African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe
A highly personal story of the eminent British writer returning to her African roots that is "brilliant . . . [and] captures the contradictions of a young country."--New York Times Book Review
hours sleep rocking on the waves. Then this brute of a fish sneaks up, snatches at sleep-loosened feet and drags the bird down, down… On we drove over the good smooth urban roads, but when memory expected a sudden bumpy encounter with the country roads nothing happened, on we went rolling high and safe, infinitely far from the bush and the past. Yes, I had been in The District only a few weeks ago, and on a farm not far from ours, but the approach had been on a different road, one that did not
pilgrimage–moments when things slide into place: it had never, ever, entered my mind that there was a generation in Zimbabwe which did not know how their own country had been, and so recently. ‘Animals?’ he asked. ‘What animals? You mean mombies? You mean goats?’ ‘When I was a girl in Banket the bush was full of koodoo, sable, eland, and all the smaller buck, particularly duiker. There were stem buck and bush buck, anteaters and porcupines and wild cats and monkeys, and baboons and wild pig.
must in any case drive on, because of this man beside me who sat squeezing his hands between thin chilly knees, while the tears fell steadily over his already crumpled suit. I wished there was something in the car to eat. Perhaps I should look for a store and buy him…it occurred to me this renewed weeping was because we were about to leave Macheke, this metropolis of urban delights, the last before his exile must begin. I drove back to the new main road, recognizing among smart new buildings
move together, and some of the women were dancing, in groups, while men stood by clapping. The tiers were so full you would think not one body could possibly find room to squeeze in, but all the time people, who stood looking wondering where they might fit, found that a space had opened somewhere, and the impossible was happening. Groups of whites stood watching. One group was the new race of Aid workers, or perhaps people from an embassy, friendly, casual, as at home here as they would be, next
several, for they are translated into six languages. The first was, Let Us Build Zimbabwe Together (the title had been suggested by the village people themselves), a handbook on overcoming civic problems, and how to cooperate in a practical way, ignoring the slogans and rhetoric that cause political activists to believe that if you shout sequences of words long and loud enough, that process in itself is enough to change things. The second book was still being put together. It explains economic