An Elaborate Analysis of Charles Mungoshi's Coming of the Dry Season

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Charles Mungoshi, a celebrated Zimbabwean writer, poet, and playwright, crafted narratives that delve deeply into the complexities of human existence and post-colonial life in Zimbabwe. Writing in both English and Shona, his works often tackled themes of oppression, identity, and societal transformation. Mungoshi’s literary prowess earned him multiple accolades, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Africa Region) in 1988 and 1998, and the International PEN Awards for two of his novels published in 1975. His short story collection "Some Kind of Wounds" was so powerful in its critique of the colonial regime that it was banned in Rhodesia. Among his most significant works is the short story collection "Coming of the Dry Season," which vividly portrays the struggles and moral dilemmas of ordinary Zimbabweans during a time of social and political upheaval.

Plot Summary and Character Analysis

"Coming of the Dry Season" resonates with themes of love, parenthood, survival, and personal conflict. The narrative centers around Moab, the protagonist, whose life in the urban milieu of Zimbabwe mirrors the tensions and challenges faced by many in post-colonial Africa. Moab's journey is marked by his interactions with two pivotal characters: his ailing mother and Chipo, a woman who symbolizes both temptation and redemption.

The story begins with Moab receiving the distressing news of his mother's grave illness. Despite his intention to visit her after receiving his pay, Moab squanders his money on frivolous pursuits with his friends and Chipo over the weekend. This impulsive behavior sets off a cascade of regret and self-reproach as Moab grapples with his inability to fulfill his obligations to his mother.

Moab's relationship with his mother is fraught with tension and unmet expectations. She seeks his constant presence and support, which Moab finds overwhelming. His mother’s demands seem insatiable, and Moab struggles to reconcile his responsibilities with his desire for independence. This dynamic is emblematic of the broader societal pressures and familial expectations that weigh heavily on individuals navigating the complexities of modern life.

Chipo, on the other hand, represents a different kind of conflict and potential for growth in Moab’s life. Initially seen as a distraction and a drain on his resources, Chipo's final act of returning the money Moab gave her suggests a deeper longing for genuine connection and stability. Her gesture forces Moab to confront his own shortcomings and the emptiness of his pursuits.

Analysis of "The Accident" From Coming of the Dry Season by Charles Mungoshi

The Accident is another story in this collection of short story by Charles Mungoshi "The Accident" is not a graphic portrayal of a car crash, but a powerful commentary on the simmering racial tensions that festered under colonial rule in Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). Mungoshi, through his detached and almost clinical narration, compels readers to confront the dehumanization of the Black victim and the underlying power dynamics at play.

The story opens without fanfare. We witness a crowd gathering around a prone figure – a Black man struck down by a car. Details are sparse, the focus shifting not to the accident itself, but to the reactions of the onlookers. Whispers and speculations fill the air, highlighting the lack of empathy towards the victim. Mungoshi's use of fragmented sentences and a shifting narrative voice heightens the sense of chaos and confusion surrounding the event.

The arrival of the police, portrayed as efficient and almost emotionless, stands in stark contrast to the emotional turmoil of the crowd. This disparity reflects the power imbalance between the races – the white authorities maintaining control, while the Black onlookers remain powerless observers.

Mungoshi doesn't dwell on the identity of the driver or the specifics of the accident. This deliberate omission forces the reader to confront the broader issue at hand. The Black man is reduced to a collection of broken limbs and soiled clothing – his humanity stripped away. This dehumanization serves as a stark reminder of the racial biases embedded within the colonial system.

Rumors swirl about the cause of the accident – was the victim drunk? Was he jaywalking? These whispers, fueled by prejudice, shift the blame away from the white driver and onto the victim himself. This manipulation of truth is another potent symbol of the power dynamics at play.

As the story unfolds, a sense of resignation and powerlessness permeates the narrative. The crowd eventually disperses, leaving the victim to his fate. This lack of intervention reflects the hopelessness that many Black people felt under colonial rule. They were voiceless and powerless to challenge the system or demand justice.

"The Accident" may be a brief story, but its impact is undeniable. Mungoshi, through his masterful use of symbolism and a detached narrative style, lays bare the racial tensions and the dehumanization that existed under colonial rule. The story compels readers to confront uncomfortable truths and serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial equality.


Charles Mungoshi's "Coming of the Dry Season" is not merely a collection of short stories – it's a searing portrait of life in colonial Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). Published in a time when his writing challenged the status quo, Mungoshi masterfully weaves together tales of ordinary people grappling with love, loss, societal pressures, and the lingering effects of colonialism. This evocative collection, banned during the Rhodesian era, remains a powerful testament to the human spirit's resilience in the face of hardship.

A Tapestry of Lives: Stepping into "Coming of the Dry Season" is like entering a bustling marketplace. Each story introduces us to a new character, a new struggle. Moab, burdened by the weight of responsibility towards his ailing mother, clashes with his desire for independence. Chipo, a woman shrouded in mystery, becomes both a source of temptation and a potential catalyst for change in Moab's life. Through these interconnected narratives, Mungoshi paints a vivid picture of a society in transition.

The Scars of Colonialism: The shadow of colonialism looms large over the collection. Characters grapple with displacement, loss of cultural identity, and the struggle to reconcile traditional values with the pressures of modernity. Mungoshi doesn't shy away from depicting the harsh realities of racial oppression and the power imbalances that permeated Rhodesian society. Stories like "The Accident" offer a chilling glimpse into the dehumanization of Black people and the simmering racial tensions that existed under colonial rule.

