Saturday, December 2, 2017

Charles Mungoshi turns 70




(Mungoshi birthday pic by D. Maruziva)
 
Legendary Zimbabwean writer Charles Mungoshi turns 70 today 2 December 2017. Mungoshi handles a broad range of literary genres and styles in a way that is very rarely surpassed by many in the socalled Third World today. His literary profile is compact.  He is a novelist, poet, short-story writer, playwright, film scriptwriter, actor, editor, translator, and consultant.
While each of the other prominent writers of Zimbabwe like Vera, Marechera, Chinodya, Chiundura Moyo and Sigogo, have tended to write in English or Shona or Ndebele only, Mungoshi has written convincingly and continuously in both Shona and English. In 1975 alone, for instance, Mungoshi published two books: Waiting for the Rain (a novel in English) and Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva (a novel in Shona). These two works exude separate amazing qualities that one wonders how they could have been written “back to back.”

That ambidexterity was no fluke because later, in 1980, Mungoshi repeated a similar feat, publishing Inongova Njakenjake (a play in Shona) and Some Kinds of Wounds (a short-story collection in English.)  It is as if Mungoshi writes simultaneously with two pens - one in the left hand and the other- in the right hand!
In fact and as shown below, between 1970 and 2000, a period of 30 years, Mungoshi made an average of one major publication in every one and half years and won a prize of sorts for each of them.

  1.  Makunun'unu Maodzamoyo (Brooding Breeds Despair) (1970)
  2. Coming of the Dry Season (1972
  3. Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva (How Time Passes) (1975)
  4. Waiting For the Rain (1975)
  5. Inongova Njakenjake (1980)
  6. Some Kind of Wounds (1980)
  7. The Milkmen Doesn't Only Deliver Milk (anthology) (1981)
  8. Kunyarara Hakusi Kutaura? (1985) (Silence is Golden?)
  9. The Setting Sun and The Rolling World (1987)
  10. Stories From A Shona Childhood (1989)
  11. One Day Long Ago (1991)
  12. Abide with me (1992)
  13. The Axe (1995)
  14. Gwatakwata (1995)
  15. Children’s Video Picture Book ((1998)
  16. Walking Still (1997)
  17. Writing Still (2004) an anthology in English with Mungoshi's poems
  18. Branching Streams Flow in the Dark (2013)
Awards

  1. International PEN Awards (1975 twice for both Shona & English and 1981)
  2. Noma Honorable Awards For Publishing in Africa (1980, 1984, 1990 and 1992)
  3. Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book in Africa for The Setting Sun and The Rolling World (1988)
  4. Honorary Fellow in Writing Award in the Creative Activities of the International Writing Program by The University of Iowa (1991)
  5. USIA (United States Information Agency) Award for participating in the International Visitor Program (1991)
  6. The Setting Sun and The Rolling World was a New York Time notable book of the year (1989)
  7. Order of Merit Certificate Award by Zimbabwe Writers Union for winning in 1984 & 1992 the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa (1997)
  8. Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best Book in Africa for Walking Still (1998)
  9. Charles Mungoshi as 1998 winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, he was to be received in audience by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. That year again the Queen graciously agreed to meet the winner at Buckingham (Tuesday 12 May 1998)
  10. Received 7 awards at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair's 75 Best Books in Zimbabwe for 7 of his books (2004)[5]

11.  National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) Silver Jubilee Award (2006)

  1. One of Charles Mungoshi's poems has been curetted by the William & Melinda Gates Foundation as a  permanent display as public art at their new headquarters in Seattle, Washington, in the U.S. 2011

 

  1. Certificate of Honor Award of the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe International Book Fair for dedicated service (2013).

