Julius Chingono, Renowned Zimbabwean Poet dies

Julius Chingono, the Zimbabwean novelist, playwright and poet, died on the second day of the new year in Mashonaland West. He was 65.

In December, Chingono helped launch the Writers International Network (WIN) Zimbabwe. WIN ran a short obituary:Chingono passed on on Janaury 2 in Norton at Norton General Hospital after a short illness. There is so much we can remember about this writer but the greatest grief at Win-Zimbabwe will be the knowledge that Chingono, as our Board Member, had begun adding ideas for the 2011 Calendar of Activities. Many of you will remember how well he looked on 11 December 2010 at the Writers End of Year Get Together at the Book Cafe.

Chingono worked very well with us as he was our guide, considering the fact that he had seen it all from the time Zim literature began to grow in pre-colonial times. Surely, God’s will cannot be twisted by any human being, Him alone knows our destiny.  To the Chingono family, we are together in the grief but lets celebrate Julius Chingono because he left an undying legacy, the stories and poems, and memories our friendship with him. He will be buried tommorrow January 5 in Norton. May his soul rest in peace.

Chingono’s publisher, Weaver Press, published an obituary and bibliography:

Born in 1946, Chingono was the son of a farmworker, and worked for most of his life as a blaster on the mines. Made redundant in 1999, he worked intermittently as a rock-blasting contractor, the difficulties of which are laconically alluded to in his December 2001 diary, published on Poetry International.

His often deceptively simple poetry was written with compassion and clarity, feeling deeply as he did for the hardships of the poor and marginalised, while his honesty, humour and ironic eye made him a sharp and witty observer of those who abused their station through corruption and hypocrisy. Between 1968 and 1980 his poetry was published in several Shona anthologies, including Nhetembo, Mabvumira eNhetembo and Gwenyambira.

Another Zimbabwean publisher, amaBooks, published a tribute:

The loss of Julius Chongono is a great loss to the literary community.

He was such a humble being and very unassuming. One thing I learnt, and many poets (he is best known for his poetry even though he was also a great prose writer) learnt, from Julius is to be natural and to be yourself as a writer.

amaBooks also published a poem by Chingono, as did the blog Kwachiere:

At the Bus Station

When you arrive
at the bus station
pull down your tie
or remove the tie
to prevent strangulation.

~ ~ ~


Kudzai when your first birthday passed
Without a word
Without a symbol
You kept quiet
And when your second passed
Without a present
Without a party
You kept quiet