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Charles Mungoshi

If you don't stay bitter
for too long

More challenging questions!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 1 March 2014
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This poem looks at the inner spirit of mankind, but especially the poet's own society which could remain bitter and angry forever at its treatment at the hands of the former colonial power.

This anger, he says, is quite unnecessary. Indeed, if one surveys the world from the vantage of a positive mind, one might see all sorts of advantages and things to be joyful about. It is purely a matter of the mind and of perspective.


Charles Mungoshi was born of farming parents in Rhodesia -- now Zimbabwe -- in 1947. He is regarded as one of his country's most prominent writers.

He has written novels, short stories and poetry, using both the Shona and English languages.

It has been said that his work deals subtly with the cultural complexities of Zimbabwe, and especially of the conflict between the younger and older generations as well as the different rural and urban loyalties.

From 1975 to 1981, Mungoshi worked for the Literature Bureau of Zimbabwe as an editor, and then joined the Zimbabwe Publishing House.

Later he become the "Writer in Residence" at the University of Zimbabwe. After that, however, he tended to work freelance.

It has been said that Mungoshi's poetry paints a "multi-layered world of meaning" in which he uses a short and condensed style of writing.

It has also been said that his poetry rarely makes socio-political statements but this is questionable. Indeed, his socio-political comments are sometimes hidden in what appears to be a rather simple comment on reality.

His writings have won him several awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Zimbabwe.

Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:

  • What is the TONE of this poem? (4)

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  • Comment on the poet's style of writing. (10)

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  • What message is the poet proposing? (2)

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  • Comment on the poet's use of the personal pronoun "you" throughout this poem. (4)

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  • Is there any point to the use of the lower case throughout the poem? (4)

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"Mungoshi's poetry has generally been perceived as rarely making socio-political statements."
  • What is meant by a "socio-political statement". (2)

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  • Is the above statement true in the context of this poem? In other words, is the poet making any socio-political statements here? (4)

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