Dambudzo! Thou shouldn’t be living at this hour

Zimbabwe hath need of thee:(With apologies to William Wordsworth)


Actors needed to stage new play about Dambudzo Marechera


LONDON – Actors and a production crew are being recruited to stage a new biographical play about Dambudzo Marechera, the Zimbabwean novelist, poet and playwright who died after a short, tragic life in August 1987 at the age of 35.

A group of Oxford University students plan to stage the production in May next year at the Moser Theatre as part of Dambudzo Marechera Celebration.

Known as the “enfant terrible of Africans literature” and “Zimbabwe’s answer to James Joyce” Dambudzo is fast being recognized as one of the last century’s most important African writers.

Some say his work places him alongside ‘greats’ such as Wole Soyinka and Christopher Okigbo and in the light of a growing interest in the young Zimbabwean’s life and work the play will be staged at Oxford where Dambudzo was a student (New College) from 1974 -1976.

“It will be a stage adaptation of his works, especially The House of Hunger, Black Sunlight and some poetry,” aspiring playwright Dobrota Pucherova said. “The part of Dambudzo will be played by a young Oxford-based actor, Ery Nzaramba.”

Last year, the play Dambudzo was staged at the Theatre in the Park and it was directed by Cont Mhlanga, produced by Daves Guzha and written by the UK-based David Pattison. A local newspaper said that it was “a brave attempt at trying to delve deep into the mind of this genius who passed on at 35 years of age on 18 August 1987.” ( Zimbabwe Standard, 18 November 2007)

The paper’s theatre critic said that while this was obviously a difficult play, Memory Kumbota was outstanding in his role as Marechera’s conscience. The “other” Dambudzo was played by the young, and then inexperienced, actor Mitchell Dzimwasha.

Dambudzo Marechera was temperamental, and that’s being polite.

He won The Guardian fiction prize while still a student and at the presentation ceremony he hurdled plates at the audience and wine bottles at the chandeliers. He told reporters that he was ashamed because while he was collecting literary awards in England his own people were being killed in a bush war in Rhodesia, a seven year long confrontation which claimed something like 30,000 to 35,000 African lives.

Dambudzo Marechera often insulted Zimbabwean politicians. What he’d be like today – at 56 – is anyone’s guess. He will be remembered as a young rebel without a cause, a man who delighted hurling plates and wine bottles not only at liberal readers of The Guardian and New Statesman at Oxford University and chandeliers in plush drawing rooms and colleges but also as a deadly wordsmith, a poet, playwright and novelist who appeared to respect no-one at all – a literary super-brat who became a legend after his death.

Post published in: Arts

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