Beyond Survival: The Human Spirit Endures: Despite the bleakness that pervades some stories, "Coming of the Dry Season" is ultimately a testament to the human spirit's ability to endure. Characters like Ncaref, a widower struggling to raise his children, find solace in community and the simple act of storytelling. Love, though often fraught with complications, also emerges as a powerful force. Moab's internal conflict exposes the complex web of emotions that bind families together, even in the face of hardship.

Mungoshi's Masterful Storytelling: Mungoshi's prose is both raw and evocative. He employs a minimalist style, allowing the characters and their struggles to take center stage. Vivid imagery captures the harsh realities of urban life, while symbolic elements, like the relentless dry season itself, underscore the feelings of barrenness and despair faced by some characters.

A Legacy that Endures: "Coming of the Dry Season" continues to resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Mungoshi's unflinching portrayal of a bygone era offers valuable insights into the social and political landscape of pre-independence Zimbabwe. But more importantly, it reminds us of the universal human struggles – the search for love, the burden of responsibility, and the fight for a better future. This collection stands as a testament to the enduring power of literature to illuminate the human condition and bridge the gaps between cultures and times.

Additional Themes

1. Post-Colonial Oppression and Identity: Mungoshi’s narrative explores the lingering effects of colonialism on the personal and societal levels. The characters' struggles reflect the broader issues of displacement, loss of cultural identity, and the impact of Western influences on traditional values.

2. Family and Responsibility: The story delves into the complexities of familial obligations and the often conflicting desires for personal freedom and duty. Moab’s relationship with his mother highlights the generational tensions and the burden of expectations placed on individuals by their families.

3. Survival and Moral Choices: Moab’s actions are driven by his immediate needs and desires, leading to a pattern of self-destructive behavior. The narrative examines how survival instincts and moral choices intersect, often leading to profound consequences for the characters.

4. Love and Redemption: Chipo’s character introduces the theme of redemption and the possibility of change. Her return of the money and her departure signify a turning point for Moab, prompting him to reflect on his life and the choices he has made.

5. Urbanization and Alienation: The setting of the story in an urban environment underscores the alienation and dislocation experienced by those who migrate to the city in search of better opportunities. Moab’s struggles in the city highlight the challenges of adapting to a new and often hostile environment.

Structure and Form

The story’s structure is linear, following Moab’s experiences over a few days as he navigates his internal and external conflicts. Mungoshi’s use of a first-person narrative allows for an intimate exploration of Moab’s thoughts and feelings, providing insight into his motivations and vulnerabilities. The prose is straightforward yet evocative, capturing the essence of the characters’ struggles and the bleakness of their circumstances.

Literary Devices

1. Symbolism: The dry season itself is symbolic of barrenness and hardship, mirroring the emotional and moral desert that Moab finds himself in. The recurring references to wine, women, and “weed” symbolize the temptations and distractions that pull Moab away from his responsibilities.

2. Irony: There is a poignant irony in Moab’s plight. Despite his efforts to escape his mother’s demands, he finds himself trapped by his own actions and decisions. The return of Chipo and her rejection of the money Moab gave her is another ironic twist, highlighting the emptiness of his pursuit of pleasure.

3. Foreshadowing: Early in the story, Moab’s decision to delay his visit to his mother foreshadows the tragic outcome of her death. The tension between Moab and his mother also hints at the deeper unresolved issues that come to a head later in the narrative.

4. Imagery: Mungoshi’s vivid descriptions of the urban environment and Moab’s internal turmoil create a powerful sense of place and mood. The imagery of the bustling city contrasts sharply with the desolation and despair that Moab feels.

5. Metaphor: Moab’s journey through the city and his interactions with Chipo and his mother serve as metaphors for his inner journey and the struggle to reconcile his desires with his obligations.

Language and Diction

Mungoshi’s language is unadorned yet deeply expressive, capturing the raw emotions and stark realities of the characters’ lives. The dialogue is realistic and conveys the cultural nuances of Zimbabwean society. The use of local idioms and expressions adds authenticity to the narrative and grounds the story in its specific cultural context.

Mood and Tone

The tone of the story is somber and reflective, underscoring the themes of regret and loss. The mood shifts from the initial sense of urgency and conflict to a more contemplative and resigned atmosphere as Moab grapples with the consequences of his actions.


"Coming of the Dry Season" is set against the backdrop of post-colonial Zimbabwe, a period marked by social and economic challenges as the country transitioned from colonial rule to independence. The story reflects the broader struggles of a society grappling with the legacy of colonialism and the pressures of modernity. Mungoshi’s portrayal of urban life and the tensions between traditional values and contemporary realities resonates with the experiences of many Zimbabweans during this time.


Charles Mungoshi’s "Coming of the Dry Season" is a poignant and powerful exploration of the human condition in the context of post-colonial Zimbabwe. Through the character of Moab and his interactions with his mother and Chipo, Mungoshi delves into themes of love, responsibility, survival, and the quest for identity. The story’s rich symbolism, vivid imagery, and nuanced characterizations create a compelling narrative that speaks to the universal struggles of individuals seeking to find their place in a changing world. Mungoshi’s work remains a testament to the enduring power of literature to illuminate the complexities of human experience and to bridge the gaps between different cultures and perspectives.

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