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Dambudzo Marechera Ari pakati peN’angawo Here? – Chikamu 1: Mabhingo eMunyori | Essay in Shona

This Is Africa announces 2022 as the year of “Return to Marechera.” The great Zimbabwean writer, Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987), would have turned 70 this year.

This Is Africa announces 2022 as the year of “Return to Marechera.” The great Zimbabwean writer, Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987), would have turned 70 this year. His internationalist investment in literature, psychoanalysis and philosophy has assured his continuing relevance, while his relationship with the decolonial worldview remains uneasy. Onai Mushava responds to Ignatius Mabasa’s recent essay, Kudya zveVapfupi neKureba – Musatsamwe, Marechera Munhu weJee, Musara neKurasa Hunhu” (When the Tall Eat for the Short – Marechera and Language’s Lost Baggage), on the question of Marechera’s controversial relationship to his mother tongue. An English summary of the seven-part series appears at the end of Mushava’s Shona essay. 

Imba handina ndotogara kumahosteri, ndichingonwa sikindo (“Dambudzo”, Leonard Dembo)

Dambudzo Marechera aifamba achirota. Kuti azviraramire oga mumusoro make, rimwe zuva, ari kuNgirandi, akarasha mabhingo ake maune ndokupedza makore mapfumbamwe achiona vanhu semimvuri. Hazvishamisi nekuti muera Humba uyu anga atombopedza mwedzi gumi nemumwe achirambira mudumbu maamai seaifemerwa kuti kunze kunotonhora. Azoramba ogashirwa mberi nemhepo dzaasiya kwaabva – kugara muzvitangwena nemigwagwa kwaRusape, London neHarare, kukandwa mujeri kuCardiff, West Berlin neHarare, nekudzingwa zvikoro nebasa – Marechera haana kuzoda kuonazve kuti kunze kunani. Nyika yakava nhema kwaaari, kunyora – aive nedambudziko diki pakunyora nekuverenga sezvo aionera pedo – kukava chokwadi chake.

Mabhingo emunyori

Unogona kufunga kuti wakamboona nyaya iyi. Hausati. Iyo chaiyo inopisa. Yakawota, yacho yaunoziva, yakaita zvekubikwa mazana emakore adarika. Vakaita kuti ibude yakaneta, yakangodhakwadhakwa (“Dark Fantasy”, Kanye West).

Marechera anofamba asina mabhingo. Mabhingo haaoni vanhu; anoona mavara, zvipfeko nezvishandwa. Kuchikoro, vana vanotanga nekushandisa penzera dzinobudisa mavara, kana vati kurei vozoshandisa penzera dzinodzosa zvinhu zvose kuva mimvuri. Kuchinja kwemapenzera hakuratidzi kutsikirirwa kunoitwa maonero evana nechikoro; kunoratidza kukura kwemweya wava kuziva kupatsanura chokwadi chiri mumumvuri kubva munhema dziri mumavara (Less Than Nothing, Slavoj Zizek).

Mabhingo anogadzirwa negirazi rekuseri kwemirror. Kumberi kwemirror kune munhu anozvitarisa oona mhuka (“Burning in the Rain”, Dambudzo Marechera; The Open: Man and Animal, Georgio Agamben). Pakati pemhuka dzose munhu, haasi chinhu chakazara nechekare, asi mushini unogadzira umunhu. Munhu anotarisa mumirror, “anofanira kuzviona mune chisiri munhu kuti ave munhu” (The Open: Man and Animal). “Achizviona mumhuka, munhu anotanga kuzvisiyanisa nayo” (The History of Animals: A Philosophy, Oxana Timofeeva). Marechera anofamba asina mabhingo nekuti mirror rinobudisa munhu ari mhuka kuti mabhingo azobudisa mhuka iri munhu.

