Zimbabwe's Renowned Writer Turns To Politics

Her appointment was announced by MDC – M secretary general Welshman Ncube. who also revealed new appointments and re-assignment of party officials following the death of four senior party members early this month, including former party secretary for Agriculture and deputy party spokesman, Renson Gasela.

Sources from the party said Dangarembga, a literal giant, had all along been an ordinary member but had been playing a low profile.

The late Gasela has been replaced by Edward T. Mkhosi, the legislator for Matabeleland South, as the secretary for Lands and Agriculture while the late Lyson Mlambo, who perished together with Gasela has been succeded by Sibongile Mgijima from Mashonaland West as the Secretary for Disciplinary Matters.

Gasela and Mlambo died in a road accident with two other MDC officials recently.

An obscure politician from Matabeleland North, Nhlanhla Dube has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Information & Publicity.

Dangarembga was born in Mutoko, Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), in 1959 but spent part of her childhood in England. She began her education there, but concluded her A-levels in a missionary school back home, in the town of Mutare. She later studied medicine at Cambridge University, but became homesick and returned home as Zimbabwe’s black-majority rule began in 1980.

She took up psychology at the University of Zimbabwe, of whose drama group she was a member. She also held down a two-year job as a copywriter at a marketing agency. This early writing experience gave her an avenue for expression: she wrote numerous plays, such as The Lost of the Soil, and then joined the theatre group Zambuko, and participated in the production of two plays, Katshaa and Mavambo.

In 1985, Dangarembga published a short story in Sweden called “The Letter”. In 1987, she also published the play She Does Not Weep in Harare. At the age of twenty-five, she had her first taste of success with her novel Nervous Conditions. The first in English ever written by a black Zimbabwean woman, it won the African section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989. Asked about her subsequent prose drought, she explained, “There have been two major reasons for my not having worked on prose since Nervous Conditions: firstly, the novel was published only after I had turned to film as a medium; secondly, Virginia Woolf’s shrewd observation that a woman needs £500 and a room of her own in order to write is entirely valid. Incidentally, I am moving and hope that, for the first time since Nervous Conditions, I shall have a room of my own. I’ll try to ignore the bit about £500.”

Dangarembga continued her education later in Berlin at the Deutsche Film und Fernseh Akademie, where she studied film direction and produced several film productions, including a documentary for German television. She also made the film Everyone’s Child, shown worldwide including at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.