NOBEL laureate author Doris Lessing, who died at the age of 94 in London on Sunday, has been described as a woman who had a heart for Zimbabwe and once donated $1,3 million towards the provision of books to local schools.
One of the people to have worked with Lessing in Zimbabwe, Tember Percy Banda said he was moved by her acceptance speech after winning the Nobel Prize where she spoke at length of the challenges Zimbabwe was facing.
Banda is now the deputy chair of the Harare Distribution Committee.
“In 2008, while reading a Sunday broadsheet, the Sunday Times, I read that Doris had been conferred with the Nobel Prize in Literature. What was even more moving for me was her acceptance speech in which she highlighted the struggles that the ruck and folk in Zimbabwe were going through during an era of record-breaking inflation, mass exodus of skilled Zimbabweans, socio-political turmoil, a cholera epidemic that claimed thousands of innocent lives, the story goes on,” Banda said.
“I was humbled to hear that Doris donated her entire prize money of over $1 300 000 to the provision of books to Zimbabwean schools.
“After following up with (publisher) Harper Collins USA, followed by the UK division, I was referred to Book Aid International who confirmed the donation and referred me to their representatives in Zimbabwe, the Harare Distribution Committee. Interestingly, the incumbent chairman at the time and his team were not aware of Doris Lessing’s generous gift. The rest is history: I am now the deputy chair of the Harare Distribution Committee and am enjoying every moment of it.”
Lessing’s best-known works include The Golden Notebook, Memoirs of a Survivor and The Summer Before the Dark.
She became the oldest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature when in 2007 she won the award for her life’s work at age 88.
The author is survived by her daughter Jean and granddaughters Anna and Susannah.
Born in what is now Iran, she moved to Zimbabwe — then Southern Rhodesia — as a child before settling in England in 1949.
Her debut novel The Grass is Singing was published in 1950 and she made her breakthrough with The Golden Notebook in 1962.