Hazel Tobo, also known as Fasaha Mshairi was born in Tembisa and bred in Polokwane. She is a writer and spoken word artistsince 2004 and she has since grown into the arts of poetry and photography. Her greatest achievement is having become a self-published author of the poetry anthology; My Broken Azania. Still seeking growth in the world of art and literature she has been published in Poetry Potion’s Poetry is not a luxury and New Generation print editions as well as Shindig Awe Print publication , audio and video compilation and last but not least The University of Johannesburg’s Afro Alphabets Poetry collection for 2015.
“My Broken Azania is a compilation of the continent’s socio-cultural and political state, and my grievances in form of poems. It is also based on the areas of my surrounding and Johannesburg my current place of residency. I speaking of some of the grotesque corners of the city, experiences and that which is my perspective and feel about the city’s most populated areas.”
“I always say that poets have been granted the gift of giving the silenced a voice, we are the ones who mourn at the sight of dark clouds over our countries and communities. I write to voice out, to heal, and to shed light to that which has been turned blind towards;
I write for those who can’t write their own stories and for my own personal wellbeing.” Said the prolific Hazel.
Poetry is the root of Hazel’s inspiration. By the look of things she breathes poetry. “There is not a day in my life where I will not be attracted to poetry, it is a coping mechanism and writing the book was also a way of setting a milestone for 10 years in poetry. My Broken Azania is for the people as well as myself; I was ready to share pieces of my experiences and gift.I have taken it upon myself to call Africa my little Azania, the poems are themed on Africa and mostly the sad sides of it, hence ‘’Broken’’. These, however, being my own perceptions and feelings on the country and continent social and political state.”
“Publishing the book has been the greatest challenge I have ever had to deal with, but because it is something I wanted to do with all heart, soul and mind, I did it through sleepless nights, experiencing self-doubt and getting back on my feet to continue and push the publication. School has always been hard but all it takes is to focus on my goals and through that I am able to juggle the two.”
“I was looking to be one of the people who don’t just sit on their thoughts and worries about their communities, I am hoping to have my book reach individuals who feel the same but aren’t voicing out with the hope that they get to voice out about the states of their communities and that would be the first step to coming together as poets and artist to find solutions and take back the streets of our broken communities. We all cry out but not everyone one does it in the open, and if we all gather to share our worries surely we can reach a common ground. I also want to reach out to young minds before they get tainted by the roughness of the streets to wake up and learn to choose suitable paths of life.
Q & A with Hazel
“All my poems are the best I could give however one that I find to be a favourite of mine is titled: A GIST OF THE MOUNTAIN FIRE.”
Hardest thing about writing?
I think for me is reaching a point of satisfaction with my craft. I am constantly feeling the urge to better my poems.Learningto let go of a poem at the right time is hard.
Easiest thing about writing?
The easiest thing about writing a book is the thought of it, the thought of it comes so easily as well as obtaining an ISBN number.
How long did it take to write the book?
It took me close to a year and a half to compile the book, constantly writing suitable pieces, shortlisting and editing.
Who inspires you?
Credo Mutwa; Mazisi Kunene; Don Mattera; N.S Madiba and Mongane Wally Serote
Where to from here?
I would like to see my book in the city libraries, school libraries and on book store shelves like all other authors who have worked hard to get somewhere. I also aspire to have book readings every now and then, be part of the literary festivals in my home province too.
Advice to aspirant writers?
Read a lot but always remember to be your own writer, not to write how people you look up to write but just be authentic and true to yourself. The idea is to dream big and set realistic goals.
HOW TO GET MY BOOK
Orders can be placed at firstname.lastname@example.org or 060 682 9754
Each copy goes for R100.
Hand or mail deliveries available and coming to a bookstore near you.