WE mourn the sad passing away of one of Zimbabwe’s literary luminaries, Dr Charles Mungoshi.
His literary works were first introduced to me by Dr Tony Monda.
Mungoshi’s literary genius lay in his ability to address the concerns of the ordinary man, set in the milieu of township life in contrast to the idyllic, yet constrained and limited life of the rural experience.
Poet, playwright and novelist, Dr Mungoshi was born in Manyene, near Chivu, in December 1947.
He was the first born in a family of eight.
His early childhood followed the traditional pattern of herding cattle by day and listening to fireside stories, mainly told by his grandmother, at night, who was to feature as Mandisa in his award-wining novel Waiting for The Rain.
Dr Mungoshi studied at Saint Augustine’s Mission near Penhalonga, in the Eastern Highlands, which historically was the first mission school in the country (Rhodesia), which opened in 1939, to provide secondary education for Africans.
He became a prolific writer and social commentator who encompassed, in his short stories, plays and novels, written lucidly in both English and Shona, the condition of the African in pre and post-colonial Zimbabwe.
In 1985, Mungoshi was appointed writer-in-residence at the University of Zimbabwe.
In his Novel Waiting for The Rain, Mungoshi articulates the psychological and socio-cultural conflicts that beleaguered the subjugated African society of pre-independent Zimbabwe, where culture, heritage and identity were subsumed by an enforced colonial system.
It stands out as one of the most comprehensive and incisive novels to articulate the African condition.
His novels Waiting for the Rain and Ndika Kupindana Kwamazuva won the PEN Award in 1977 and 1981, respectively.
Perhaps his greatest strength was in exposing the absurdity of the socio-political condition and cultural conflicts experienced by the Zimbabwean placed under a condition of dominant extraneous colonial forces.
For anyone who has not reflected on the current state of being and the condition that determine our destiny, Dr Mungoshi’s underlying philosophical slant brought to life the need for Africans to re-determine their destinies.
He shed light on the absurdity of foreign claims to African destiny.
In wry and simple prose, he made us aware of the forces; subtle and calculated system of colonial forces and its effect on the ordinary African.
According to Dr Rino Zhuwarara in Coming of the Dry Season: “Mungoshi emerges as a competent short story writer notable for the meticulousness and precision with which he renders the impressions, moods, anxieties and feelings of characters whose spirit to live is constantly worn down by a harsh and often inhospitable colonial environment. Both the countryside and city expose the vulnerability of African people who are part of a society whose own identity, values and beliefs are slowly being undermined by the colonial context in which Western culture has become dominant.
Mungoshi is a master in marrying an intimate unassuming tone to a deft, ironic style which relentlessly exposes the vulnerability of those who lived the life of the wretched of the earth”
Amongst his memorable volumes are: Coming of The Dry Season (1972); Waiting for The Rain (1975); Some Kinds of Wounds and Other Stories (1980) as well as Walking Still (1997).
Other publications include the anthology The Milkman Does Not Only Deliver Milk and the play Inongova Njake Njake.
In his literary works, Dr Mungoshi captured the responses and survival techniques the indigenous African employed to cope with the over-bearing challenges of colonisation.
The reclamation of land was a central theme throughout his literary works.
His was a Chimurenga in words!
It is with profound grief that I pen this obituary.
The nation of Zimbabwe has lost a literary meteor and man of the people.
Zororayi murugare sekuru Mungoshi!
Dr Michelina Rudo Andreucci is a Zimbabwean-Italian researcher, industrial design consultant lecturer and specialist interior decorator. She is a published author in her field. For comments e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org