Zimbabwe, Harare. Rhodes Avenue, May 1987.
Zimbabwean writers Dambudzo Marechera and Charles Mungoshi meet for the first time after years of rivalry. Photography by Ernst Schade

“Munhu akatumidza mhuka dzose mazita adzo” (Mavambo 2: 20). Mhuka yoga yakagona kutaura yakatanga nekupa dzimwe mhuka dzose mazita, mazita aya apera iyo ndokuva munhu. “Munhu akazvisika paakazadza musoro wake nezvinhu zvinomusimbisa kuti akasiyana nedzinza rake remhuka” (The Black Insider, Dambudzo Marechera). “Chati homu, chareva,” Mukanya Ignatius Mabasa vakareva, ndizvo vakanga vasangana nenyaya iyi mukukanyaira:

 Mugomo revaMbire, makudo anosarudza handsome pakati pawo, kwava kuchimuveura mambava, kumucheka muswe, nekumupfekedza chisutu chedzukununu. Zvikasinzi, “Shamwari, enda unonyenga mvana dzaMuchape. Kana wadiwa, unofanira kuzopota uchitivhurira gedhe tosakadza chibage chatezvara wako nekuti mazuvano hakuchasvikiki nerekeni.” Chiripo ndechekuti mukomana anosvikopakurirwa zvinoera nemwana wehurudza, okanganwa kuti aitombovawo Mukanya. Kungonzwa chati homu, haanonoki kuregedzera rekeni. Tese tinoziva kuti rekeni inobuda mumhasuro yegudo ibara ramhanywa. Zuva rodoka, mukomana anodzokera kuvadiwa vake achifaranuka, radio iri pafudzi, ichidzokorora tune ririkupisa zvaizvezvi:

Wakada kugara musango wega

Nenyaya yehusimbe hama yangu,

Basa rekudya zvandakarima,

Haundinyariwo here?

Makumbo, pameso maoko takafanana, 

Ndokuzosiyana pamutupo,

Iwe womera mambava muswe nemahobi, 

Hauzi hama yangu here? 

(“Munyika muneZvipo” Leonard Dembo)

Chisi chinotevera, vanaMukanya vanozoroka vamhara muruvazhe, chibaba chichitamba tsoro natezvara pasi pemuuzhe. Tezvara vanozomboona here chitanda chekuturika bhobho, huruva yasimuka, makudo achiimba, “Mukwasha waMuchape, tauya nemuswe wako. Homu, homu!” Mhombo huru yevhudzijena inosvikotungira mukomana muswe waanga akanganwa, mabvindi owarira muviri wose semajasi aya anopfekwa nemapimp. Mukwasha waMuchape anozongoonekwa ozvikweva nemana akananga kumunda, zvichibva zvangonamana nembwa dzaVaHurudza, vakarahwa vari mugotsi nemavhiringa. 

Zvinhu zvinosimbisa vakwasha nevaroora vaMuchape kuti vasiyana nehama dzavo dzemusango zvinosanganisira maadvert, mastanzi epasosho, madegree, TV, radio, mavhoti, hondo, nenyaya dzezvishandwa. Marechera anobata zvimwe zvezvinhu izvi neurefu hwazvo munyaya pfupi yake, “Are There People Living There?” “MuAfrica nekumwe, pane vari kuzvisiyanisa nevamwe vanemunyama…” wekusachinjwa pfungwa nemaadvert, bag nezvimwe zvinoita kuti munhu anzi munhu (The Black Insider). Kuva munhu kwamakumbe (consumer/ culture snob) kuri muzvigadzirwa. Makumbe mushini unotsenga chirungu uchisvisvina umunhu. Mirror raJacques Lacan rakatamba nevana nekuti haribudisi Mukanya vanokonzera marush hour, mishikashika nemano-fly zone ose pasi pano.

“Zviriko mufananidzo wezvisiko unogadzirwa nezvido, mazano, nezvishuvo zvedu. Shandura zvido, mazano nezvishuvo izvi, pakarepo, semasaramusi, unenge washandura zviriko” (Black Sunlight, Dambudzo Marechera). Munemo hakusi kupisa musoro nekuti vanyori vemunemo vanotemba kuvapo kwechokwadi chavanoseka. Marechera haana basa nemabhingo nekuti haapo kuseka chokwadi; aripo kuchipidigura.

Ndakamboedza kudzima TV ndiri pakati pekuona firimu remazombi. Mazombi haadzimirwi TV nekuti ane remote yehope dzako. Haauraiki nekuti akafa kare. Mazombi mimvuri isingazivi vene vayo. Vamwe vanhu vanoziva chokwadi; vamwewo vanopisa musoro saMarechera, vachidadzira kuti chokwadi iremote yekuonesa nayo nhema, asi vese vanototoziva zvavanoziva. Mazombi haazivi muganhu weupenyu nerufu, kana musiyano waon naoff. Marechera anofamba asina magirazi kuti adzidze kurarama nemazombi pasina anotinya remote.

