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Biography of HOVE CHENJERAI

Zimbabwe > Literature : HOVE CHENJERAI

HOVE CHENJERAI
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Born on 09/02/1956 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Chenjerai Hove (b. February 2, 1956), is a leading figure of post-colonial Zimbabwean literature. He's one of Zimbabwe's finest writre's now living in exile for fear of his life.

Novelist and poet Chenjerai Hove gained international fame in 1988 with his novel Bones. In recent years, his work (which revolves around the theme of the spiritual importance of land in African cultures) has gained a new significance in the light of the social crisis unfolding in his native Zimbabwe. In 2001, Hove left his country of birth amid the escalating violence triggered by the government of Robert Mugabe. He now leads a migrant's life in the West and is an outspoken critic of the Mugabe regime.

Chenjerai Hove is a writer who grew up acutely conscious of the injustice meted out to Africans during the colonial era, an awareness that was probably strengthened when he attended the Catholic Marist Brothers schools at Kutama and Dete in the 1970s. He also trained as a teacher in Gweru and taught English at several secondary schools while pursuing degree studies in literature and education with the University of South Africa (UNISA). During that time some of his love poems and stories in Shona were published in Nduri Dzorudo (1978) and Matende Mashava (1980), respectively. Fourteen of his poems in English, which were particularly inspired by aspects of the liberation war which he witnessed as a secondary school teacher, were published in And Now the Poets Speak (1980). Spurred on by his love for literature, he embarked on another Honours degree course in 1984 at the University of Zimbabwe, after which he resigned from teaching and became an edltor for Mambo Press in Gweru. Since then Hove has worked as an editor for several publishing concerns as well as being writer-in-residence at the University of Zimbabwe. Hove also has the distinction of being one of the founding members of the Zimbabwe Writers Union (ZIWI) and indeed was its Chairman from 1984 to 1992.

Chenjerai Hove published his first collection of poetry, Up in Arms, in 1982 and The Red Hills of Home in 1985; the latter drew on of his deeply felt moral anguish over the brutalities of Zimbabwe's war of liberation (1967- 80), which he observed while teaching in the rural areas during the period.

His third volume of poetry, Rainbows in the Dust (Baobab Books, 1997) is a reflection on the betrayals of independence. His first novel,Bones (1988), which won him the Noma Award, shows the depth of his empathy for rural people and in particular rural women. If Hove is (or was) a nationalist, he is also fearless observer, and has never shied away from recording the violence of the new Zimbabwe in his fiction, his poetry and his journalism. An outspoken social and cultural critic, he writes a weekly column for The Zimbabwe Standard. His other novels are Shadows (Baobab Books, 1994), Ancestors (College Press, 1996); and he has two collections of essays, Shebeen Tales (Serif, London, and Baobab Books 1994), Palaver Finish (Weaver Press, 2002); the latter is also translated into Shona as Zvakwana! and Ndebele as Akudle Inqondo.

Quotes:

"Living in exile is never good for anything. I miss the real voices of people, the sounds and rhythms of home, the background to my poetic language, the scents, the birds, the colours of my landscape. Although I carry my piece of country with me, it is not the same. I write out of the longing and desire for the motherland. It is always a part of me. But I have to write and reflect more since exile is also a time to look at one's country from a distance."

"Can't imagine being something else. Imagine if I had been some kind of businessman or bureaucrat. I would be so miserable. Literature gives me hope and vision. Literature is life. Through writing I dream my dreams for myself and for society. I hope readers share some of my visions in order for them to gain strength to continue with life."

The persecution that I have suffered is part of the risk of being a creator of new dreams. As a writer I put the mirror of our society in front of our faces so that we can see how beautiful or ugly we are. Some people want to refuse to see the mirror. They try to break it because it shows them their ugliness. Literature has the task of shocking society into re-examining itself. Social contradictions come to the surface through art and artistic works.

"The persecution that I have suffered is part of the risk of being a creator of new dreams. As a writer I put the mirror of our society in front of our faces so that we can see how beautiful or ugly we are. Some people want to refuse to see the mirror. They try to break it because it shows them their ugliness. Literature has the task of shocking society into re-examining itself. Social contradictions come to the surface through art and artistic works."

 "   When I take up my pen to write, I feel the strength of standing up and refusing to be silent. In an oppressive situation, silence is death. "


Honours and Awards:

 

    * 1983 Special Commendations for the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, for Up in Arms
    * 1984 Inaugural President, Zimbabwe Writers Union
    * 1988 Winner, Zimbabwe Literary Award, for Bones
    * 1989 Winner, Noma Award for Publishing In Africa, for Bones
    * 1990 Founding Board Member, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights)
    * 1991 -4 Writer-in-Residence, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
    * 1994 Visiting Professor, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon, USA
    * 1995 Guest Writer, Yorkshire and Humberside Arts and Leeds University, UK
    * 1996 Guest Writer, Heinrich Boll Foundation, Germany
    * 1998 Second Prize, Zimbabwe Literary Award, for Ancestors
    * 2001 German-Africa Prize for literary contribution to freedom of expression
    * 2007-2008 International Writers Project Fellow, Brown University





Last update : 09/03/2008


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