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Zimbabwe loses gifted writer Chingono


Acclaimed writer and poet Julius Sekai Chingono has died. He was 65.

Chingono died on Sunday evening at Norton Hospital after a short illness, in a development that has shocked the writing community in Zimbabwe.

Chingono was a board member of Writers’ International Network Zimbabwe (Win-Zimbabwe) and served as a resource person at various local and international authors’ forums, including the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2004.

Writers who attended the Win-Zimbabwe Writers End of Year Get Together on December 11 will recall a healthy Chingono rendering his humorous poem called Dai, a ridicule of after-thoughts. Amabooks Publishers, who were recently involved in a project with the writer, have expressed shock at Chingono’s death.

Irene Staunton of Weaver Press, publishers of Chingono’s story and poetry anthology, Not Another Day in 2006, said: “It is very hard for me to believe, really.”

Writers International Network Zimbabwe, which he served as board member, said they have lost a dedicated guide and true father.

A sensitive poet, sometimes humorous, Chingono was born on a commercial farm in 1946, and went to Mabvuku High School and Nyatsime College in Chitungwiza.

He worked for most of his life on the mines as a blaster.

He had his poetry published in several anthologies of Shona poetry including Nhetembo, Mabvumira eNhetembo and Gwenyambira between 1968 and 1980.

His only novel, Chipo Changu, was published in 1978, an award-winning play, Ruvimbo, was published in 1980.

His poetry in English has also been published in several South African and Zimbabwean anthologies including Flags of Love (Mireza yerudo) (1983) and Flag of Rags (1996). He has contributed to Poetry International in the Netherlands.

Julius was published in Writing Still (2003), Writing Now (2005) and Laughing Now (2007), Intwasa Poetry (2008) and State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry (The Conversation Paperpress, 2009, UK). Chingono, who will be buried today, is survived by his wife, four children and five grandchildren.

Mourners are gathered at House Number 12457, Katanga, in Norton.

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