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Zim writers mourn Hove

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AWARD-winning novelist, poet and essayist Chenjerai Hove, who wrote regular columns for various publications including The Zimbabwe Independent in the early 2000s, has died. He was 59.

BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

A fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly autocratic rule, Hove died of liver failure on Sunday afternoon in self-imposed exile in Norway where he had lived since the early 2000s.

Social media networks were yesterday inundated with condolence messages from people who had known him personally and those who had interacted with him through his rich body of literary works.

In a statement yesterday, Zimbabwe Writers’ Association secretary-general Memory Chirere expressed condolences to the Hove family, friends and associates.

He said Hove’s death came barely hours after the burial of yet another eminent writer, Freedom Nyamubaya, who was buried in Chinhoyi at the weekend.

“We wish to express our deepest condolences to his family and relatives and to his many colleagues and admirers at home and across the world on this sad loss,” Chirere said.

“We shall forever cherish the power of his vision, his unique turn of phrase and his affable laughter. His outstanding work at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair and Zimbabwe Writers’ Union showed his keenness to work for the welfare of writers and other artistes.”

Prolific writer and curriculum developer Shimmer Chinodya — who belonged to the same generation of writers with Hove described his death as a big blow to the country’s literary fraternity.

He said Hove was not only a friend, but a mentor to many local writers and was prominently known for his “refined poetry” published in various anthologies.

“I have known him since the early 1980s, and I knew him as a journalist and an activist and back then we belonged to the same writers association,” he said.

He said some of his poetry – published in Now the Writers Speak – was part of the foundation and pillars of Zimbabwe’s poetry.

Details of funeral arrangements were still sketchy yesterday morning although mourners were gathered at Hove’s Harare home at 15 Clovelly Road in Chadcombe.

Prominently known for his Noma Award for Publishing in Africa winner, the classic novel, Bones (1988), Hove was born in Mazvihwa, Zvishavane, on February 9, 1956. He was educated at Kutama College and Marist Brothers in Dete, Hwange.

He trained as a teacher before attaining several degrees from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the University of Zimbabwe.
Hove was one of the very few Zimbabwean writers who wrote both in English and Shona.

Some of his poems were published in the trendsetting Zimbabwe war poetry anthology, And Now The Poets Speak (1981).

He published a number of individual poetry anthologies that include Up in Arms (1982), Red Hills of Home (1985), Rainbow in the Dust (1998) and Blind Moon (2003). His household novels included Masimba Avanhu (1986), Shadows (1991) and Ancestors (1996).

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