Literature in Zimbabwe
In literature, Zimbabwe can boast some of the continent's most eminent English-language writers such as Dambudzo Marechera, Chenjerai Hove, Yvonne Vera, Charles Mungoshi, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Shimmer Chinodya. Less known writers' activities are encouraged and cultivated by the Zimbabwe Writers' Union , and the Budding Writers organisations. Zimbabwe can also take pride in a vibrant literature in local languages, dating back to the 1950s.
After independence, Zimbabwe made substantial progress in developing educational opportunities for black people, and until recently could boast a higher literacy rate than, for example, England. It is no coincidence that, after its inception in 1983, the Zimbabwe International Book Fair grew to be Africa 's biggest book fair, a position only threatened by the crisis, which keeps foreign visitors and business away. Samuel Matsangaise, the director of the book fair, interviewed here, maintains an optimistic outlook.
The writers interviewed here include Charles Mungoshi, who writes both in Shona, (the language spoken by about 80 per cent of the Zimbabwean population), and in English. His writing deals with the many conflicts and clashes between tradition and modernity. Zimbabwe 's publishing industry was once one of the best on the continent. Some publishing houses, like College Press, were local affiliates of a British giant (Macmillan in this case). There were also independent publishers, like Baobab Press. Irene Staunton worked there until she left and founded Weaver Press. The Zimbabwe Women's Writers (ZWW), headed by Chiedza Musengezi, has local chapters in a great number of rural communities, and is an important tool for encouraging women to add their stories to the written literature and records. ZWW has also published books on women's experiences, one of them on women ex-combatants' memories. Virginia Phiri was part of this project, and has also written her own fictional report on prostitutes in Zimbabwe. The interviews also include two writers and poets, who are here interviewed in their capacity as literature scholars: Kizito Muchemwa and Robert Muponde. Both of them give their own views of literary developments and writers' positioning in the Zimbabwean society.