For the first time ever, literary fans around the world can access original letters, manuscripts and notes by the late Dambudzo Marechera in a new online archive which has just been published by Humboldt University in Germany.
The basis of the project is a comprehensive physical archive of Dambudzo Marechera’s estate, established at Humboldt University in Berlin.
This was made possible after the late Zimbabwean writer’s literary executor and biographer, Flora Veit-Wild, who was a professor of African literature at Humboldt up to 2012, donated her Marechera archive to the institution.
The archive comprises all the manuscripts which Marechera left behind at the time of his death in 1987, as well as a multitude of documents and photographs relating to his life and work, such as transcripts of interviews, letters, school records, Veit-Wild’s research notebook and many more.
Many of the original documents were deposited at the National Archives of Zimbabwe in 1992, and so most of the written work in Berlin consists of photocopies.
The total of 23 folders and boxes are held at the departmental library of Asian and African Studies of Humboldt University and can be searched for under ‘Dambudzo Marechera Archive’ through the university library’s electronic catalogue.
Researchers can request access to the physical material in the Rara collection. The library also houses a complete, open-access collection of all of Marechera’s published works, including translations into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Swedish and all the different editions of his first book, ‘The House of Hunger.’
In addition to the physical archive, a digital Dambudzo Marechera Media Repository has been established, which includes scans of the majority of documents and photographs and in addition, full versions of all the audio and video material featuring Marechera or related to this life and work, such as the Chris Austin ‘House of Hunger’ film of the early 1980s.
The physical archive together with the digital repository and the collection of all published Marechera editions represents a unique fundus for research on a writer who during his short life radically changed the literary landscape of Africa and remains up to today a legendary inspiration for masses of worldwide followers.
Veit-Wild, in 2012, finally confirmed a long suspected romantic link with Marechera, stating that she did indeed have an affair with the writer while she was married. When a doctor told her Marechera was HIV positive in 1987 she went on to get tested and was afraid to tell her husband. She too was found to be HIV positive.
Marechera died in August 1987 and Veit-Wild has been the biggest proponent of his work around the world.
The Marechera Digital Archive
at Humboldt University
To access the online Marechera archive please click here.