Veteran author David Mungoshi dies

BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO

RENOWNED author and educationist, David Mungoshi, has died. He was 71.

Mungoshi died at the Avenues Clinic at around 9pm on Saturday after battling ill-health for over five years.

Mungoshi’s eldest son, Tadiwa, told NewsDay Life & Style that although his father had been suffering from multiple conditions, including gout and arthritis, they would be able to confirm the real cause of death after a postmortem.

The postmortem was set to be conducted yesterday, after which burial details would be finalised, subject to flight confirmations by Tadiwa’s siblings in the United Kingdom.

“Our father passed on last night (Saturday) at 2140 hours at Avenues Clinic. He had been struggling with his health for some years. For the past 10 years, he has been suffering from arthritis and gout. He then developed respiratory and kidney problems and he was hospitalised last Sunday when the situation worsened,” he said.

“His death has, however, come as a shock because, in the past few days, doctors had said he was recovering and he was going to be discharged after this weekend. We don’t know what eventually caused his death. We hope that the postmortem will today actually ascertain the cause of the death.”

Tadiwa described his father as a towering figure in the extended Mungoshi family.

“We have lost a pillar in the family. He has been extremely pivotal to us the children and to almost everyone within the extended family. He inspired us to work hard and always aim high, especially in achieving academic excellence because he himself was an educationist. He gave us direction, he was a provider and made greatest sacrifices. His legacy is the same within the Mungoshi clan and words can’t be enough to explain who he was to us,” he said.

“We will start working on burial arrangements after the postmortem results, but most likely he will be buried in Manyene, Chivhu. It’s, however, something we need to discuss as a family and conclude considering many factors.”

National Arts Council of Zimbabwe executive director Nicholas Moyo described Mungoshi as “a multi-talented individual who excelled in various arts disciplines”.

“The passing on Mungoshi has indeed left a huge void in the arts sector as he contributed to the development of the sector through mentoring and his invaluable insights as a panellist in the Nama adjudication committee for the literary categories,” he said.

“He is a 2010 Nama [National Arts Merits Awards] award winner for his novel, The Fading Son, written in 2009 which tackled issues of breast cancer and its effect on the patient, their spouse, family and friends. The book was put on the list of literature set books for schools.”

Moyo said Mungoshi would also be remembered as an actor for his role as John Huni in the local groundbreaking soapie Studio 263.

“He also starred in other local film productions, The Postman and Ngugi wa Mirii’s Secrets,which he also assisted in editing dialogue in the scripts,” he said.

Meanwhile, condolence messages poured in yesterday with fellow renowned author and television scriptwriter Aaron Chiundura Moyo saying he was saddened by his compatriot’s death not so long after the passing on of his brother and prolific author, Charles (Snr).

“Sad news indeed. What a bad time to pass on when people are disabled to gather in a number of ways. So nature has decided to steal from us the Mungoshis,” he said.
Charles (Snr) died on February 16 last year.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer, literary critic and emerging author Tanaka Chidora said Mungoshi helped integrate him, alongside many other young writers, into the country’s creative fraternity.

“He was approachable and truthful: if your writing needed massive improvements, he would tell you so without crushing your spirit. After watching him read Live Like an Artist for a live audience, I was awed. He could bring poetry to life in a simple way,” he said.

“That performance triggered me to start writing poetry and my first collection, Because Sadness is Beautiful?, was born out of that moment. He went on to read all the poems in the collection and shaped them into what they are today. I will forever be grateful to David Mungoshi’s influence in my life.”

Following the release of Chidora’s poetry collection by African Books Collective, Mungoshi endorsed the book.

“Having him read my work helped me with shaping it and then endorsing it warmed my heart. Here was a veteran who led you by the hand and showed you the way,” he said.

Mungoshi’s influence transcended generations, with young creative writer and journalist Stan Mushava saying: “I loved the man. His 1990s columns in Moto made me decide I could be a creative writer. To finally share drinks and a category at Nama with my teenage hero was the full circle of a dream for me. He never looked down on you as a younger writer and in fact he had a philosophy around that.”

Mungoshi was the author of Broken Dream and Other Stories (1987) Stains on the Wall (1992), The Fading Sun (2009) and Live Like an Artist (2017).

A teacher and lecturer for most of his life, Mungoshi taught at various levels and in different education institutions across the country, including the University of Zimbabwe, before his
retirement.
Mourners are gathered at 3 Umguza Close, Wilmington Park in Cranborne, Harare.

Known as Mdhara Chigango, Mungoshi is survived by wife Emma, six children and 12 grandchildren.

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