Zimbabwe Literature

By | June 2, 2022

The fragmented literary picture of the territory that from 1980, with independence, took the name of Zimbabwe is a mirror of the historical events of the country, marked by the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century. and by the numerous conflicts between local populations, especially between Shona and Ndebele, starting from the 19th century, for territorial hegemony. The English entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902) prevailed over all of them who, from 1888, with a commercial agreement in the name of the British South African Company, subjected the country, rich in resources, which later took the name from him (Rhodesia).

If the best known literature is that in English, the first important works came out in shona and traced the history of this group threatened by internal and external enemies, as is evident in the historical novel Feso (1956) by Solomon Mutswairo (1924-2005) and in the epic poem Soko risiva musoro (1958, Tale without a head) by Herbert Chitepo (1923-1975). National history is also at the center of English-language fiction, including Stanlake JVT Samkange’s celebrated On trial for my country (1966) (19221988) and The coming of the dry season. (1972) by Charles Mungoshi (1947). It is still history that can be read in filigree in the exaltation of the landscape that Musaemura B. Zimunya (b.1947) puts into verse, as well as, more recently and explicitly, in the production of Chenjerai Hove (b.1956), in exile since 2001.

According to topschoolsintheusa, the best known among the writers of the Zimbabwe is, however, Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1988), a student at Oxford, from which he was expelled, and a wanderer in London, whose visionary and cryptically modernist writing, testified by the poems but above all by the novel autobiographical The house of hunger (1978), cannot be ascribed to traditional stylistic elements. With an urban setting, but strongly symbolic despite its merciless realism, Marechera’s work has become a model for many young African writers. Equally representative is Tsitsi Dangarembga that with Nervous conditions (1988; trans. It. Nerve Conditions, 1991) produced one of the key texts of contemporary postcoloniality. Permeated by pre- and post-independence history, but framed in a feminine perspective, the work of Yvonne Vera (1954-2005), who lived for a long time in Canada and returned to Zimbabwe shortly before her death, reworked the recorded horrors in a lyrical key. from history. His novels, including Nehanda (1993), Under the tongue (1997), burning Butterfly (2000; trans. It. The fire and the Butterfly, 2002) and The Stone Virgins (2002; trans. It. The virgins of rocks, 2004), have been translated into many languages ​​and awarded in Zimbabwe and abroad.

With a predominantly grotesque vein, the new writers have taken up the lessons of the generation that preceded them to re-read the tragic history that led to the current economic and cultural collapse of the country, which is why most of them reside abroad.: this is the case of Brian Chikwava (b. 1972), transplanted to London where he set his novel Harare North (2010); by No Violet Bulawayo (b. 1981) who from the United States entered the list for the Booker prize with We need new names (2013; trans. It. There is a need for new names, 2014); by Tendai Huchu (b. 1982), resident in Scotland and award-winning for The hairdresser of Harare (2010; trad. it. The hairdresser of Harare, 2014) or Christopher Mlalazi, of which Running with mother (2012; trad. It. Rudo’s escape towards the Phezulu mountains, 2014) should be noted.


Together with the Republic of South Africa, the former Southern Rhodesia (independent since 1980) is the only Southern African state to feature major cinematography, made by both white and black filmmakers.

A central role was played by Michael Raeburn, author of fundamental films such as Rhodesia countdown (1970), in which the last days of English domination and the beginning of the guerrilla are caught with a satirical gaze; The grass is singing (1982), which describes a white woman’s discovery of rural life in the days of apartheid; Jit (1990), the story of the vicissitudes of a teenager who arrives in town in search of his musician brother and falls in love with a girl; and finally Home sweet home (1999, co-written by his wife Heidi Draper), a splendid family home movie and the narration of a journey between Paris, Boston and the Zimbabwe which brings back personal and social memories. In the first period of Z’s cinematographic history there are also works by other directors,

In addition to Raeburn, a prominent place belongs to Ingrid Sinclair, who settled in the Zimbabwe since 1985. Hers is also a cinema (often in the form of a documentary) linked to memory, which revealed itself to be openly political with Flame (1996), the first feature film made by the director and set among the guerrillas fighting for freedom. With her husband, director Simon Bright, Sinclair founded the production company Zimmedia. Other filmmakers who contributed to the creation of the Z cinema were Godwin Mawuru, Farai Sevenzo, Isaac Meli Mabhikwa, Manu Kurewa. With Neria (1992), a melodrama with unforgettable female figures, Mawuru directed the 1990s film with the greatest impact made in the country. Sevenzo’s Rwendo (1993) is set in Cape Town and tells the fate of a white settler and a black South African. More time (1993) by Meli Mabhikwa is a slender educational comedy about how to prevent AIDS. Kurewa has divided his filmography between Great Britain (Sugar for my honey, 1995; One Sunday morning, 1996) and Zimbabwe (Mangwana, 1997), telling stories of confrontation and racial contamination. In the capital Harare, the Southern takes place every two years. African Film Festival, one of the major cinematographic events on the continent.

Zimbabwe Literature