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April 25, 2018

Self doubt is the biggest challenge for writers

Rabison Shumba is a Zimbabwean author. He spoke to our writer Nduta Waweru during a recent visit to Nairobi


Who is Rabison Shumba?

Rabison Shumba is a Zimbabwean-born best selling author, international motivational speaker, life coach and youth mentor. He is also a leadership trainer as well as telecoms expert with a professional career spanning over 18 years in a number of industries.

Why is writing such an important medium for you?

Writing is a powerful way to preserve thoughts and words. Writing immortalises my speeches ensuring that I can still add value to many people across the globe.

How did you transform your ‘light bulb moment’ into a tangible, breathing trade?

I started using social media to reach and connect with more people. I then took a step further to ensure that I publish the content I generated daily. I started writing 1,000 words a day for the last four and a half years, a commitment and discipline I have maintained to this day.

Soon enough, I started receiving invites to speak locally, regionally and internationally. I then started mentoring and training the next generation of leaders influencing them to leave a legacy in their own generation.

What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced as an author?

The main challenge is self-belief which is impacted by self doubt. People believe in you to the degree that you have confidence and belief in your abilities. The other challenge is making sure you live out the message you tell others to live by.

Thirdly, as a writer, another challenge is staying original in terms of your content. One has to always dig deep within to ensure they don’t end up as mere copycats of what others have said in the past.

Lastly, lack of people willing to mentor was a challenge, as more people want to protect what they know and not pass on to others.

What informs your writing?

My writing is premised on the daily activities around me. I then share my thoughts on social media platforms as a way of “testing” the validity and relevance of what I would have generated. I write in bite size chunks because I know people are busy and would not want to consume huge volumes of content. This helps me write say 20 different inspirations in a day that may not be related. It is like a brainstorming session. Once I have all my mixed bag of inspirations I then group them based on themes to then go into various chapters and books. In a nutshell, I don’t tell myself to sit for the next 100 days writing on one subject.

Could you take us through your publishing journey and the lessons in publishing you learnt not only in Zimbabwe but across Africa.

Having started writing motivational pieces, I decided to set up a blog. Soon enough, a lot of people followed and that is when I converted those blurbs into a fully-fledged book. A decision needed to be made on whether to find a publisher or do self-publishing. I chose the latter because no one was offering a convincing deal. This however meant I took care of the whole publishing process and I loved it and have never looked back.

I aim to release a book a year. I have now released four books on my own in four years and I have also co-authored 101 Great Ways to Enhance your Career with such notables as Brian Tracy and others. I have also contributed to local and international journals and magazines such as Performance 360 Magazine.

I also co-authored a Shona poetry anthology with 17 upcoming poets. The book has already been accepted as a set book for Advanced Level Shona in Zimbabwe from 2016 – 2018.

What have you learnt in being an author that you could never have learnt in being a speaker, life coach or consultant?

If I had not become an author, I would certainly not have learnt much about the publishing industry, its pitfalls and benefits and that writing is what propels your speaking. You cant speak what you have never written down and expect to have a sustainable career. Being an author has made me progress beyond my imagination.


How could governments promote a reading and writing culture in today’s world?

We can promote a reading and writing culture by ensuring that we profile writing as a noble career. We also need legislation that promotes the industry such as anti-piracy policies. In addition, governments need to ensure they offer grants to content creators who focus on producing literary works that go global and reduce taxes for those involved in the writing business.

Government should also promote writers by ensuring that their material is put in schools and set up platforms where writers are recognised through annual awards ceremonies that profile their works and accomplishments.

Writing competitions can be put in place as well to build writers from early age all the way to adulthood. A reading culture can be promoted through setting up of reading clubs, providing easy access to published material through ensuring educational content is zero-rated on websites and ensuring access to mobile devices that increases e-readiness in the majority of the population.

What do you think hinders this generation from rising and contributing to their nations’ success?

The issue of hard work and doing everything with integrity is becoming extinct in this generation. So while there could be many ideas in our generation across Africa, there is very little implementation to complement the ideas we have. Our generation believes in “get rich quick” schemes.

We also have a false belief that one can only contribute to a nation if they serve in public office or in government forgetting that everyone regardless of area of endeavor is a firm contributor to national success.

Which other authors are you reading right now?

I am reading Capitalist Nigger by Chika Onyeani and What Wakes You Up Alarm Or Purpose by Kariuki Kamau. Next will be Your Success, Your Responsibility by Amina Athman also from Kenya. I just love African writers.


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