Yvonne Vera

Yvonne Vera was one of the numerous self esteemed Zimbabwean novelist and short story writer who was born on 19 September 1964 and died on 7 April 2005 after succumbing to meningitis. She was a staunch feminist who castigated male chauvinism and or sexism. She was the only child of Erica Mugadzaweta and Jerry Vera (who successfully connived to terminate the pregnancy which was an unwanted one). She was married to Josh Jose, a Canadian. She won prestigious awards such as the Commonwealth prize for the Best Book in Africa in 1997.


Vera grew up in Bulawayo and was raised by her mother. Her parents had divorced in 1970 after her father had lost his job and he just disappeared.[1] She did her primary education first in a remote school in Bulawayo, then at Luveve and finally at Mzilikazi where she also completed her high school studies. She was enrolled at Hillside Teachers College where she was trained to become a qualified secondary school English teacher.[1] She was deployed to teach at Njube High School where she met Jose who was a mathematics teacher.[2] The two got married in 1987 and they relocated to Canada.


Vera began her career when she was enrolled at York University (where she also completed her Masters and Doctorate Degrees in English Literature) in Canada where she was studying for a Bachelors Degree in English. She sent a story to a certain magazine publication house. The story was published and the editor of the magazine requested Vera to be part of the magazine crew.[2] She was mandated to write short stories for the magazine. Since then Vera became a devout writer and she was once quoted saying,

       writing is a non-negotiable part of my life, something for which l am willing to sacrifice even the most intimate relationships. [2]

In 1996, after returning back to Zimbabwe from Canada, Vera wanted to commit suicide by being run over by a car after she had quarrelled intensively with her mother. Her mother professed that, she went and stood in the middle of Matopos road and cars swerved trying to avoid her.[1] In 1997, she was appointed to be the director of the Zimbabwe National Gallery in Bulawayo, a post she retained until 2003. She however continued to publish short stories whilst working as a director.[1] She died working on a novel which she had entitled Obedience.


  1. Zimbabwe Publishers Literary Awards for Without A Name (1995)
  2. Commonwealth's Best Novel in Africa, for Under The Tongue (1997)
  3. 'The Voice of Africa' Swedish Literary Awards for Under The Tongue (1997)
  4. Macmillian Writers Prize for Africa for The Stone Virgins (2002)
  5. Tucholski Prize by the Swedish PEN
  6. Aidoo/Snyder Prize for her novel The Stone Virgins (2006)


  1. Why Don't You Carve Other Animals?, a collection of short stories (1992)
  2. Nehanda (1993)
  3. Without A Name (1994)
  4. Under The Tongue (1996)
  5. Butterfly Burning (1998)
  6. The Stone Virgins (2002)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Memory Chirere, Mother writes Yvonne Vera’s biography, "Kwachirere", published:11 Jul 2012,retrieved:17 July 2014"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Helo Habila, Yvonne Vera, "The Guardian", published:27 Apr 2005,retrieved:17 July 2014"