Juliet Chingono, widow of the late well-known writer and poet, Julius Sekai Chingono, has urged writers to continue writing and thanked them for remembering her husband whom she said used to carry his notebook and pen everywhere he went.
She was speaking at a touching commemoration of Julius Chingono’s life and works held on Wednesday evening, at the Harare’s Theatre in the Park.
“Thank you for remembering my husband, and keep writing. I still come across some of Julius’ little notes in the house because he used to walk with his pen and notebook everywhere he went,” she said.
Juliet, who was in the company of two other relatives, went on to thank the Embassy of Spain, organisers of the commemoration which saw established and new writers, poets, publishers, actors, friends and relatives celebrate Chingono through moving performances and anecdotes.
Speaking at the same event the Ambassador of Spain, Pilar Fuertes Ferragut, said she was overwhelmed by the response the embassy got when it called for contributions of works and ideas for the Chingono commemoration.
“I am glad Chingono is still being honoured.
“What I liked about Chingono was his sensitivity, his humour, and his gift of words. Chingono spoke his mind and therefore became the voice of the weak,” she said.
Veteran actor, producer and ex-editorial officer of the Literature Bureau, Walter Lambert Muparutsa, said he met Chingono when the writer was staying in Mabvuku in the 1960s.
Muparutsa recalled when Chingono brought a poem titled My Old Shoe to the Literature Bureau where a British editorial officer advised him to translate it into Shona.
This, Muparutsa said, reflected the bias of the literature as an institution that cast linguistic precincts for local writers.
The poem had been broadcast on BBC and received tremendous comments.
“Chingono was a keen observer of life around him. You could sense his spirituality in what he wrote. He was a simple and ordinary person, but you would only know he was extraordinary after you had read his works,” said Muparutsa, who added that it would be good to translate Chingono’s English works into Shona so many people could enjoy his stories.
Various artists recalled humorous moments they shared with Chingono at home or on tour outside the country and how true it became, as in the lines of Fungai Machirori’s poem she recited: “Grief is not a thief-it is the stolen.”
Poets who took part in the remembrance event were each presented with a copy of Chingono’s book Not Another Day, courtesy of the Spanish embassy.
Born in 1946, Chingono, who belonged to various artist organisations, was also a board member of a new writers’ organisation called Writers International Network Zimbabwe.
He passed on in Norton early January last year after a short illness.
Chingono’s latest work is the posthumously published anthology titled Together which he co-authored with poet John Eppel.