Nigerian author Chielo Zona Eze pulls no punches in this fictional account of the brutal Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. Set in heaven, Mugabe is put before a jury of pan-African luminaries and victims of his oppression and terror come forth to tell his tales. There stories vary from Zimbabweans forced to find work in South Africa where they are killed for being outsiders, women raped, tortured and killed in prison camps, and even a soldier who dies of AIDS from participating in these rapes and torture. The testimonies are graphic and yet there are also acknowledgments of gratitude for Mugabe himself suffering imprisonment under the British and eventually liberating Zimbabwe from colonial rule. The horror is all the greater that Mugabe recreates the terror he lived through on his subjects.
This book is a definite tribute to human rights and those who persevere in protecting them. Authors Yvonne Vera and Dambudzo Marechera are specifically singled out but there are also more subtle allusions to Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This novel is not going to cheer you up but it offers important insight into the state of the world.
Guku is born of the spirit of ressentiment, in which case a person develops a gukunized personality. The logic of a gukunized personality runs thus: I am a victim, therefore I can’t be blamed for any wrong, therefore I am right. A gukunized mindset finds nothing wrong in killing or harming other people because he already justifies this on the grounds of his having been harmed earlier. – p. 33.
Should I tell you that retribution, sir, is antithetical to civilization; that it has no place in civil society? Should I tell you, sir, that the greatness of a leader is no measure on the degree of his anger toward other people, it is not based on what he hated and destroyed, but on what he has built? It is based on how fare he has enhanced the lives of his people. – p. 150
Recommended books: Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Snakepit by Moses Isegawa, The Stone Virgins by Yvonne Vera, and House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera.