a blend of Taban, Themba, Marechera and Ernest Hemingway. To say Mochama is a son of Taban is almost to opine that he’s an exact replica but I dare say Mochama is ‘crazier’ than Taban! The guy is much, much worse when it comes to breaking taboos in every front!

Watt can a man like taban themba, especially wen one is dumber than dambudzo?
to be consciously derivative, esp on one’s own character, is not easy …
the aim of comparison in this context is to shift from being a body, to being somebody else together …
i will only say ( in the well known trad of mochama modesty, he heh) that while i love(d) taban and ID’d with him linguistically, i fear the damnation of a dambudzo, and wish we possessed the mad courage of ernest hemingway.
but brother mwazemba, if i can find a white church here in canada, a la canadose (and a compliant fotographer to stay close, of course) .. then we’ll be engaged in a hot chase. Or chasers. or something…

better read taban’s works before making erratic statements. Read batsiary in sanigraland, herolette, he and him etc then tell us what jathur joka-ji has to say. Tip: read him against exitentialist theoretical framework. Folks, Taban is one of the most prolific writers in the East African scene but amazingly the least read and the easiest to castigate. How many of his works have you read apart from The Last word-cultural synthesis? Anybody ready to write study guide to Another Nigger Dead?

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