Munnya Usuwana, whose stage name is Munnya Wordplay-Poet, is a poet, actor and drummer. He’s been writing poetry since 2012 and has performed on several stages since including the Havant Lit Festival, Zimbabwe Achievers’ Awards, Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards and Petersfield Poetry and Comedy.
His work is currently featured in a documentary Digging Deep which is part of the exhibition Digging Deep: Miners of African Caribbean Heritage at the National Coal Mining Museum for England in Wakefield, Yorkshire running now until January 4, 2020. The exhibition is the result of six years of research by historian Norma Henry.
What’s Digging Deep about?
It’s a documentary about African-Caribbean coal miners that lived and worked in the coal mines of England and Wales in the ‘50s to ‘80s. No one has really ever acknowledged their contribution to the industry and so the exhibition gives a look in on their lives and experiences in a way that has not been done before. I wrote a poem that’s featured in the documentary.
How did you get involved?
It was purely by accident. I’d performed at a fashion show in 2015 where I struck a conversation with the photographer who was also a journalist with the Nottingham News. The Nottingham News is collaborating with the Museum on the exhibition.
Where can we see the documentary?
Its currently showing at the Digging Deep exhibition at the National Coal Mining Museum for England until January 2020 after which it sets off on a travelling exhibition.
Give us a snippet of your poem in the documentary?
Stuck on a shift in a shaft
Not a guarantee I’m going home tonight to wife and
child that is only about nine…
The life that I live is simply not mine
A day to day compromise that can never be favoured
Wow…that’s moving and haunting. What’s something you discovered about black miners that you didn’t know about before?
Everything. from their working conditions, their contributions to the British empire and economy, their sacrifice, just everything. I was privileged to get firsthand testimonials from some of these men and they truly opened my eyes.
Before you became a poet, you were…
A motor mechanic. I studied Automotive Technology Engineering which is basically computers in cars.
That question beats me to be honest. I suppose it’s a gift because people really do claim to feel a way when they listen to my work. When I get a standing ovation, I’m always floored and it tells me that I’m doing the right thing.
If you weren’t writing poetry, you…
…would be lost
Any particular subject you like to write about?
I’ve mastered flexibility and I’m very adaptive, so I don’t stick to one theme. If something or someone inspires me, I just write about it.
Digging Deep the documentary was released on Saturday 22 September 2019 and is part of the Digging Deep:
Miners of African Caribbean Heritage at:
National Coal Mining Museum for England
Follow Munnya at:
Article first published by Molah Media at: https://molahmediaonline.