Dambudzo Marechera

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Dambudzo Marechera

Charles William Dambudzo Marechera was a Zimbabwean novelist and poet who has been recognised by some people as a lunatic whilst other have argued that he was a whiz kid whose career was obstructed by his love of women and alcohol. He was born on 4 June 1952 in Rusape and he succumbed to an HIV and AIDS related ailment on 18 August 1987. He died as a pauper. He was criticised by many writers for his anarchism and nihilism.


Marechera was born out of a troubled family and this has been attributed as being the major factor which shaped his erratic behaviour. His father, Isaac worked in a mortuary and he stated that he was killed by the Rhodesians whom he detested.[1] His mother, Venenzia Masvotwa was a maid who later reverted to being a prostitute after the death of his father.[2] This was because the family was now struggling to make ends meet. This has also been accredited for shaping Marechera's life who defied morals.

As a brilliant and intelligent child, Marechera was awarded a scholarship to study at St Augustine's Mission for his secondary education. Whilst at St Augustine, Marechera had frosty relations with all his teachers whom he accused of propagating the supremacy of the whites. This was because of the teaching syllabi which was colonial in orientation.[1]

In 1972, he was enrolled at the then University of Rhodesia, present day University of Zimbabwe (UZ) where he was doing a Bachelor of Arts Degree.[2] It was reported that whilst at the institution, Marechera was notorious for bedding his fellow female colleagues and he was rumoured to have contracted a sexually transmitted disease.[2] The following year, he was expelled from the institution for protesting against racial discrimination together with other 150 students. [2]


Marechera published his first novel, House of Hunger whilst in the United States of America (USA) in 1978, a novel he wrote whilst as a vagabond. Marechera was awarded a scholarship to study at the New College at Oxford University in the United States of America (USA) in 1974.[3] He was then expelled after he had attempted to set the college on fire.

Prior to this, Marechera had expressed his notoriety as he was always in constant confrontation with his lecturers. He had also been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia and he had refused to go for therapy.[3] His brother stated that Marechera was cursed by their mother who was also cursed by her relatives, hence she was mandated to pass on the curse to one of her children and she chose Marechera.[2] Marechera's girlfriend, Flora Veit Wild opined that Marechera was against the idea of receiving treatment because he argued that it would make him lose his distinct personality.[4]

The publication of House of Hunger made Marechera a renowned novelist who was now being sought after in USA who spent his earnings on women and alcohol. He then became a writer-in-residence at the University of Sheffied and Leeds University.[5] He was later arrested and spent four months in a Welsh jail for theft and illegally possessing marijuana.[2]

From his 1978 publication, Marechera created his own trademark of propagating individualism through his poems and novels as well as short stories. Upon his return to Zimbabwe in 1982, he refused to be co-opted into the nation building post independence project.[3] He was sceptical about Robert Mugabe and he publicly criticised him. His novel, Mind Blast or The Definite Buddy was banned after it was published, Marechera was arrested and was held in the police cells for 6 days.[2] The ban was however lifted.

In 1984, Marechera became a teacher at Peoples' College but was later fired. He was then arrested during the Zimbabwe Book Fair in the same year after he had complained that he was attacked by an army colonel.[2]

His Death

Marechera succumbed to an HIV and AIDS related disease. Wild stated that Marechera began to have health problems in February 1986.[4] He was however unable to look after himself as he squandered his money on women and alcohol. In 1987, he was diagnosed as being HIV positive and still he denied to live with his family arguing that they were after his money.[4] Thus no one else was there to take care of him.


  1. The House of Hunger (1978)
  2. Black Sunlight (1980)
  3. Mind Blust or The Definitive Buddy (1984)
  4. The Black Insider (1990) - published post posthumously
  5. Cemetery of Mind (1994) an anthology of all Marechera's poems


  1. The Guardian Fiction Prize (1979) for The House of Hunger


  1. 1.0 1.1 , The life of Marechera, Daily News, published:11 Dec 2013,retrieved:21 July 2014"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987), Books and Writers, published:2008,retrieved:21 July 2014"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Helon Habila, About Dambudzo Marechera, Maliza Productions, published:2013,retrieved:21 July 2014"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Flora Veit-Wild, Me and Dambudzo: a personal essay by Flora Veit-Wild, KwaChirere, published:2 Mar 2012,retrieved:21 July 2014"
  5. , Dambudzo Marechera, ZIM LEGENDS:,retrieved:21 July 2014"