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Marechera and the Colonel
By David Caute
Today Zimbabwe’s suffering shocks the world. Warning lights flash through Marechera ‘s exuberant fiction, drama and poetry. Here was a young writer whose challenging questions constantly provoked the authorities. As Nadine Gordimer admiringly remarked, he stuck his neck out while others were reluctant to open their mouths. Marechera’s writing blisters every totem pole. He took delight in satirizing the “chefs” of the post-liberation years. One of them, the incensed Colonel of the title, beat him up in a hotel lavatory. The political arm of the police, the CIO, locked him up without charge.
The author’s personal encounters with Marechera offer an affectionate but unblinking portrait of the writer and his self-destructive lifestyle. Tracking his writing, published and not. Caute explores his childhood, education and tumultuous years in Britain. In this freewheeling report, the man and his art, the reality and the myth, merge within an exhilarating imagination tragically extinguished by death in 1987
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