A Conversation with Zimbabwean author, Chenjerai Hove

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Venue:FIU-Biscayne Bay Campus, AC2-115

Born near Zvishavane in 1956, poet, novelist and social commentator, Chenjerai Hove now lives in exile in Europe. His critical social and political commentary in the weekly newspaper The Standard (2000-2002) gave rise to threats that he was forced to take seriously. For a creative writer who cares deeply about his country’s welfare, leaving is a moment of profound loss. And yet for a writer for whom ideals are central, such loss is intensified by what he believes is a betrayal of governance in an independent Zimbabwe.

Chenjerai Hove’s four volumes of poetry – Up in Arms (1982), Red Hills of Home (1985), Rainbows in the Dust (1998) and Blind Moon (2003) – reflect the progression of his ideas and experiences from the hot anger and challenge to colonial repression, through the scrupulous observation of the effects of liberation war on rural communities, to disillusion and bitterness over the failure of the new government’s promises.

Hove’s writing is infused with his belief in the people for whom he bears witness, and informed by the excoriating pain of injustice. /The Red Hills of Home/ drew on Hove’s 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 first novel, /Bones/ (1988), which won 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 outspoken social and cultural critic, and has never shied away from recording the violence of the new Zimbabwe in his fiction, poetry and journalism. Along with the novels /Shadows/ (1994) and /Ancestors/ (1996), Hove’s other work includes two collections of articles written for newspapers: /Shebeen Tales/ (1994) and /Palaver Finish/ (2002), and /Guardians of the Soil/ – meeting Zimbabwe’s elders (with Ilija Trojanow) (1996).