Dambudzo Marechera died in 1987, shortly after a classmate of mine in Zvishavane introduced me to House of Hunger. Most of the scenes I remember vividly are the ones from my first reading of the book when I was in Form 3. I remember liking the description of the character’s fight with a group of white students at the then University of Rhodesia, all because they had caught him walking with his white girlfriend. I found his selection of words in describing the fight captivating; then I also fell in love with the descriptions of Chimurenga, and student life. My school then did not have any student activism,perhaps there was not motivation anymore since the students were enjoying the fruits (euphoria) of independence.
Years later, I found myself reading the book over and over again in New Complex 3 at UZ, sometimes in the Students Union, trying to connect my days with the author’s, and someone, a British scholar, had already exposed me to the banned-in-Zimbabwe (back then)Black Sunlight. Nice stuff; nice stuff. We all (most students did), got hooked to Marechera as the measure of radical rhetoric. I connected with his work in that anxiety-of-influence way Bloom talks about, always worrying that all I could ever dream to write about had already been exhausted by Marechera. But no, there is so much that the man had no opportunity to cover due to his early departure. So I forgot about August 18? Could it be because of the (my current) focus on the late Christopher Okigbo who is being remembered at the same time? No, I was just too busy developing the Marechera legacy; in short, I was working on my poetry, and reading Marechera’s Symetry of Mind for inspiration!