14.  National Arts Merit Award 2014.

In the year 2004  Zimbabwe 75 best books, a project meant to come up with the best books ever to come out of Zimbabwe, Mungoshi appeared in the top 5 lists in both English and Shona categories – a feat completed by no other Zimbabwean writer.  The late Ruzvidzo Mupfudza, a short-story writer and essayist, even joked in The Daily Mirror of the same week that had any of Mungoshi’s works been translated to Ndebele, he could also have led in that category!
On 3 March 2006, Mungoshi appeared in the final list of the recipients of the Silver Jubilee Literary Awards, alongside Shona novelist Aaron Chiundura Moyo, pathfinder literary critic, George Kahari and Ndebele novelists, Ndabezinhle Sigogo and Barbara Nkala. He had beaten other hot nominees: fellow writers like Chenjerai Hove, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Mordekai Hamutyinei, Thompson Tsodzo, Pathisa Nyathi, Ben Sibenke and the late Dambudzo Marechera, and Yvone Vera.
As stated before, Mungoshi handles a broad range of literary genres and styles in a way that is yet to be surpassed by anyone in Zimbabwe. If the novel as in Makunun’unu Maodzamoyo (1970) or Waiting for the Rain (1975) offers the man a wider axis to explore and develop ideas, maybe his shorter bursts of inspiration find acute expression in shorter fiction as in Coming of the Dry Season (1972), Some Kinds of Wounds (1980) and Walking Still  (1997).  When that is done, the man does not linger long and suffer for he also broke into poetry in The Milk-man doesn’t Only Deliver Milk (1981). Feeling maybe trapped with traditional literary forms, he could, and as happened in 1992 with Abide with me, 1995 with The Axe and Gwatakwata, Children Video Picture Book 1997, get into writing for the screen.  Not apologizing for it, or looking back, he can go into acting itself. For instance he appears in plays as “the journalist” in Ndabve Zera, “the store-keeper” in Makunun’unu Maodzamoyo and as Trebonius in Julius Ceasar (produced by Andrew Shaw.)

When it suits him, he can also hit the road and present papers in Zimbabwe and across the globe.  The numerous invitations he has received are testimony to his status as an unofficial cultural ambassador of Zimbabwe. He has been Visiting Lecturer at the University of Florida in the 2000 Spring Semester and Resource Person at Netherlands’ Groningen Children’s Book Year Workshop in 1996. His profile shows that from 1980, 1990, Mungoshi did not go for a year without giving a paper in places like the University of Florida, Iowa, Durham University, Amsterdam, New Zealand, Australia, Cambridge University and many more.
Mungoshi is not very well known as a poet, arguably because he writes less poetry. However, his single poetry anthology, The Milkman Doesn’t Only Deliver Milk is deep and revealing. He refers to poetry in one interview as “only a sideline, a mere finger exercise” in his continuing endeavor to condense language to a spare state of fine precision. Mungoshi’s poetry exudes the styles and philosophies of his more celebrated prose.
The greatest strength of Mungoshi literature is the life-like feel he has for people.  He has sympathy for the under-dog, without over-writing. His characters belong to believable circumstances, place and time and are endearing. With use of deceptively simple language and plot comparable only to Mozambique’s Luis Honwana’s and maybe South-Africa’s Ezekiel Mphahlele’s too, Mungoshi tells stories about things you didn’t quite know about people you know.
For Mungoshi, writing is not external. It is participatory. It is not a profession or hobby. It is life. He says about writing parts of Waiting for the Rain: “I was living in it (the story didn’t happen in the past. It is a drum. It is happening, it is playing now.”
And maybe unknown to him, Charles Mungoshi helped introduce and popularize the techniques of psychological realism and stream of consciousness in Zimbabwean Literatures. At the attainment of Zimbabwe’s independence, African scholars in the Department of English of the University of Zimbabwe found Mungoshi’s quantity and quality of work very useful in arguing for a course on works by Africans in English language. The Rhodesian academics had often argued that there were not enough of such works to be studied in schools, colleges and at university levels.
A research conducted recently on the same department alone had very interesting revelations.  First, Mungoshi’s works have been translated to numerous non-European languages; Waiting for the Rain from English: to Hungarian (1978), to Norwegian (1980) and to Russian (1983) second, Coming of the Dry Season from English: to Russian (1985) Third, The Setting Sun and the Rolling World, from English: to Japanese (1995) Stories from a Shona Childhood from English: to Swiss (1996), to German (1988), Walking Still from English: to Swiss (2006).

Born to a rural farming community in Chivhu on 2 December 1947, Mungoshi has very humble origins and has remained down to earth despite his international stature. Until the time he fell ill recently, he had travelled across Zimbabwe, mentoring young and new writers, sometimes for no fee. Records at the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Women Writers association can bear testimony. He has mentored  or directly influenced  younger writers, among them Ignatius Mabasa, Ruzvidzo Mupfudza, Albert Nyathi, Joice Mutiti, Lawrence Hoba, Chiedza Musengezi, Thabisani Ndlovu, myself and others.  His style of writing has become a brand.  In honor of his amazing ambidexterity and depth, the University of Zimbabwe – conferred an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters-DLitt) on him on Friday 14 November 2003.  
The essence of Mungoshi literature is about grappling with the issues of home, identity and belonging in the changing times. He is constantly asking key questions: Do we truly belong to this land? Is it possible to belong here and elsewhere? What must we change and what exactly must continue and why? Is there any space for the individual in our quest for collective glory? Are we right? Are we wrong? In this quest Mungoshi pens “The Accident” a short story from Coming of the Dry Season which seems to question and challenge the stance of a people living under minority rules – the book lands him in trouble and is banned in Rhodesia only to re-appear later and has been studied in schools ever since. Mungoshi’s writings have also tended to evoke that strong sense of Zimbabweaness.
+By Memory Chirere, Harare
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

'sermon' on the mount

Memory Chirere reading (from Tudikidiki) to a writing workshop audience on top of Chisiya Hill, Zvishavane 2016, October.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Munhu WekuZimbabwe (an extract) by Memory Chirere

Memory Chirere


Kutsvodana kwamuri kuita uku matumwa namufundisi saizvozvi

kwatuma zvakawanda mukati kati mangu iniwo pachangu.

Ndatanga kuvhura mapeji zviya zvinoita vanopengeswa nefundo.

Kutsvodana kwamuri kusimbirira imimi vanhuwe

kwaita ndizwe kuti heya zviye neniwo ndinotoriwo nenyama

neropawo mukati umu zvinopisa samaware masikati aGumiguru?

Muchitotsvodana zvenyu pavanhu zvitsvene tsvenewo saizvozvi

ndotoonawo muchiringwa chero nebete riri pakati perwendo

richitomira kuti riringe iro risati rasvika kuchengo kwariri kuenda.

Muchitosainawo henyu mubhuku rerudo ketekete nepenzura saizvozvi

zvaita kuti nditi heya pasi pano pachiri kuitwa zvibvumirano nhai

zvisinei nekupopoma kwemvura murwizi kana kushaika kwayo?

Ndichidhidha mumazwi emanja anorohwa nevanhu muchitsvodana

ndaramba ndichiona sendakafa kare asi ndichimupenyu kudai

kunge ndiri kutonderwa nevaye vaye vaimbenge vari panyika!

Muchitsvodana kudai matumwa namufundisi anenge gondo

ndatonzwa inzwi rehupenyu hwangu kuti rashoshoma seremushamarari

werwiyo rwusina mudaviri kubva ndaita sendiri kurota pamambakwedza.

Ehe, ndayambuka ndokuona kakokorodzi kapwa hako sekusina kunaya.

Hapasi ipo here apa pataidhidha vakomana nevasikana, ndabvunza?

Ndadairwa nani? Vanhu vemazuvano vachaziva mibvunzo nemhinduro?

Kuita zvako sewakashanya asi uchiri munyika yaamai nababa.

Ndozowana pakadzikira mujecha kuti ndichere nemawoko nyore nyore

kuti ndibate mvura yepasi ndinyavise huro yangu yangoti papata.

Ndadzoka ndokuwana muchitotsvodana ndobva ndaita chadzimira

sezvinoitika ndichimhoresana neshamwari inobva kare kare kwazvo

yobva yanditarisa nepamusoro pehope yangu yashanduka nekurarama.

Ndobva ndatoda kuziva kubva kushamwari iya yakare kuti

dzichiripo kare nzvimbo dziya dziya taienda tose paupwere?

Kusatoziva zvangu kuti chinosara kwenguva ndefu muhwezva

wemhuka ichienda ichimhanya kekupedzisa iro bara riri muhudyu.

Mukati kufa nekushanya zvakanyanyosiyana here nhai veduwe?

