Top Zimbabwean Writer Dies While On Exile Norway

One of Zimbabwe's leading writers, Chenjerai Hove, died in exile in Norway, a Zimbabwe writers' group confirmed Monday.

The Zimbabwe Writers Association said it had received "the sad news" that Hove died on Sunday in Norway at 59.

"He had a well-known passion for peace, human rights and the dignity of all people," said Memory Chirere, secretary general of the writers' organization.

An award-winning poet and novelist whose work largely portrayed the struggles of Zimbabwe's powerless groups, Hove came into conflict with President Robert Mugabe by writing newspaper columns sharply critical of the government.

He left Zimbabwe for France in 2001 at the height of Zimbabwe's political tumult, claiming he had received death threats. He later relocated to Norway through the International Cities of Refuge Network, which on its website says it offers shelter to writers and artists at risk for advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity.

Hove is best-known for, "Bones," a novel published in 1988 about people's memories of the war against white-minority rule and the years after the conflict. He wrote four novels, as well as poems and plays. He was a founding board member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association in 1990.

He won the Zimbabwe Literary Award in 1987 and the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa in 1989 for "Bones," and the German-Africa Award for freedom of expression in 2001.

While in exile he was an International Writers Project fellow at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

In April last year Hove told Radio VOP, a privately-owned Zimbabwean radio station that broadcasts from outside the country, that returning home would mean more harassment for him. "If I were to go tomorrow it will become worse because I will be criticizing more," he said.
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