The Icon That Was -Dambudzo Marechera

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The growth and development of Arts and culture in Africa is owed to the many icons that exposed the world to the explosive talent that our continent holds.Through all kinds of art be it sculpting, writing ,music,dancing and many more these icons have managed to accomplish greatness .They have been a great influence and inspiration not only here at home but on a global scale.It is therefore important for us to remember the great achievements and to teach the younger generation of these legends .With this in mind each Thursday TKnews will be giving our readers a new series titled “The Icon That Was”.Each week we will remember a different legend .

An image of Marechera

This week ‘s idol is non other than the genius writer Dambudzo Marechera.The Zimbabwean writer was born Charles William Marechera on the 4th of June 1952 in Vhengere Rusape .He went to St Augustine for his high school education ,the university of Rhodesia and later Oxford university in Britain.The writer got scholarships to all three institutions .He was not one to shy away from addressing social injustices that were occurring at that time .At St Augustines he was constantly in arguments with teachers over what he described as a colonial syllabus. He organised a protest against racial discrimination at the University of Rhodesia in 1972 which led to his expulsion.He also got expelled from the university of Oxford in 1976 due to his froward behavior and also he tried to set the university on fire.He led a reckless life and eventually was arrested for possession of marijuana and deported back to Zimbabwe where he eventually died.In his last days, the writer was sick ,alone and all he owned was a typewriter and a suitcase of books.


Why then call him a legend ?You might ask.Here is why…Marechera in his short life time achieved what many writers who have written for much longer have failed to achieve.His first book , ‘The house of hunger’ was published two years after his disappointing expulsion. It contained nine short stories which described not only his tragic childhood but also the life of a young Zimbabwean living with the trauma that the colonial era exposed him to .Another Zimbabwean writer Dr Tinashe Mushakavanhu in an article about the book described it as a prophetic novel that predicted the problems of modern day Zimbabwe.The book won The Guardian Fiction Prize in 1979.He was the first African ever to win that award.

The author ‘s second published book

His second book ‘Black sunlight ‘ was published in 1980.His literature in the book was compared to great writers like Henry Miller although it was not as successful as his previous book.The book was banned in Zimbabwe because it was “obscene” and “blasphemous “.Marechera truly had a way with his words and yes the book was rather graphic , however several people in the world of literature suspected that the ban was due to the fact that the book portrayed the subversion of the nationalist discourse of resistance in the country.Marechera showed an intense hatred towards violence in the book and expressed a rather different opinion concerning the liberation war.The ban was later lifted.

Other books written by the author include ‘Mind Blast’ ,’Cemetry of minds’,’The Black Insider’ which discusses the African Identity among other issues.Some of his books were published after his death which occurred in 1987 .He was only 35 years old.

Three decades later many people still show great interest in his art.And his fan base continues to grow as more young people relate and find inspiration in his work.Till this day Dambudzo Marechera can be said to be one of the greatest authors to have come out of Zimbabwe .With his fans even going to the extent of calling him Zimbabwe ‘s own Shakespeare .As a fan of the man myself it seems to me that just an article can never do justice to how great the icon that was Dambudzo Marechera was and how greatly he contributed to Zimbabwean literature.His legacy will never be forgotten.


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