Paanodzoka kuZimbabwe achirota netsoka, Marechera anosvikosangana nemimvuri yeRhodesia neBBC muZimbabwe. Akasangana nemupurisa kana musoja mumastreet eHarare anorova kweza (Literary Shock Treatment, nhaurirano yaMarechera naAlle Lansu) nekuti akapedzisira kuona Sosibheri mapuruvheya nemabhurakwacha achitsonda nekuponda vanhu vatema. Musi waanotanga kunzwa “Bob and the Wailers,” kureva Prime Minister Robert Mugabe nemotorcade yavo yemasiren, anomhanyira muchitoro achifunga kuti hondo yatanga sezvo anga ajaira kuverenga macivil wars ekuAfrica pamafront page ekuChando.

Hazvirevi kuti Marechera ndihama murashiki. Kuona mimvuri isina mavara ndiko kunotomuita mhondoro yekutanga muZimbabwe “itsva.” Matongerwo enyika ifirimu remavara rinorongedza zvinonakidza umhuka huri mukushandiswa kwesimba. Mimvuri yeRhodesia inoramba ichionekwa naMarechera mumakopeshuro ake iri pedo nechokwadi kupfuura mabillboard anoverengwa nevanhu vanopinda mumanew republic vakarova mabhingo. Babangu Chasura!

Chimupfana chakabuda chichinotamba. Pachakavhura gonhi racho, chakaona nyika. Chichipfuura nemumusuwo, chakatangisa mumvuri. Chitema chakazvarwa. Chitema chakazvarwa chikatevera mupfana (Kachembere keDumba muna Inland Empire, David Lynch). 

“The underwear of our souls was full of holes…we were whores, eaten to the core by the syphilis of the white-man’s coming.” – Dambudzo Marechera, ‘House of Hunger’. Photo: Ernst Schade

Pasi pezuva pane zvinhu zviviri: nyika yevakuru nematakanana evana. Vana vakazvarwa matakanana achingovako. Matakanana akagadzirwa nevakuru kuti vazviudze kuti ndivo vari munyika; vana ndivo vari kumatakanana (Simulacra and Simulation, Jean Baudrillard). Marechera akauya kuzokanyanisa nyika nematakanana kuti vakuru vaone kuti matakanana anotambirwa munyika, vana vaone kuti nyika inotambwa mumatakanana (“Solomon Mutswairo and the Songs We Sang”, Memory Chirere).

Marechera, mupostmodernist, akadzima nyika mumaziso ake akaenda kunotamba nemanzwi asi chitema chakamutevera. Ndiani anonzwisisa maths dzemupfana anofamba nemota yemawaya muruvazhe? Anosiyanisa inzwi, achizviita driver, hwindi, mapassenger nemapurisa, kusvika ozvizadzira mota yake oga. Marechera ane zvinyorwa zvinoitika mumusoro make, achizvipatsanura kuva vanhu vakawanda vanoteverwa nemimvuri yakasiyana kubva kwavabva (The Black Insider, “Grimknife Jr’ Story”, Black Sunlight, “A Writer’s Grain”, “Burning in the Rain”). Mapassenger aMarechera anopedzisira akanganwa muridzi wemota, oikungurusa oga nemhirizhonga yaabva nayo kwaabva. Mota yaMarechera inowirana yoga nekuti akaigadzira asina mabhingo. Lacan haana kumusungira waya dzinoita kuti mavhiri asatarisana.

Manomano aMarechera

Saka titambire wauya uine kastrategy, asi… tichanokujudger language nekuti patois idzo hatidzinzwisise (“Mukwasha Adzoka”, Tocky Vibes, Guspy Warrior, King Mas naDhadza D)

Kurota netsoka kwaMarechera kuriko here? “Handiti iri yaiva mhondoro yekwavo here yechiKiriti, yakareva ichiti, ‘VaKiriti vose vanoreva nhema’” (Tito 1: 12). Nyanduri weCrete mutsamba yaPauro anotaura chokwadi here? Kana achirevesa kuti vaKiriti vose vanonyepa, iye semuKiriti ari kunyepawo here paari kuti vaKiriti vose vanonyepa? (“The Thought of the Outside”, Michel Foucault). Marechera anotambira zvirahwe zvake pakapisira nyanduri weCrete. Munharo dzinoramba dzichitevera zita rake, vamwe vanoti, “Dambudzo tamba uchitsika pasi,” vamwe voti, “Hamumuzivi here? Munhu wenyambo.” Ndiani angaziva chokwadi chaMarechera kana nyaya dzake dzichinofira paanonzi munhu wenyambo, murwere wepfungwa, mukomana wefodya, mupostmodernist, kana kunzi maRasta awanda kudarika vanhu? Sarungano nanyanduri Ignatius Mabasa akafambira nyaya dzacho svondo rapera museri nenyaya ine musoro unoti, “Kudya zveVapfupi neKureba: Musatsamwe Marechera munhu wejee, musara, nekurasa hunhu.” 

