Community Development Opinions

Charles Mungoshi: The People’s Writer and Doyen of Zimbabwean Literature

Charles Mungoshi

By Mbizo Chirasha

Time is the healer and Time is also the killer. Seconds grow fat into minutes. Minutes wax into hours. Hours melt into days , days lay their eggs into weeks. Weeks hatch themselves into months. Months bark into dog’s years. Today, we remember the departed literary giant, Charles Mungoshi.

Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva and we are Walking Still, while we all Wait for the Coming of Dry Season Zimbabwe woye, Yangova njake njake.Ipo pachikomo cheManhize For the Milkman is not delivering milk only. Zvaari Makunun’unu maodza moyo . Lucifer Mandengu has taken away our literary giant.

We are licking some kinds of wounds. Asi Kunyarara hakusi kutaura. Let’s write a letter to our sons while waiting for the rain We warn them that Dotito remains and still our brother. The great literary giant has fallen. The doyen of storytelling s tongue is now silenced by harsh tongs of death. Dr. Charles Muzuva Mungoshi is no more.

Go well African Writer Patriot and Great Literary Cadre CHARLES MUZUVA MUNGOSHI .Death is greed. Its vulture’s claw like wings have since flown away another literary hero from us. Unwavering African literary patriot. Resilient son of the soil. African human, whose earth was made of words, verses and riddles. Internationally acclaimed author, Writer of global stead CHARLES MUZUVA MUNGOSHI is no more.

He is now walking in the valleys of time as his footsteps pioneer in the path to heaven as he did on earth with his literary prowess and creative excellence. Manyene is not flowing today, it is gushing tears of loss . Manhize hills are wailing .Their trees and rodents are sobbing the fall of the great literary rock Charles Muzuva Mungoshi.

The sun has not risen it has set. The rain clouds are ugly and sad today. The cloud of death hung loosely over Zimbabwe like a suspended axe on a baobab trunk. Who then shall crack our ribs with Makunununu maodza moyo. I had the blessing of working with Great Writer Charles Muzuva Mungoshi at the Budding Writers Association Offices in Harare.

He was our Head Creative Workshop Facilitator Consultant and the Writer in Residence of the organisation from 2001-2004. I later toured Sweden with him in 2003 as Literary Delegates of the Zimbabwean International Book Fair popularising the 100 Best Books of AFRICA .We held talks, readings and book launches in Goteborg, Uppsala and Stockholm.

VaMungoshi your sudden passing coincides with our BRAVE VOICES POETRY JOURNAL Volume 60 call of Celebrating African Voices/ African Writer and as a poets we are going to give a befitting farewell and tribute through our forthcoming Brave Voices Poetry Journal : AFRICAN WRITER . Dr . Charles Muzuva Mungoshi , a prolific story teller , prominent Zimbabwean writer , award winning author , editor and publisher gave out his last breath on this earth of words and sun and moon during the twilight of dawn of the 16th February 2019.

Surely death is the bride of every home. The country woke up drenched with the dew of the shocking news of the death of our celebrated 71 year old literary griot . Mungoshi was born in 1947 in Manyene Tribal Trust lands near Chivhumudhara around Chikomba area . Charles and his parents cut their lives out of the soil. He grew up in a peasantry community.

Like other peasant boys of rural Zimbabwe in the brutal days of former Rhodesian regime. The uniqueness of this unmatched great pathway chatter and revolutionary pacesetter is that he cooked rough experiences, poverty, family feuds, rain, drought, hunger and gruelling lifestyles into readable literature and word matter that revolutionised the lives of many learners, readers and writers in the global community.

All his gruelling, rural, poverty and colonial experiences were roasted into eye opening humour, insightful satire, sharp irony and thought provoking metaphors. Dr Mungoshi was funny loving, humorous and he respected his drink mostly Nokolai and Vodka gulps. “Castle is for man with women heart.”

He said jokingly one of those sunny days in Budding Writers Association Offices where he worked with us as our Chief Consultant and Writers in Residence. At BWAZ, we traversed with him in all provinces of rural Zimbabwe facilitating writers and poetry workshops. After a few drinks, he always had this to say , “Mufanami, I was born in the year of locusts, gore rehwiza, unodya hwiza here chikomana?” He was ever laughing.

