Harare – The late Zimbabwean author and actor Charles Mungoshi, who died on Saturday, has been described as a distinguished and prolific writer.

Top academic, fellow author, and former deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe Professor Arthur Mutambara said Mungoshi’s demise was a significant loss to the creative industry.

“A literary giant has fallen. The creative industry, literature, and the Zimbabwean nation have lost a pillar. The influence of Mungoshi’s work cuts across generations, continents, and cultures. A distinguished and prolific writer, an iconic author, our national contribution to the world of literature,” said Mutambara.

“His works will never die. As we mourn him, let us address the contradictions and disconnects in the political economy of the publishing industry, and the creative industry in general, that short-change our artists and writers,” he said.

The renowned author and actor Mungoshi died at the age of 71 in a Harare hospital, his family said on Saturday.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing away of our dearly beloved father Dr Charles Mungoshi. He had been ill for 10 years from a neurological condition to which he succumbed this morning [Saturday] at Parirenyatwa Hospital,” the family said in a statement.

“He was a prolific and multi-award winning novelist, poet, short story writer, [and] actor who was internationally recognised and celebrated. He published 18 books, which include Waiting for the Rain (1975), Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva (1975), Makunun’unu Maodza Moyo (1970), The Milkman Doesn’t Only Deliver Milk (1981), Inongova Njake Njake(1980), Coming of the Dry Season (1972), Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness (2013).”

Among other accolades, Mungoshi twice won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize of Best Book in Africa and was subsequently invited to meet the Queen of England, Elizabeth II. One of his poems was put on permanent display as public art at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s new headquarters in Seattle, Washington state, in the US in 2011.

In 2003 he was conferred an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Zimbabwe after winning multiple awards, which included Zimbabwe’s 75 best books, where he appeared in the top five lists in both the Shona and English categories.

“We were honoured to have Dr Mungoshi, a quiet, deeply loving and caring husband to Jesesi, father to Farai, Graham, Nyasha, Charles, and Tsitsi, and a grandfather to seven young and lovely grandchildren. Funeral details will be shared in due course,” the Mungoshi family statement said.

African News Agency/ANA