Who is summoning our gods? The late Charles Mungoshi

Leroy Dzenga Features Writer
The tracks and footprints in Kasimbwi are still fresh. Even the earth in Madziwa is yet to fully comprehend the stature of the man who was preserved within its depths.

Zimbabwe is yet to process the loss that it endured when Oliver Mtukudzi entered the ethereal world where gods like him truly belong.

After his lengthy and well-laboured musical life providing a soundtrack for each situation life can present, he rested. Begrudgingly, we started the healing process, forcing ourselves to ignore the pain of the robbery and choosing to celebrate his life.

Unfortunately, the spotlight was yet to shift from Zimbabwe. A life situation Oliver Mtukudzi provided a soundtrack in 1993 presented itself 24 days after his own departure.

Jesesi Mungoshi, who played Neria a troubled widow in the self titled film, lost her husband shortly after the man who penned a song that accompanied the motion picture died.

To Jesesi, Charles was a husband, to Charles Jnr and his siblings a father and to the rest of Zimbabwe a literary deity. He was a man whose pen raised us, writers and literary romantics.

Printing books has had environmentalists up in their arms, but I am convinced if they could speak, trees would volunteer to have Mungoshi’s words printed on them.

Even if I were a tree, I would have preferred to meet my end carrying the first page in Mungoshi’s Waiting for the rain.

The most endearing fact about Mungoshi was his ability to write smoothly in both Shona and English. Even the only person who was worthy of comparison with him, Dambudzo Marechera failed to exhibit such ingenuity.

The same hand that gave the world Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva is the same hand that penned The Milkman Does Not Only Deliver Milk.

In Zimbabwe, there are mortal writers and there was Charles Mungoshi. Unfortunately, the earth is dealing with a jealous competitor who prefers to pick from the premium basket.

Sadly, the loss is always greater for us because we are a nation notorious for giving people roses when they can no longer smell them.

Glowing tributes will rightfully be written of how prolific Mungoshi was, but for a while he had been in bad health and very few stretched their hands in support of the veteran writer.

A man who gifted the world with 18 full manuscripts, with the latest being Branching Streams Flow in the Dark which was towards the end of his life sold to help the family with finances.

Right now we are a nation whose hearts have been pierced twice in quick succession. Perhaps the most affected from the biggest dual robbery in Zimbabwean art is Jesesi Mungoshi.

It is almost as if the song Neria was ominous.

If only Tuku was still among us, this would be the appropriate time for him to strum his guitar compassionately assuring Jesesi that heavens are watching over her.

Oliver Mtukudzi

But the music was left for us, the whole country will sing with their hearts collectively assuring the Mungoshi family that God is with them.

The past decade has not been easy for them, as the award winning author was battling ill-health.

Although he rests, he leaves us with an eternal lens through which we will interpret our realities. From Mungoshi`s words, we will see the world through his clean but conscious perspective.

A perspective that earned him a description by novelist Tim McLoughlin as “Zimbabwe’s most substantial writer not least because he offers such a penetrating and complex image of the fragmentation of Shona society brought about by years of colonial domination.”

One feels there is a list of brilliant Zimbabwean creatives being called out with unrelenting cruelty. How can we mourn Charles Mungoshi and Oliver Mtukudzi within a month? Is there someone tasked with summoning our gods?

It appears the earth is losing the tug of war, plucking the most colourful of roses the country has on offer. Who is conspiring against the motherland? If we could converse with them, we would beg them to leave our gods for us.

For, like any other rational people, we can’t keep giving away souls that raised the standard of what it means to be a consistently brilliant Zimbabwean.

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