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November 02 2016

Artwatch Africa Award | Moving Tribute to Chenjerai Hove by Writer’s Daughter

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"It would be inappropriate to say that my father is dead because he continues to live in each of us, especially in us, his children." - Tafadzwa Rangarira

Upon receiving the Artwatch Africa Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her father, the daughter of the Zimbabwean author, Chenjerai Hove, delivered a strong and moving tribute to her father’s enduring work.

Chenjerai Hove | The Mosquito Who Will Buzz Forever
During her speech, Tafadzwa Rangarira, shared private reminiscences of her father and in elaborating on his crucial role as an author, she evoked the West African folktale, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears - an allusion that Chenjerai Hove himself used frequently. She explained, borrowing words from Hove himself, “Writers are like mosquitoes. Just as the heroes in literature are the ants and not the elephants... Chenjerai was a mosquito whose sting will never, ever lose its potency.”

Chenjerai Hove is part of that special category of artists who have not been corrupted by a system, choosing instead to defend in words what he believes in and put to paper what people are thinking - even if those private thoughts are not to everyone's taste. Quoting her father, Rangarira explained that, “freedom of expression is important and crucial, but freedom after expression is better.”

Hove’s essay Beautiful Words Are Subversive forms part of the original compilation by Artwatch Africa that was released in September 2016, titled How Free is Free? Reflections on Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa. His essay delves into the debate on censorship, politics and the role of the artist. His words ring true and make a lasting, unforgettable impression because as he puts it, “A good book is not like a banana whose skin you throw away after eating the flesh. A good book is one that refuses to be forgotten since it enriches the reader’s present and nourishes the reader’s past and gives flowers to the future of the meaning of human existence.”

Through his work, Chenjerai Hove cannot be forgotten because he contributed to a universal dream for a better future, and urged his readers to see that tomorrow is not preordained. Hove is a man whose literary career and humility are worth recognition - especially as a committed ally in the fight for freedom of creative expression.

“… For, to write is to remember. To write is to think. To write is to reinvent a world which could be easily erased from human memory for the convenience of those in power… For a writer, life is made of images and symbols, just as it was in the beginning, and the word became flesh… Art hates stagnation!... The validity of a democracy is measured, in my own personal view, according to how small voices are protected… I cherish to have my words, my language, help shape the dreams and aspirations of those who read my work.”  - Chenjerai Hove, Beautiful Words Are Subversive (2015)

For her part, Tafadzwa Rangarira, who is a Human Rights lawyer, announced her recent membership of Arterial Network in order to continue the work of her father. Echoing both his words, and those of Mamou Daffe, Arterial Network Chairperson, she said: “We are not done with the dream. We are not done with development.”

National Heroes of the Arts Honoured by Arterial Network Zimbabwe
The Artwatch Africa Lifetime Achievement Award to Chenjerai Hove was presented on Saturday the 29th of October 2016 at Theatre in the Park, Harare, during the Arterial Network General Council Closing Ceremony. During the same evening, the Arterial Network Zimbabwe team, with the support of the U.S. Embassy, celebrated some of Zimbabwe's national treasures of art and culture with honorary awards, namely Cont Mhlanga (actor, playwright and director), Stephen Chifunyise (education, arts and culture consultant), Dr. Oliver Mtukudzi (musician), Tsitsi Dangarembga (writer and director) and Pathisa Nyathi (author).

Cont Mhlanga

Stephen Chifunyise

To download the Artwatch Africa e-book in English, click here. To download the e-book in French, click here.

Photo Credit: Takudzwa Chihambakwe

Artwatch Africa Lifetime Achievement Award created by artist Nomusa Mtshali (South Africa)

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