Charles Mungoshi is an award-winning author born in the Chivhu area of Zimbabwe, a country in Southern Africa. He was born in 1947, and is of the Shona ethnic group. He was raised in a rural area, and grew up helping to raise crops and tending cattle in the forests and grasslands near his home. The author is most famous for his novels and short stories written in both Shona and English, as well as for his two collections of children's stories, Stories from a Shona Childhood
and One Day Long Ago.
Mungoshi's style of writing has been described as being a bit like the Japanese poetic style of haiku — spare, exact, simple, yet at the same time, able to convey deep meanings in just a few lines. His poem, "Before The Sun," is a good example of this style.
On the surface, the poem seems to be simply about a boy who begins his day in the forest, chopping a log for firewood, then building a fire and roasting some fresh cobs of maize (corn) for his breakfast. To some, this is all the poem is about. However, there are clues in the poem that its meaning is much deeper. For instance, the opening stanza can be read in a way that suggests the stages of a person's life:
intense blue morning (birth)
promising early heat (youth)
and later in the afternoon, (adulthood)
heavy rain (old age)
As the reader continues through each subsequent stanza, one quickly notices that the author is trying to give us a picture of how a boy might feel as he moves from childhood to young manhood, anticipating what it might be like to get a taste of life as a grownup.