Renowned novelist and filmmaker, Tsitsi Dangarembwa has torched a storm in a Facebook post which claimed that Chiwoniso Maraire passed away due to a shortage of ARV drugs.She later retracted the statement after a furious backlash. Initially she wrote on her Facebook wall “Am going to have to take a few days off to recover from the Chioniso Mariaire disaster. Cannot stop crying. Our country and the world treats African,especially Zim women artists, like garbage. All that girl needed was a course of ARVs and she couldn’t even get that. Meanwhile some Embassies of affluent nations have projects with white people in the arts here to support the black people with ARV that those white people work with for the SAKE OF THE WHITE PERSON’S business. It doesn’t get sicker than that. So many versions of Travyon Martin..”
This post did not go down well with Petina Gappah, another prominent Zimbabwean writer, who found Dangarembwa's comment inappropriate Dangarembwa however remained adamant that her post was not offensive saying that such issues were not taboo but have to be brought out.
Petina Gappah said :“Excuse me Tsitsi, I think this post is well out of order. You are assuming rather a lot about Chi’s health. Firstly, I believe that matters of health are private matters unless the people concerned choose to share them. Secondly, the premise of your post is flawed: there is a widespread ARV programme that delivers generic drugs to the poor. ARVs are not in the gift of “white people” but are now widely available as generics. Let’s mourn and celebrate our lovely girl without making her death into some sort of political cause.”
Dangarembwa then replied ”Thank you, Petina. For your information I had a conversation with Tsungi about the problems artists, especially in respect to health, insurance and HIV related issues amongst other. We discussed how there are no welfare systems geared to the needs of artists. We had actually laid down a plan. When I realised that that first effort of mine had not borne fruit, I developed another strategy which I have now begun implementing.”
Dangarembwa later retracted her claims saying that she made ‘ill-advised’ comments on and that ‘she is happy to set the record straight.’
Writing on her facebook wall Dangarembwa said, “Just back from grieving at our Sister Chiwoniso Maraire‘s. I was told categorically that our sister was not taking any medication like ARVs because she did not need to take them at all. There was no question lack of access. I was also informed that it was not my place to make claims that were not substantiated about my sister’s health. I was so happy to hear this from people who knew the real situation. I am happy to set the record straight by making this post and to say that my speculation on this forum was completely ill-advised and has caused additional grief to an already unbearable situation. I am deeply sorry for all the distress I caused, and it just goes to show the greatest that surrounded our sister that they felt kind enough to speak to me to set the record straight. God is great. To him goes all the glory. I heard your voice, my sister. Rest in peace.”