Kristina Rungano, poet and short-story writer, was born in Harare, Zimbabwe and grew up near Kuatama Mission. She attended Catholic-run boarding schools in Selous and Harare, studied management in Britain, and is working on a doctoral degree in computing and mathematics at South Bank University, London.
Rungano is Zimbabwe’s first published female poet, and A Storm Is Brewing (1984) is her first collection. She has since contributed poems to the anthologies Daughters of Africa (1992) and The Heinemann Book of African Women’s Poetry (1995) and written short stories. Although she views her poetry primarily as a means of self-release, her themes are resonant: self-exploration, aspects of womanhood, love, loneliness, alienation, and war are among her subjects. Her enduring strengths include her ability to capture inwardly felt experience using a variety of personae.
Rino ZhuwararaThis profile, written by professor Rino Zhuwarara, was drawn from The Companion to African Literatures edited by Douglas Killiam and Ruth Rowe and published by James Currey, Oxford 2000.
Kristina Rungano is an enigmatic figure in Zimbabwean literary circles. Her first book A Storm is Brewing was published by Zimbabwe Publishing House, Harare, in 1984, when she was only twenty-one. Leaving the country shortly afterwards, it seems she has absented herself, in body if not in memory. Many times over the last twenty years, I have been asked, “Do you know where we can find Kristina Rungano?” and now, over the last weeks, I have been asking the question myself, and the reply comes with a shaking head.
Her book has been long out of print, but we are pleased to be able to offer our readers a small selection of ten poems, which provide a discreet sample of a young poet of great promise. Rungano’s lyricism is driven by a passion to explore and expose injustice – the woman who says, “You beat me and had your way” knowing full well that “tomorrow I shall again wake up to you/ Milk the cow, plough the land and cook your food,” and bear these burdens into perpetuity, for after all it is you who are the “fruit of the land”.
Injustice against women, the poor and downtrodden, are revealed in penetrating images excoriating the hypocrisy and self-satisfaction of the rich, and pitted again her understanding of humanity and its potential, of love, and its caress, for as Rungano tells us it is the latter, which in memory, has “chauffered my life”.
We hope that you will enjoy these poems of the young Kristina Rungano. We hope too that this page may help us find her. If anyone knows where she is, or knows anything about her willingness to share our offering of her poems, please contact us.
A Storm is Brewing. Zimbabwe Publishing House, Harare 1984.
Daughters of Africa. Heinemann, 1992.
Heinemann Book of African Women’s Poetry. Heinemann, 1995.