Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Julius Chingono

It is with sadness that we have learnt that Julius Sekai Chingono, the much loved poet and prose writer, died at Norton General Hospital on January 2.

Born in 1946 on a commercial farm near Harare, Julius spent much of his working life as a rock blaster in the mines. He wrote in both Shona and English, and won awards for poems written in both languages.

Julius had five books published: one play, Ruvimbo; one novel, Chipo Changu; two poetry collections, Flag of Rags and Kazwi; and one collection of short stories and poetry, Not Another Day.

Together, a collection of poems and stories by Julius and John Eppel, is to be published early in 2011 by 'amaBooks, and co-published in the USA by the University of New Orleans Press.

His poem They are picked was chosen by New Internationalist for their collection Fire in the Soul, of the best 100 human rights poems from across the world over the last 100 years.

Julius read his poetry at various international festivals, including the Poetry International Festival in the Netherlands, Poetry Africa in Durban, and the Shaari International Poetry Festival in Israel.

We first got to know Julius during the Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo in 2007. One particularly memorable occasion was the 'Dinner with Poetry' at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, when he read from his work between courses, together with the Welsh poet Lloyd Robson and with John Eppel, based in Bulawayo. The poets appreciated each others' work and the idea of a joint collection between Julius and John was born. Julius contributed a short story and a poem to Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe and five memorable poems to the collection Intwasa Poetry, and it was his poems in this book that brought his work to the attention of the University of New Orleans Press, and hence the co-publication of Together. Julius was very excited about his joint publication with John, and with his work becoming available in the USA. It is tragic that Julius will not be around to see the finished product but we are pleased that more of his work, both poems and short stories, will be available.

Julius was able to cock a snook at those that abused their power through his writing. His humour and his feeling for the oppressed will live on.

From Together:

No Funeral

When I die

no gathering

no fires

or chairs around fires

no wake

no gloating

no fussing.

Do not cry

over my carcass.

Do not sigh

over my excesses.

Life is not

what you make it

it is

what it makes

of itself.

Before disposal of my corpse

no vigil

no singing

no drumming

sniffing forbidden

no mourning

no moaning

no speeches

no ceremony

no cadaver viewing

no funeral

no coffin

or tin to contain

my remains.

Shove me in

a hessian sack,

throw it in a deep hole,

cover the hole

with rocks and soil.

Disperse forthwith.


  1. Such a lovely tribute. And that poem is hauntingly beautiful, a fitting way to send of this great man.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. beautiful poem. and only getting to know him at this time.