Dambudzo Marechera Archive at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Flora Veit-Wild and Dambudzo Marechera in
Harare (August 1985)
Figure: Lourdes Mugica Arruti
A comprehensive archive of Dambudzo Marechera’s estate has been established at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (HU). It was handed over by Marechera’s literary executor and biographer, Flora Veit-Wild, professor of African literature at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin up to 2012. The archive comprises all the manuscripts that 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, among them transcripts of interviews, letters, school records, Veit-Wild’s research notebook and many more. Since the original documents were deposited at the National Archives of Zimbabwe in 1992, most of the written corpus in Berlin consists of photocopies.
The twenty-three folders and boxes are held at the departmental library of Asian and African Studies of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 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.
Film and documentary available
In addition to the physical archive, a digital Dambudzo Marechera Media Repository has been set up, which includes scans of the majority of documents and photographs and full versions of all the audio and video material with or about Marechera; among them Chris Austin’s “House of Hunger” film and Olley Maruma’s documentary “After the Hunger and Drought”. The Media Repository can be accessed online. A display of selected exhibits from the archive can be viewed at the Department of African Studies situated in Berlin-Mitte, Invalidenstrasse 118, 4th floor.
African literature would not be the same without the appearance of Dambudzo Marechera who during his short life time from 1952 to 1987 turned the tenets of African literature upside down. The Berlin Archive and Media Repository together with the complete stock of Marechera books represent a unique achievement in preserving the legacy of a writer who, since his death, has become an inspiration and literary cult figure for multitudes of readers, academics and fans, far beyond the African continent.
Prof. Dr. Susanne Gehrmann
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut for Asian and African Studies
Phone: +49 (0) 30 2093-66022