Kana zvimapepa zvandainyora sejaya inga wani zvine ingi

asi inenge yanezuro kupenya kwayo ichidudza mazwi andaiveza

ndotoona mazwi andainyora sejaya ndichionawo kupinza

kwainge kwakamboita njere dzangu ndisate ndave kungotenderera saizvozvi.

Pfungwa dzangu dzaimbenge dziri banga chairo rinocheka nyama.

Munzeve ndodzinzwa nziyo dziya dzataiimba vadzidzisi vakabata shamhu

mabhazi achidarika nemutara aine migoro netswanada newaya nemagejo

nemadhiramu kana nembudzi pamusoro pawo akananga kuDande!

Heya muchiripo imi vachati? Muchiri kungotsvodana pamberi pevanhu?

Munozivawo here nhai vana imi kunyura kwezuva madeko richiti

tsvuu sechaimbove chiropa vafudzi vachiti tsiyo tsviyo zvimiridzo

vachindovharira mazimombe anodai kugwedaira setsikombi isingavhevheke?

Heya muchiri kutovsodana zvenyu nanhasi?

Ndanga ndaenda kwandakamboenda nemotokari yangu yandaive nayo

apo tangi rangu ndainge ndazadza ndichienda kusina mapurisa.

Dai kuri kungopera kwemakasa andaichovha zvaive nani.

Uku kupera kwepeturu ndisati ndapedza mitunhu yandaifanira kupedza.

Ehunde, ndiri kunzwa tsvodo dzenyuka idzodzo

nekuyeuka kuti ndigere pano newandakawanana naye gochanhembe

musati mazvarwa nekuti vaizokuzvaraiwo ndivo mazera angu inini.

Mufunge, tichiri vapenyu nekuti hapana kana akafa!

Zvakare kune mbeu dziri kubuda muvhu nyoro riri panze apo

nekuti kuchine zuva rinokudza kana zvinhu zvakaringana saizvozvi.

Ahiwee, penzura yangu yave kupota ichitsvedza iyi!

Ndichazvirega izvozvi zvekungogaronyora izvi

imi muchingotsvodanawo chete muchiroverwa maoko nemhomho

inosanganisira vabereki venyu nehama neshamwari vasinganyare kutarisa.

Naivo havazive kuti tsvodo kusveta derere here kana kuti kuridza muridzo?

Vanenge vanofungawo kuti tsvodo ndirwo rudo nerudo itsvodo.

Dai pfungwa dziri badza dai ndatodirovera padombo mundima ino

kuti rimwe ivhu ridonhe ndiwane kucheka pasi nyore nyore izvozvi

nekuti benzi rino ndizvo zvarinogona chete zvekurima nebadza repfungwa.

Hezvo, muchiriko here uko vachati? Idi, munenge munodanana imi!

Dai ndanga ndauya nekabhotoro kangu ndamboti ka kuti ndidzoke.

Vana ndakabara nemusha ndikavakawo asi ndinoramba ndichinzwa

sekunge ndiri chidzenga chakazvarwa chembere dzabva kudoro.

Ungati hapanawo chandati ndapa vanhu kuti vatambirewo

nemawoko kuti vachengete pakanaka pasingasvike zhizha nechando.

Yaita zvayo mvura yauya kuzodzima tsoka dzako nedzangu.

Njombo dzangu pamukova weimba isina munhu mukati umo

ichapupu chekuti paimbove nemunhu aipfeka chinhu kugumbo.

Chokwadi shoko rose randakataura kupfumbuka here seutsi?

Mati ini ndiende kundosangana neuma here nhaimi vanhu?

Imi musingamire zvenyu kutsvodana matumwa naiye mufundisi?

Muchandipei kuti ndigozoramba ndichikuyeukai kwandinoenda?

Tsvoda aiwa nekuti inoenda nemuridzi wayo ndichisara ndiri ndega.

(naMemory Chirere from Munhu WekuZimbabwe (forthcoming))


















Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Chewing the pen

Memory Chirere. Chewing the pen is a difficult habit to beat...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I am asking for the next poem!

Next poem, Memory Chirere. Asking for the next poem...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Memories from Marechera Oxford Celebrations 2009


Memory Chirere, Tinashe Mshakavanhu (centre) and Brian Chikwava