Mushure mekubuda kwenyaya yangu muBrittle Paper, nemusoro wekuti, “When Dambudzo Marechera Met Aaron Chiundura Moyo: A brief history of Zimbabwe’s language  wars”, Mabasa haana kuitirwa zvakanaka nekudzikisirwa kwakaitwa bhururu wake, Chiundura, nevamwe vanyori veShona naDambudzo. Mbongorori dzeuvaranomwe Memory Chirere naTinashe Mushakavanhu dzinoti Marechera aiseka zvake paakati, “Aaron munyori, not a writer,” zvasangana hwereshenga mbiri idzi muHarare pazvirongwa zvevanyori kuma1980. Mumhinduro yake ichangobuda makare muBrittle Paper, Mabasa anoratidza kuti mujee magara ndimo munoroverwa mikono musaga saka manzwi anonzi akataurwa naMarechera anofanira kutariswa sezvaari. Nyaya yaMabasa inobata undinzindini hwemukomana, nembiradzakondo dzinoita kuti tirambe tichisarurana pachedu sevatema.

Aaron Chiundura Moyo presenting the Radio 2 (now Radio Zimbabwe) novel-reading show “Kuverengwa Kwemabhuku” in the 1990s (Courtesy: A.C Moyo).

Marechera akanga asingadzisikiri vanyori chete; vaverengi vose vaikwana muchanza chake. Munhaurirano yake naAlle Lansu, mutapi wenhau wechiDutch, Marechera anoti haanyoreri vanhuwo zvavo; anonyorera vakadzidza nekuti ndivo vane simba rekuchinja zvinhu. “Pandinobvunzwa kuti sei ndisinganyori neShona kuti vanhu vakawanda vaverenge mabhuku angu, ndinopindura ndichiti povo haina chainokwanisa kuchinja nekuti haigari mupolitburo, mucentral committee, kana muhurumende; ingasarudza zvayo vanhu asi haisiyo inosunga zvisungo” (Literary Shock Treatment). Ndizvo mabhuku ake achitaura nevari kumusoro, vangangovewo vakadzidza, kuti pavanoverenga vaone pfungwa “dzemumwe wavo.”

Kana Marechera achitora vakadzidza sevamwe vake, hazvisi pachena kuti ivo vanomutorawo semumwe wavo. Munhaurirano dzavo naMaiguru Flora Veit-Wild, mabhururu aMarechera akasvikopinda muhutungamiri paIndependence, anowanzomuita munhu wevarungu, munhu anobatira chirungu nepakati sebhasikiti, munhu asingazivi socialism, asingamiriri zvido zveZimbabwe itsva. Munzvimbo dzakasiyana, Marechera anoshandisa madimikira anoenderana kubudisa muonerwo waanoitwa “nevamwe vake” seronda riri mupfungwa dzenyika itsva, nhunzi iri mumuto wesarudzo, minzi dziri pasi pemucheka wemaslogan. Mastate agents anomurambidza kubuda muZimbabwe, omubvisa nechisimba pamaBook Fair a1983 na1984, omusunga mushure mekubuda kwaMindblast, omudzingisa basa rekuvhuna choko paprivate college raakawana apedza nguva refu achirara mumastreets. 

Zvinoitika kwandiri, ndinonzi nevanhu ndinoremedza mweya kana kuti ndine kusuwa; hanzi sei ndakasuwa zvekudaro. Chandinoona panyika, kana pane munhu akanyora kana kubudisa chinhu chiri pedo neni asi chisina kumbobvira chanyorwa kana kubudiswa, ndobva ndachiona, ndinokurirwa nekunzwa kuva pamwe nerudzi hwemunhu. Ndinorerukirwa nekubviswa kwangu kubva parudzi rwemunhu uye ndinonzwa, neimwe nzira, kufara kuva pamwe nechinhu ichi. 

