Introducing Brandon Pfunder - New Designer for Mosi Oa Tunya Literary Review
Crammed four-by-four with the back door held slightly ajar, we paid our two dollars on the road to Mbare. Elder Fourie and I climbed out of the rusty Peugeot 504. We were dropped near Rakajani Street. We visited some good friends and made new ones all before noon. I was even able to stop at my favorite take-away for chingwa and Fanta (the girl knew me by name and order). We spent the entirety of the day walking the streets of Mbare. The sun set and I could smell the fires and chibage cooking in the streets. This is when I took mental photos of the sky, the moon, and the stars. I paused and took in the rest of the sights, sounds, friends and strangers - all to be remembered forever. We’d stop and buy roasted chibage to eat while we waved down an emergency taxi to take us back to our flat in Harare. That was back in the mid-nineties.
I was a missionary long ago, and fell in love with Zimbabwe, and with her people. I spent my
years in Harare, Kwekwe, and Bulawayo. I can honestly say I didn’t live in Zimbabwe. It lives in me. It changed me.
I was lucky enough to live with Zimbaweans who taught me some Shona. In one family, whom I still call my family, amai wangu only spoke Shona to me. She wanted me to learn so badly. I was never really fluent. My love of the language never left. But I did. I returned to the states.
Shortly (and I mean shortly) after I got home, I visited a friend a few hundred miles away where I met a wonderful girl, Julianne. She impressed me so much that I never went back home. I moved, we dated, I got a job, we got married, and we started our adventures. Part of those adventures involved starting a family. We have three beautiful daughters, one spunky son, and a crazy puppy. The oldest daughter will be married this year, and our son is away on a mission in Vermont. I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. I finished cancer treatment with the help of my family. I have some chronic complications but am in remission at the moment. I am thankful for family each day, immediate and extended. Get your colonoscopy!
I studied Illustration and Design at Washington University in St. Louis and at the University of Utah. My design career has taken me from designing headstones to Creative Director. Currently, I design for a multi-unit restaurant brand in the states. Here, I do cutting-edge design for all visual, branding, and architecture elements such as graphic design, merchandise, marketing, environmental design, digital design, UX, and research & development. I’m also the store design director and fit stores into LOD’s, develop exterior and interior renderings, interior design, 3-D, VR layouts, and prototype design. In the past I’ve been a senior Illustrator where I’ve created new illustrations and designs for multiple properties. I’ve innovated new 3-D paper crafting techniques and designs for consumer use. I’ve also collaborated and created art with other brands like Martha Stewart, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Sesame Workshop. I’ve managed art departments and sign shops.
Surprisingly, after all these years, I decided to immerse myself into ChiShona, somehow. For
Christmas, I asked for Shona lessons. I found a tutor, Kundy, who teaches me over Zoom every week. In the course of my studies, one homework assignment was to find a Shona story, pick out a paragraph, and read aloud in the next session. At one point prior to this lesson, I had studied on my own by finding some children’s stories like “Tsoro naGudo” by Daniel Mutendi. I phoned my friend Evelyn from Mbare, now in the diaspora, who has been helping me pick Shona back up. This story taught me what “Gudo raiva dununu ramakoko” means, as she laughed through the phone. But for this assignment, I had to find something different and grown-up. So, I went online to find new fiction in Shona. I knew there had to be. I searched and came across Masimba Musodza. Deeper googling revealed a short story, "Imba yaSekuru Brown." I had to go read it and use it in my lesson. I did just that. So, I blame Masimba, Evelyn, Daniel, and Kundy for getting me to this point.
That is where my first introduction to Mosi Oa Tunya Literary Review came. I went through the first issue mainly for homework, but continued because of what it represented and what it supports. I reached out to Tendai and Ellen asking to be a part of their endeavor. And here I am: a toddler to Shona, with a love for Zimbabwe that has overpowered me. Ndiri pano kuzobatsira. Zimbabwe inondifadza.