News Brief

Celebrated Zimbabwean Playwright Stephen Chifunyise Has Passed Away

The acclaimed playwright and culturalist was 70 years old.

Zimbabwean playwright Stephen Chifunyise, best known for developing young talent, has passed away, ZimLive reports.

Chifunyise died Monday at the age of 70.

Born in 1948, he began his journey in the arts while in exile in Zambia during the 1970s, BBC adds. After earning his masters degree in theatre arts in the United States, Chifunyise returned to Zimbabwe after independence in 1980.

In the midst of serving as the permanent secretary for education sport and culture, he co-founded the Children's Performing Arts Workshop (Chipawo) in 1989—where the likes of Danai Gurira had the opportunity to have their talents developed at a young age.


"He was a cultural scholar whose creative wisdom shall be dearly missed," Kgosi Nyathi, director of Bulawayo Art Gallery, says to ZimLive. "The arts fraternity is poorer."

Chifunyise penned a total of 73 plays, where 63 were performed on stage, radio and TV in Zambia, Zimababwe, Sweden, South Africa, Malawi, India and the UK, BBC reports. Several of his scripts in the 1970s were broadcast on Zambian television and were produced by Rooftop Promotions theatre company in Zimbabwe.

This 2009 clip from AP Archive follows Chifunyise and his play, Heal The Wounds, which was his contribution to reckon with the healing that needed to occur after the June 2008 political violence in Zimbabwe.

"You have people arguing and talking after seeing the play—that is what we want if we are going to archive reconciliation or national healing, where the people can argue about the processes and the ideas and the ideology that is being propounded on achieving national healing and reconciliation," he says in the video. "So I think theatre in intents and purposes has an advantage over medium."

Watch below.

The prolific Zimbabwean cultural icon will be missed.

Yilian Canizares & Paul Beaubrun in "Noyé." Photo: Ben Depp.

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