BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO/ WINSTONE ANTONIO
The Zimbabwe Writers Association (ZWA), through the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), has petitioned government to declare the late prolific and multi-award-winning writer Charles Mungoshi a national hero in recognition of his immense contribution to the development of local literature.
The literary guru passed on at the age of 71 at Parirenyatwa Hospital after putting up a decade-long fight against a neurological condition.
He is survived by his wife Jesesi and five children Farai, Graham, Nyasha, Charles and Tsitsi as well as seven grandchildren.
Mungoshi’s body will leave Harare this morning for his rural Manyene in Chivi ahead of the burial tomorrow.
Mungoshi’s death came barely a month after international music icon Oliver Mtukudzi succumbed to diabetes.
In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style, ZWA chairperson Monica Zodwa Cheru-Mupambwashe said her association approached the NACZ the day Mungoshi passed on requesting it to
forward their petition to the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.
“In my capacity as the Zimbabwe Writers Association chairperson, I formally communicated the request to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe on Saturday. I would personally want to see Charles Mungoshi recognised at such levels,” she said.
“His writings are a valuable, intangible cultural heritage in so far as he captured facets of our traditions, the changes wrought by time and made us question our definition of our self-identity with characters like his iconic Lucifer.”
Cheru-Mupambwashe said Mungoshi was part of a generation that put Zimbabwe’s book writing industry on the world map having created the Zimbabwe International Book Fair and made it a continental force at the time.
NACZ executive director Nicholas Moyo, who confirmed to have been approached by ZWA, said necessary paperwork had been done as of Saturday night and was going to be submitted to the responsible authorities as of yesterday (Sunday) morning.
“ZWA engaged me on the matter and after consultation with the family, the process was initiated. All relevant paperwork was done last night and the Ministry of Youth, Sport,
Arts and Recreation was advised yesterday,” he said.
“The submission is being done this morning (yesterday). Dr Charles Mungoshi was a hero and his legacy lives on. Any conferment of a hero status will only be an endorsement and great honour.”
On micro-globing site, Twitter, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry said: “I never met the legend behind the pen, but I loved his books, and many more
will too. Rest in peace Charles Mungoshi.”
Mungoshi’s family spokesperson, Tendai Madondo also described the late author as a hero, with or without any conferment of such a status by government.
“He is our hero. Whether he gets national hero status or not. If he does that would be very much appreciated. We have seen the journey of a hero, Charles, from the 70s up until the time of his departure,” she said.
“He was sick for 10 years from a debilitating neurological condition and he suffered through it with dignity. That is what a hero does. He is our hero. Whatever is decided we appreciate. We appreciate the journey that he walked.”
Some creatives who spoke to NewsDay Life & Style yesterday said Mungoshi had left a big void in the arts industry that will be challenging to fill.
Former NACZ director, Elvas Mari said he remains hopeful that Mungoshi’s passing on would give birth to legacy foundations that will immortalise the cry for more serious support for the growth of literature and the arts in Zimbabwe.
“The Mungoshi family, the writers community as well as the whole of Zimbabwe have lost an icon and legend who was a humble, jovial and extremely sociable person. I was
privileged to have worked closely with the family from the time he fell ill up to date. The family honoured me by asking me to be a trustee of the Mungoshi Trust,” he said.
“I first knew Mungoshi through his books, but came to know him when I joined the Literature Bureau where he had served as editor with distinction. Dr Mungoshi was extremely gifted in both writing and editing. Many of the Shona novels of the 80s were edited by Dr Mungoshi.”
Jibilika Dance Trust founder and arts promoter, Plot Mhako described Mungoshi as someone who fought the liberation war with his pen by speaking for the voiceless in pre-
“Charles Mungoshi’s great literary works speak volumes about his achievements and impact, a legacy that will forever be remembered and treasured. He was a giant who was never shy to celebrate his heritage and language through books that taught millions of schoolchildren. Such is a life that will always be celebrated,” he said.
Arts critic Benjamin Nyandoro said: “Zimbabwe prides high literacy levels attributed to a combination of many different pieces, Charles Mungoshi is one indelible piece whose works has inspired many.”
Music management and marketing company, Jive Zimbabwe director Sam Mhlanga, said Mungoshi deserves honour and recognition for his work and contribution to Zimbabwe’s literary community.
“A refined author of more than 18 books, Mungoshi’s works will continue to influence generations to come considering that they are part of literature material in schools and higher learning institutions across the world,” he said.
“Mungoshi’s works that spanned over two decades influenced Zimbabwe and the world’s literary culture as he tackled societal issues, bringing solutions and change.”
Mungoshi published 18 books which include Makunun’unu Maodza Moyo (1970), Coming of the Dry Season (1972), Waiting for the Rain (1975), Inongova Njake Njake (1980) and
Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness (2013).
He twice won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize of Best Book in Africa and as a result was invited to meet the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth. One of his poems was curated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2011 as a permanent display in Seattle, Washington in the United States of America.
In 2003, he was conferred an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Zimbabwe having won multiple awards, which included Zimbabwe’s 75 best books where he was in the top five lists in both Shona and English categories.