Remembering Charles Mungoshi: Family, Discontent and Dystopia

Keywords: Charles Mungoshi; Zimbabwean literature; memorialisation; family; childhood; lone parenting


This article suggests that as part of memorialising Charles Mungoshi, we should reflect on his area of specialty—family, a primary site for the exploration of dominance and subordination within the social unit, particularly the father-son dyad. Through the family trope, Mungoshi reveals that the performance of familyhood can create rancour and conflict, particularly filial rebellion. Dismissed in nationalist criticism as writing of hopelessness, Mungoshi’s enduring interest in strife-ridden dystopic families explores overt and subtle ways of challenging paterfamilial oppression in the family as a micro unit and not so much at the level of nationhood. The article also examines childhood in the context of lone parenting and concludes that Mungoshi, through comparison, mocks the stigma of deficiency and moral deviancy usually attached to this family form. Overall, Mungoshi’s concerted focus on familial discord and contestation is meant to question foundational assumptions about family and its related concepts in the criticism of Zimbabwean literature.