Chenjerai Hove (1956 – 2015)

Chenjerai Hove, Zimbabwean novelist, poet, and essayist (born Feb. 9, 1956, Mazvihwa, near Zvishavane, Southern Rhodesia [now in Zimbabwe]—died July 12, 2015, Stavanger, Nor.), explored the lives of ordinary people in his homeland under British colonial rule and during Pres. Robert Mugabe’s postindependence regime. Hove was the son of a polygamous local chieftain. He was educated at Roman Catholic missionary schools, Gwelo Teachers’ College (1975–77), the University of South Africa (1980–83; through its external learning program), and the University of Zimbabwe (1984–85). Hove taught at rural schools in Zimbabwe and later at several universities abroad. He also served as an editor at Mambo Press and Zimbabwe Publishing House and was the inaugural president (1984–92) of the Zimbabwe Writers’ Union.

After enduring several years of surveillance and harassment, Hove, a fierce public critic of Mugabe, fled Zimbabwe into exile in 2001. He eventually settled in Norway under the auspices of the International Cities of Refuge Network. Prior to this, he held visiting positions at Lewis and Clark College and Brown University; he was also once a poet-in-residence in Miami. Chenjerai Hove’s work was translated into several languages (including Japanese, German, and Dutch). He won several awards over the course of his career, including the 1989 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa.

Hove’s best-known work, the novel Bones (1988), followed a rural woman in colonial Rhodesia seeking to learn the fate of her son, who left the farm to join a band of liberation fighters. The novel won both the Zimbabwe Book Publishers Association Award for Literature (1988) and the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa (1989). His other novels include Shadows (1991), Ancestors (1996), and the Shona-language Masimba avanhu? (1986; “Is This the People’s Power?”). Among his poetry collections are Up in Arms (1982), Red Hills of Home (1985), Rainbows in the Dust (1998), and Blind Moon (2003). Hove also wrote a radio play, Sister, Sing Again Someday (1988), essay collections, and a memoir, Homeless Sweet Home (2011).

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