In the return of our “Throwback Thursday” segment, we feature legendary late Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera.
Dambudzo Marechera was a Zimbabwean novelist, short story writer, playwright and poet who was born on June 4, 1952. His first book, written while in England, was House of Hunger a collection of a novella of 80-odd pages which the book was named after and nine satellite short stories. The book, published in 1978, was number 207 in Heinemann’s African Writers Series and won the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1979. At the award ceremony night, Marechera threw plates at his fellow guests. With these actions, his angry-badly-behaved-dreadlocked-writer-raving-against-the-man persona was birthed.
His second book Black Sunlight (1980) was an “experimental novel, where he parodies African nationalist and racial identifications as part of an argument that notions of an ‘essential African identity’ were often invoked to authorize a number of totalitarian regimes across Africa.” This book gave a “cockroach eye view” of London similar to the same treatment he gave to his life growing up in Zimbabwe in his first book.
In 1982, Marechera returned to Zimbabwe to take part in a drama-documentary adaptation of House of Hunger. While there he fell out with the producer, withdrew from the film and tried to have its production stopped; it was still filmed and screened on Channel Four in the UK. He was supposed to be in Zimbabwe for five weeks but he never went back to the UK.
While back home, he would produce Mindblast or The Definitive Buddy (1984) the last publication that would be produced while he was alive. On August 18, 1987, Dambudzo Marechera passed away at Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital to an Aids-related illness. The Black Insider (1992) and Cemetery of Mind (1992), as well as Scrapiron Blues (1994), were published posthumously.
Watch the movie House of Hunger below on YouTube.