Internationally-acclaimed author, ex-combatant and deputy editor of weekly newspaper The Patriot, Alexander Gora Kanengoni (65), has died.
Kanengoni collapsed and died at his Warren Park home in Harare early yesterday morning after complaining of chest pains.
He is survived by his wife Gladys and five children — Tawanda (36), Elizabeth (33), Josephine (32), Tinashe (30) and Letisha (27)
Mrs Gladys Kanengoni said her husband started complaining of chest pains on Monday and these got worse on Tuesday morning when he was rushed to hospital around 3am.
“He was actually talking and walking on his own and was given a prescription. We bought the prescribed medication and returned home. He actually said he was feeling better after taking the medication,” said Mrs Kanengoni.
She said she was startled when she heard a sharp gasping noise coming from her bedroom when she had gone to take a bath. She rushed back to the bedroom and discovered her husband lying prostrate with his legs on the floor while his upper body was on the bed.
An ambulance medical team, which arrived at the house a few minutes later, pronounced him dead after all efforts to resuscitate him failed. Mrs Kanengoni said her husband suffered from hypertension and was also diabetic.
Family spokesperson and a cousin, Mr Cyprian Nyamushamba, said burial arrangements would be announced in due course after consultation with other relatives and the Government.
Mr Nyamushamba described Kanengoni as a forthright person even when he was a teenager.
“We grew up together. He trained as a teacher between 1971 and 1972 and taught at Mufakose around 1974 before crossing to Mozambique,” said Mr Nyamushamba.
His youngest son, Tinashe, said his father was the cornerstone upon which the Kanengoni family was sustained.
“I have lost someone who was more than a father but a mentor, a freedom fighter, a nationalist, a writer and a unifier.
“His loss is more painful because his death was so sudden and we least expected that we would lose him like this,” said Tinashe.
He said most of his sisters got the writing bug from their father, who was an exceptional story teller endowed with an excellent command of both English and Shona.
Kanengoni’s war time friend, Canaan Mugadzawetu, whose Chimurenga name was Brooks Chinembiri, said he briefly stayed with Kanengoni at Nyadzonia in 1975 before the camp was attacked.
“We later separated as he went to Morogoro and I went to Mgagao. He had a commanding presence and a strong character. He has never waived in his support of the revolutionary Zanu-PF and is what you would call a true patriot,” said Mugadzawetu.
Another comrade who was also with him during the liberation struggle, Bruce Makoto, said he first met him at Doroie in Mozambique in 1976 when he was coming from the front.
“He was the deputy commander to former Zanu-PF Chief Whip Cde Moses Mvenge whose Chimurenga name was Cde Hambakwe. He was the base political commissar and was responsible for the teaching of all political education,” said Makoto.
Makoto said Kanengoni was among the leaders who were heavily involved in the Vashandi, a group of young Marxist cadres advocating a more radical approach in the execution of the liberation struggle.
“He was detained during the struggle together with Dzinashe Machingura, Henry Hamadziripi, Parker Chipoyera, Doctor Taderera, Augustine “Chocha” Chihuri, Rugare Gumbo, Happison Muchechetere and others,” said Makoto.
In a condolence message, Zimbabwe Writers Association secretary-general Memory Chirere said the association had learnt with shock the passing on of Kanengoni.
“We wish to express our deepest condolences to his family and relatives and to his colleagues and admirers at home and across the world on this sad loss.
“Alexander Kanengoni (was) one of Zimbabwe’s internationally renowned writers and essayists, most known for his war novels, amongst them ‘Vicious Circle’, ‘When The Rain Bird Cries’ and the inimitable ‘Echoing Silences’ and a collection of short stories called ‘Effortless Tears’,” said Chirere.
Chirere said Kanengoni wrote about the struggle for self-determination and the difficult conditions of the formerly colonised.
Born on September 17, 1951 Kanengoni trained as a teacher and briefly taught at several schools before joining the liberation struggle in 1974.
After the country attained independence in 1980, he went to the University of Zimbabwe and majored in English Literature. In 1983 he joined the Ministry of Education and Culture as a project officer responsible for the education of ex-combatants and refugees.
In 1988 he joined the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation and worked there until 2002 when he became a farmer and deputy editor of The Patriot weekly newspaper.
As writer, he published ‘Vicious Circle’ (1983), ‘When the Rainbird Cries’ (1988), ‘Echoing Silences’ (1997), a collection of short stories ‘Effortless Tears’ (1993) and ‘Writing Still’ (2003).
A former ZANLA combatant leader, Kanengoni remained steadfast in defence of Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and nationalistic ideals through his inceptive writings that illuminated on the broader dynamics of the liberation struggle.
Mourners are gathered at number 158-12th Crescent Warren Park D. The Herald