Writing rises from the ashes

On April 18 2020, Zimbabwe will reach the 40-year milestone. More than half of its population is younger than the country itself. Older men dominate its political system and they are not showing signs of letting up.

Zimbabwe started with great promise, and former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere famously called it the “jewel of Africa”. It was a precious new country. Harare quickly established itself as an intellectual capital and became a meeting point for writers and scholars. And the Zimbabwe International Book Fair was the holy grail for African literature.

The country that emerged in 1980 from the colonial era had had no access to books that offered African history or literature from the continent.

While the rest of the continent was rapidly decolonising, Zimbabwe remained under the chokehold of a stubborn band of white settler renegades led by Ian Smith, who declared unilateral independence and so isolated the country from the rest of the world.

If the black nationalists and intellectuals were not in prison or exile, they were dead, eternally silenced.

After independence there was a need to recover the past, which resulted in a local publishing boom.

Behind the scenes, however, President Robert Mugabe was consolidating power, engineering the massacre of the Ndebele through the Gukurahundi military operation.

His party also annexed Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union to create a one-party state.

A coalition of students, trade unionists and activists formed a formidable opposition movement
in response to the ravages of the structural adjustment programme of the 1990s, which led to the rising cost of health services, retrenchments and exacerbated the brain drain.

Even with Mugabe having permanently left the scene, the country still faces many problems.

The crowds cheered and danced when Emmerson Mnangagwa, with the help of the army, deposed his boss — just as they did when Zimbabwe threw of the shackles of Rhodesia and became independent.

But the new president has failed to turn the economy around.

The country is blighted by unemployment, poor service delivery and there has been an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition.

Though the country’s book industry and related infrastructure have crumbled, a new generation of writers has emerged, reimagining the country and its future.

Tinashe Mushakavanhu
Tinashe Mushakavanhu works from Harare. New York. Everywhere.. PhD English, University of Kent. Tinashe Mushakavanhu has over 3094 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

Stay in China, government tells homesick South Africans

As ‘impisoned’ children at epicentre cry to be reunited with their parents, top official says families mustn’t be ungrateful

Cradock Four back to haunt De Klerk

Pressure is mounting on the NPA to charge the former president and others involved in political killings during apartheid

Ramaphosa makes peace with Malema over gender-based violence comments

In his Sona response, the president apologised for the weaponising of gender-based violence, saying the attack on the red beret leader was "uncalled for"

Steenhuisen takes the lead in DA race while Ntuli falters

‘If you want a guarantee buy a toaster. This is politics’
Advertising

Press Releases

Response to the report of the independent assessors

VUT welcomes the publishing of the report of the independent assessors to investigate concerns of poor governance, leadership, management, corruption and fraud at the university.

NWU student receives international award

Carol-Mari Schulz received the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Occupational Hygiene Top Achiever Award.

Academic programme resumes at all campuses

Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials will all resume today as per specific academic timetables.

Strategic social investments are a catalyst for social progress

Barloworld Mbewu enables beneficiaries to move away from dependence on grant funding

We all have a part to play to make South Africa work

Powering societal progress demands partnerships between all stakeholders

So you want to be a social entrepreneur?

Do the research first; it will save money and time later

Social entrepreneurship means business

Enterprises with a cause at their core might be exactly what our economy desperately needs

Looking inwards

Businesses are finding tangible ways to give back – but only because consumers demand it