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Collen Kajakoto: A Thorn In My Tongue (prototype)

Collection of Collen Kajakoto's poems, printed as a small edition prototype for the Leipziger Buchmesse 2024.

Edited by Boiling Room Collective

This publication presents a collection of poems by Zimbabwean poet Collen Kajokoto (b. 1973) shaped by the author's exile in Berlin.

Kajokoto is a poet, performer, and defender of human and artists' rights from Domboshava village, near Harare. His poetry reflects the daily societal struggles in Zimbabwe, serving as a powerful expression of his emotions and beliefs. It addresses the lack of justice, peace, fairness, and freedom of expression in his country, while also embodying his determination to combat oppression and exploitation in their various forms.

His artistic journey began around 1998, but faced significant obstacles due to the political climate in Zimbabwe. Writers and publishers often encountered threats, and many publishing houses were hesitant to support works that could be banned by the government. Despite these challenges, Kajokoto managed to publish some of his poems in periodicals and journals and performed them at various venues.

Kajokoto's activism against artistic censorship and political dictatorship reached a crescendo with the publication of the poem “Slain Farmer” in 2000, which resulted in his arrest and torture in March 2002. Forced to flee to Botswana, then seek asylum in South Africa, his plea was rejected, leading to deportation back to Zimbabwe. There, he faced charges of inciting public violence and denigrating the President's office, resulting in a seven-year prison sentence without parole or remission. Upon his release in 2018, he was left physically, mentally, and financially impaired.

Following his release, Kajokoto continued on his path as a poet with works like “Black Crocodile” and “God's Secretary.” The publication of the latter again resulted in his arrest and interrogation by Zimbabwean authorities. For his safety, he moved to an undisclosed location in Harare with his daughter, receiving support from various organisations, including Artists at Risk (AR)-Bridging Fund, Amnesty International (USA), Freemuse, and Artists Civil Rights Defenders.

Thanks to the Writers-in-Exile Scholarship program initiated by PEN Germany, Kajokoto's journey recently took a turn for the better when he relocated to Germany, He now resides in Berlin as a scholar, continuing his life's work in a more supportive environment.

Co-published by TLTRPreß and Boiling Room Collective
Berlin 2024


  • Image of Collen Kajakoto: A Thorn In My Tongue (prototype)
  • Image of Collen Kajakoto: A Thorn In My Tongue (prototype)