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Jesesi, a steely dedicated wife

By Mtandazo Dube

“Waiting for the Rain” may be a metaphorical title of a book symbolising the expectation of an entire nation, but Jesesi Mungoshi, widow of celebrated literary giant, Dr Charles Mungoshi, has waited for the rain a long time.

Charles Mungoshi and wife Jesesi
Charles Mungoshi and wife Jesesi

For the past 10 years, in Jesesi’s world, it never rained as her husband fought a losing battle against a debilitating neurological disorder. It has been a decade harvest of a ‘Dry Season’.

Her husband’s sickness cost her more than just good quality life or a thriving career.

For the past 10 years, she has been nursing Dr Mungoshi, using every opportunity to raise funds for his medical needs.

A great talent, Jesesi found herself unable to fully pursue her own works.

Three weeks ago, after giving a tear-jerking eulogy at Dr Oliver Mtukudzi’s funeral wake, whom she starred alongside in 1993 movie, “Neria”, Jesesi asked a fellow mourner to sing her the iconic soundtrack.

The song, composed by the late Dr Mtukudzi, consoles a widow suffering the loss of a husband.

As Jesesi prepares to bury her husband, who died yesterday morning at Parirenyatwa Hospital, one wonders if she knew she would need consoling 21 days later.

Last week, as Dr Mungoshi battled for life at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, where he finally died, Jesesi continued to fight, with an auction for “Branching Streams Flow in the Dark” planned to raise money for hospital bills.

This had become her life since Dr Mungoshi’s battle with ill-health started in 2006 when he collapsed.

Four years later, in 2010, he would give her a scare, when he was hospitalised at Chitungwiza South Medical Hospital after suffering a mild stroke, which nearly paralysed him.

He stayed in a comma for almost two months, which saw him lose his memory. Jesesi said at one point she even thought he was dead.

She received help from different people for hospital bills, including from Government, which helped pay his bills at St Giles where Dr Mungoshi was undergoing physiotherapy sessions.

People like Ignatius Mabasa and Albert Nyathi among others also chipped in. The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and its parent ministry also assisted after his release from hospital.

Jesesi even arranged that Dr Mungoshi go to South Africa for treatment as he had problems with his speech and balance when walking.

The battle would never fully be won.

In 2016, the Mungoshi family embarked on a book sale campaign of “Branching Streams Flow in the Dark”, Dr Mungoshi’s last offering.

In 2018, Jesesi and her son, Charles Mungoshi Jnr, sold the book in Harare at the National Art Gallery as they continued to raise money for Dr Mungoshi’s medical bills.

The family even made fliers to attract customers for the book.

Only death would defeat Jesesi – and yesterday – it finally did. Ill-health and now death, may have muzzled Dr Mungoshi’s pen, but he remains one of the greatest writers to have had ever emerged from the African literary landscape.

His pen may have dried while he still breathed, but his genius will forever be cherished in the literary world.

It is quite hard to determine Mungoshi’s best work but his timeless text: “Waiting for the Rain” has left a permanent imprint on the Zimbabwean literary landscape and an inspiration to many.

Go well, Dr Mungoshi, you fought a good fight. Sunday Mail.