MORE than three decades after his death, Dambudzo Marechera dominates the literary discourses as much as he did in real life.
This week, his lover and custodian of his legacy, Flora Veit-Wild, Emeritus Professor of African Literature at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, will be part of 2020 LitFest (Literature Festival) Harare.
Her contribution will centre on her latest book, They Called You Dambudzo, an exploration of her relationship with Marechera. From her Berlin base, Veit-Wild will discuss the book with Zimbabwean writer, Chiedza Musengezi, who is based in the United Kingdom.
The conversation is part of the proceedings of this year’s LitFest, running from Wednesday this week through to Saturday.
This year’s LitFest will be held virtually but with a few in-person events, owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Veit-Wild lived in Harare from 1983 until 1993. It was during that period that she met and became lovers with Marechera. They had “an intense, personal and sexual relationship”, which the new book explores.
While she spent a decade in Zimbabwe, Veit-Wild has been a regular visitor, returning to retrace her steps and as a regular participant at the annual Zimbabwe International Book Fair.
A founding member of the Zimbabwe Women Writers (ZWW) Veit-Wild became literary executor and biographer of Marechera, who died in Harare in August 1987.
Chirikure Chirikure, the LitFest director, says the LitFest events will be streamed online, featuring discussions, readings, recitations and performances by various local and international participants.
Referencing Covid-19, Chirikure says: “The pandemic has also had a lot of ripple effects in societies and households around the globe.
“As such, the festival will focus on issues related to violence and peace transformation. Art, and literature in particular, has to contribute to the dialogue around social challenges and their effect.
“The ability to stay firm under difficult conditions and to interrogate the challenges, are the stamina that keep us going. The passion and purpose to create works is noble because our art will live forever, and help shape the future.”
The festival is running under the theme, “Ars Longa, Vita Brevis” — the Latin for Art is long but life is short.
LitFest Harare is an annual festival that celebrates literature, arts and culture, by bringing together authors, artists, academics, students and members of the public to share knowledge, collaborate, as well as showcase and enjoy talent.