Getrude Matshe – Born on the Continent

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Born On The Continent – Ubuntu is my most recent book and it is a spiritual memoir about my life growing up and living in Zimbabwe; my travels overseas while I was studying in Europe and my final spirit-led journey to New Zealand. The sub-title of my book is the word “Ubuntu,” this is the spiritual foundation of all African societies and literally translated it means “I am because you are”; Ubuntu is a way of being; a way of acknowledging our humanity. It is about empathy and compassion and I have found through my travels that although it was born on the African continent it exists all over the world. Hence the title of my book. The book has been described as a roller coaster ride by my readers, because it will make you laugh and cry and reflects the roller coaster life I live.

Tell us something about yourself.

I am from Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa, I was born to a family of five siblings, one older sister and three younger brothers and I had an opportunity to travel overseas with my parents when I was three; I think this opened up my eyes to the beauty of this world and sparked a curiosity in me to see the world. My background was in Information Technology having trained and worked as a developer and systems analyst for 18 years and finally becoming an entrepreneur when I got to New Zealand. I have been writing all my life I would say. In high school I fell in love with Shakespeare and Wilfred Owen’s First World War poetry and have always written poems and short stories about the places I have been and the people I meet.

What is interesting about me is my ability to create something out of nothing; my friends call me Merlin, because I have a strange ability to manifest what I want in life once I make the decision that I want it. Its that simple for me and I love to share this ability because really anyone can get what they want.

What inspired you to write this book?

My inspiration to write my book came in 2004; I had lived in New Zealand for 3 years and my parents had visited us for the first time. We were having Xmas lunch and watching the Oprah show; she had gone to South Africa that Christmas and was celebrating with 50,000 aids orphans. At the end of the show she stated that these children were the lost generation of Africa, they were kids who had lost one or both parents because of Aids and would never get to experience childhood or to go to school and Africa needed help. The show reminded me of what I had left behind and we sat down and counted the number of orphaned children in our immediate families and we have 89 between my husbands family and mine. So I decided to put together my collection of writings and self-publish my spiritual memoir and sell the book to raise money for these children. And in the last 6 year I have managed to extend the help to 360 Aids orphans.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I was 15 years old and in high school and we got a new English teacher from the UK called Mr Dave Davies; he taught us English Literature in a very non convention way, on the first day he took us out side and made us lie down on the grass and he ready Wilfred Owen’s First World War poetry to us while we had our eyes closed and that was when I realised the power of words and how you can paint and describe something and the reader can see the picture in their minds eye.

That was when I started writing poems and short stories and have never stopped.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I wake up early; I find the best time for me to write is 2am in the morning. When I am in a writing mode I don’t even need to set my alarm; I just seem to wake up at 2am and get to work. The energy seems to only last until I have finished the writing project though, its really strange.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing, it has been an amazing experience; absolutely fascinating to be able to start something like this and learn along the way. Every mistake I made was just a lesson and showed me how to do things differently in the future.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I am working on a film script at the moment; its an adaptation of my book into a feature film. Very exciting and challenging as I am having to learn to tell the story with pictures instead.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Just keep on writing, believe in your book and protect it. Share it with people who are supportive and who will help you get it to the next step. I treat my books as if they were my babies and I am pregnant and until it is born, I am very protective about who I share it with. With regards to publishing, do your research first and build your platform before you approach publishers, it really helps you to take the book to the next level.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Entrepreneurs, women and the elderly