Unoziva kuti, ukazvibatanidza nepfungwa yekuti chinhu ichi, mufananidzo uyu kana bhuku iri rinogona kunge rakanyorwa makore mazana maviri adarika, uye munhu uyu akagadzira chinhu ichi, akafa kana kuti ava nenguva refu afa… ndini. Unobva waziva kuti nhoroondo yevanhu haisi zvinoratidzwa, uye unoziva kuti munhu uyu akanga ari panyika achipfuura mairi nekusagadzikana kunenge kwangu, nekusuwa, neshungu, nekuva oga (Charlie Kaufman, muna “Riding a Mental Rollercoaster with One of Our Heroes”, Chaw)

Divi risinganzwi Marechera sugar rinobuda munaAfter the Drought and Hunger, firimu raOlley Maruma. Marechera anoyerera misodzi, achifunga nezveZimbabwe: “Ndinongoedza chete, kubva mukati mangu, kubudisa kurwadziwa kwese kwakatambudza, kuchiri kutambudza, kucharambazve kuchitambudza ruzhinji rwevanhu vedu.” Chero achirambisisa kuva nhengo yeboka ripi zvaro, kunyanya pane zvematongerwo enyika, runyoro rwaMarechera runowaridza moyo wake nerudo rwake kuvanhuwo zvavo, kunyanya vasina pekupotera muZimbabwe. Anobva nenyaya dzavo mumabhawa anomwira vashandi, mumapark anoswera vasina pekugara, osvikogogodzera magogodera anogara matare nenyaya idzi nemabhuku ake. Kushoropodza kwake vanyori veShona kune undinzindini dzimwe nguva, asi nerimwe divi kunobudisa kusagudzikana kwake kuti vanyori veShona vaakakura achiverenga vanomiririra vanhu.

Kushoropodza kwake vanyori veShona kune undinzindini dzimwe nguva, asi nerimwe divi kunobudisa kusagudzikana kwake kuti vanyori veShona vaakakura achiverenga vanomiririra vanhu

Musagara maoneka nekuti tichaidzisa nenyaya iyi muzvikamu zvakati kuti. Nhasi tabata nyaya yemabhingo emunyori. Rambai muineni muzvikamu zvinoti 2. “Shona rimwe remadhimoni andaiedza kutiza”, 3. Shona musi wePentecost, 4. Marechera mumugodhi wenjuzu, 5. Marechera muBabel, 6. Mbengo, 7. “Dambudzo munyori, not a writer.” Muzvikamu zvishoma zvinotevera tinoda kuona musiyano weShona yakataurwa musi wePentecost neShona yakabva kuBabel. Shona yakanyorwa naHumba Dambudzo Marechera inobudana papi neShona yaClement Doke neNative Affairs Commission? Ko iye Mukanya uyu, Ignatius Mabasa, zvinyorwa zvake zvinorevei murwendo rwevaShona?

Hungwe yamhara!  

Ignatius Mabasa recently published a Shona essay in a double gesture against Dambudzo Marechera’s reproach to Shona writers. Marechera reportedly dismissed Aaron Chiundura Moyo, a novelist and screenwriter eminently working in the Shona language, with the words, “Aaron munyori, not a writer,” on two occasions. My previous article, “When Dambudzo Marechera Met Aaron Chiundura Moyo” documents Marechera’s low opinion of Shona literature, placing it within “language wars” of the time. 

Mabasa’s intervention, “When the Tall Eat for the Short,” charges Marechera with colonial elitism,  and discusses the interplay of performance and exclusion in Marechera’s theatrics. My ongoing response, “Is Dambudzo Marechera also among Medicinemen?” takes the “munyori-writer dialectic” to an extreme where writing is play and mastery, while kunyora is the invasive dark outside. Lord of misrule Marechera is not master in his own postmodern house. Necessarily possessed by history and his African spiritual unconscious, “Dambudzo munyori, not a writer.”

Editing and additional notes:  Arthur Chatora

This Is Africa has traditionally published in English and for a brief period (2017–2018) in French but never in an African language, despite our fervent decolonial advocacy and promotion of African indigenous languages. Publishing an essay in Shona is a first for This Is Africa, and we are excited to take this bold step towards intellectualising and mainstreaming African languages, decoloniality, and the inclusion of African languages and their knowledge systems. 

Chikamu 2: “Shona rimwe remadhimoni emughetto andaiedza kutiza”

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