17 February 2019

Zimbabwe Mourns Mungoshi

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwean author and actor Charles Mungoshi.

Condolence messages have started pouring in for one of Africa's literary gurus Charles Mungoshi, who passed on at the age of 71 after putting up a brave fight for 10 years with a neurological condition.

Mungoshi died yesterday morning at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare where he had been admitted for a week.

He is survived by his wife Jesesi and five children Farai, Graham, Nyasha, Charles and Tsitsi as well as seven grandchildren.

Tributes and messages of condolences started pouring in following confirmation of the death of the revered author yesterday morning.

Former deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara descried lack of support of the creative industry in Zimbabwe.

"A literary giant has fallen. The creative industry, literature and the Zimbabwean nation have lost a pillar. The influence of Mungoshi's work cuts across generations, continents and cultures," Mutambara said.

"He was a distinguished and prolific writer, an iconic author and a national contributor to the world of literature. His works will never die.

"As we mourn him, let us address the contradictions and disconnects in the political economy of the publishing industry, and the creative industry in general, that short-change our artists and writers."

Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry took to social media platform Twitter to pay her tribute to the Coming of the Dry Season author.

"I never met the legend behind the pen, but I loved his books, and many more will too. RIP Charles Mungoshi," Coventry said.

MDC Alliance, through, its spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the nation had lost one of the most prolific writers.

"The leadership of the party and the MDC family at large joins the nation in mourning the death of iconic author Charles Mungoshi," Mafume said.

"The nation is indebted to his contribution in literary consciousness and the education of many Zimbabweans. His works will live beyond his life, which has sadly come to an end. He is a hero of the Zimbabwean flagship; the size of his accolade cabinet speaks to this fact. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mungoshi family in this trying time.

May his soul rest in peace."

Another prolific author, Ignatius Mabasa, said Mungoshi's death was a loss to the literary fraternity.

"It's sad to learn about the death of Charles Muzuva Mungoshi, the most versatile Zimbabwean writer. He was my teacher, my brother and my inspiration. Kunyarara kuye kwazotaura zvinorwadza (that quietness has spoken what pains)!," Mabasa said

Football legend July Sharara, who was part of the mourners yesterday morning, said he was still in shock as he had lost a long-time family friend whose luminary works deserved to be honoured as a hero for the nation.

"He was a prolific and multi-award winning novelist, poet, short story writer and actor who was internationally celebrated," he said.

Meanwhile, family spokesperson Tendai Madondo said Mungoshi had been unwell for some time.

"About six months ago his health deteriorated quite significantly as he became immobilised and unable to speak," she said.

"He had been battling a debilitating neurological condition for about 10 years. While he was mobile and able to speak he was paralysed on one side and doctors struggled to find out what it was until they discovered that he has water in his brain and it caused some seizures."

Madondo took time to extol the role played by Jesesi in support of her husband at his time of great need.

"Mai Mungoshi has fought a very good fight, she has been a typical supportive wife who in the face of such debilitating illness has remained strong and faithful by supporting her husband to get the best medical attention," she said.

Madondo said it was sad that Mungoshi had passed on while the family had a lot of projects that they were working on with him, which were not yet complete like the launch of a the movie based on the novel Makunun'unu Maodza Moyo.

Details about funeral arrangements were not yet available at the time of going to print.

"We are still waiting for his side of the family to arrive from Chivhu so that they can agree on the funeral arrangements, we are just waiting to hear where the burial will be," Madondo said.

Mungoshi published 18 books, which include Waiting for the Rain (1975), Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva (1975), Makunun'unu Maodza Moyo (1970), The Milkman Doesn't Only Deliver Milk (1981), Inongova Njake Njake (1980), Coming of the Dry Season (1972) and Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness (2013).

He won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize of Best Book in Africa twice and was subsequently invited to meet the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth.

One of his poems was curatted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a permanent display as public art at their new headquarters in Washington.

In 2003 he was conferred an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Zimbabwe, after winning multiple awards which included Zimbabwe's 75 best books where he appeared in the top five lists in both Shona and English categories.

Mourners are gathered at Number 47 Uta Crescent in Zengeza 1, Chitungwiza.

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