We shared a half Chateau Brandy at the Airport Lounge in 2003. I was selected to accompany him and the Book Fair staff to Sweden to market the 100 BEST BOOKS AFRICA in Sweden. Our tour began at the Goteborg International Book Fair( SIDA AFRICAN PAVILION), Nordic African Institute, Rinkeby Library and other profound venues.

His Swedish version of Walking still was launched by Tranan publishers in Sweden. He created and shaped the creative fire in me . I grew up to love him, respect him and regard him as my godfather, teacher and father. David Mungoshi an academic and a writer had introduced my page poetry some years before I met Charles.

I respect the Mungoshi tribe with my heart. Ironically I had met Charles Mungoshi in the Ventures of English text book during primary days through his beautiful poem. LETTER TO A SON, Now the pumpkin is ripe. We are only a few days from the year’s first mealie cob. The cows are giving us lots of milk.

Taken in the round it isn’t a bad year at all – if it weren’t for your father. Your father’s back is back again and all the work has fallen on my shoulders. Your little brothers and sisters are doing fine at the day-school. Only Rindai is becoming a problem. You will remember we wrote to you – did you get our letter? – you didn’t answer.

You see, since your father’s back started we haven’t been able to raise enough money to send your sister Rindai to secondary school. She spends most of her time crying by the well. It is mainly because of her that I am writing this letter. I had thought you would be with us last Christmas; then I thought maybe you were too busy and you would make it at Easter – it was then your father nearly left us, son.

Then I thought I would come to you some time before the cold season settled in – you know how I simply hate that time of the year – but then your father went down again and this time worse than any other time before. We were beginning to think he would never see another sowing season. I asked your sister Rindai to write you but your father would have none of it – you know how stubborn he can get when he has to lie in bed all day or gets one of those queer notions of his that everybody is deserting him! Now, Tambu, don’t think I am asking for money – although we had to borrow a little from those who have it to get your father to hospital – and you know how he hates having to borrow! That is all I wanted to tell you. I do hope that you will be with us this July. It’s so long ago now since we last heard from you – I hope this letter finds you still at the old address. It is the only address we know. YOUR MOTHER”

His books , poetry and stories made peasant lifestyle interesting, humorous and stunning. He had his own of shaping characters in his stories. Remember Garabha and Lucifer in Waiting for the Rain . I can’t forget the vitriol that was spewed from the lips of Mandirowesa in Makununu Maodza moyo.

Conflict and mounting tension was profound in his stories. His stories were satirically set in small spaces homes while pregnant and fat with hefty political messages. . He was brilliant chronicler of life events and people. After completing his high school, Mungoshi worked as a clerk with Zimbabwe Forestry Commission before undertaking editorial jobs with Longman, Zimbabwe PUBLISHING HOUSE and the defunct Literature Bureau where he edited and published a lot other writers from Zimbabwe and abroad.

He birthed his own short stories, novels and poetry that won international literary accolades and special mentions inclusive of the Commonwealth Writers Award , the Noma Award, the Booker Prize, Zimbabwe Writers AWARD. Mungoshi is a true doyen of African literature. He is the class of Chinua Achebe, Shimmer CHINODYA, Tsitsi Dangarembgwa, Yvonne Vera, Freedom Nyamubaya, Chenjerai Hove, Dambudzo Marechera, Ngugi and many great writers in Zimbabwe, Africa and beyond.

Dr Mungoshi slid into a neurological condition that disturbed his life and career since 2010 and we are today all of us weeping and celebrating his unforgettable and illustrious career. Dreams well lived. Go well literary giant. Through your books, your stories, your trials and tribulations great writers, leaders, teachers and readers were born. Great presidents and queens read and learnt from your street stories . Sleep with pride VaMungoshi . Your legacy remains and your writings remain our inspiration yesterday, today and tomorrow.

MBIZO CHIRASHA is the 2019 International Fellow (literary activism) of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa New York (IHRAF2019). Recipient of Global Literary Influencer Certificate of Merit by Directorio Mundial de Escritores through Academia Mundial de Literatura, Historia, Arte y Cultura (2018). Recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017) Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer. Recipient of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund (2017). Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe. Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. Curator of the MiomboPublishing and Brave Voices Poetry Journal

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende