Chenjerai Hove - IWP Fellow 2008

Widely regarded as a leading figure of post-colonial Zimbabwean literature, Chenjerai Hove is the author of four novels – Bones, Shadows, Ancestors, and, in his native Shona, Masimba Avanhu (Is This the People’s Power?), as well as of three volumes of poetry, books of essays, and freelance journalism.  He has lived in exile since 2001, after his writings, especially Masimba Avanhu and a play, Sister, Sing Again Someday (both of which address the situation of women in Zimbabwe), as well as his criticism of the policies of President Robert Mugabe, brought him to the attention of the Zimbabwe government.   

As a consequence of his literary, journalistic, and political activities, Hove’s house was broken into and his computers, along with discs containing unpublished works, were stolen.  His family was threatened and he was under constant surveillance by the police.  He left Zimbabwe in 2001 with the help of the International Parliament of Writers, who found him a temporary placement in France. He later relocated to Stavanger, Norway, where he was a guest writer through the International Cities of Refuge Network, an organization that aids endangered and exiled writers.

Hove has been the recipient of many honors, including a 1987 Zimbabwe Writing Award, a 1989 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, and a 2001 German-Afrika Award for contributing to freedom of expression through his work as a newspaper columnist.  He was a founder and board member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, and from  1984 to 1992 was president of the Zimbabwe Writers Union.  “When I take up my pen to write,” Hove has said, “I feel the strength of standing up and refusing to be silent.  In an oppressive situation, silence is death.”