As by-elections were underway in 28 mostly urban and opposition-held parliamentary seats – together with over 100 local government seats – the Minister of Election Rigging declared victory for Zanu PF.
The Minister said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had already informed him that the people had made the right decision. He said this had been confirmed by the celebrated Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo, whose debut novel ‘We need new names’ was short-listed for the prestigious Booker prize in the UK in 2013.
NoViolet’s latest novel titled ‘Glory’ has received rave reviews in British newspapers. The influential Guardian says NoViolet wanted to write a non-fiction account of the 2017 coup against Mugabe but ended up writing a political satire, inspired by the famous English novel ‘Animal Farm’.
The Guardian writes: ‘Glory is set in the animal kingdom of Jidada. After a 40-year rule, the “Old Horse” is ousted in a coup, along with his much-despised wife, a donkey named Marvellous. At first there is great rejoicing and hope for change under a new ruling horse, Tuvius Delight Shasha (the former vice-president turned rival of Old Horse). Hope, however, quickly vanishes and into the period of post-coup despair steps a young goat named Destiny, who returns from exile to bear witness to a land where greed, corruption and false prophets are rampant.
‘Glory is jam-packed with comedy and farce, poking fun at an autocratic regime while illustrating the absurdity and surreal nature of a police state. Here, for example, is an extravagant, ironic list of Jidada’s government ministers reflecting the breadth and depth of corruption: “The Minister of the Revolution, the Minister of Corruption, the Minister of Order, the Minister of Things, the Minister of Nothing, the Minister of Propaganda, the Minister of Homophobic Affairs, the Minister of Disinformation, the Minister of Looting”.’
The review points to targets such as the popular slogans meaning the opposite of what is stated – ‘Open for business’ and ‘New dispensation’ – down to ‘Dr Sweet Mother with her Gucci heels’ – the donkey awarded her PhD after just three months – or, as the novel has it, ‘before you could say diss, for dissertation’.
‘But one doesn’t have to know Zimbabwe to relish this novel. As with all good satire, the specific speaks to the universal; and many of these specifics are instantly recognisable – a video recording anguished cries of “I can’t breathe”; the sham commitment to “free, fair and credible elections”; the calls to “make Jidada great again”. Similarly, the heart-breaking descriptions of genocide, corrupt rulers and their cronies, and a traumatised nation living in fear, will chime with people all over the world. Glory is in good company with Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s 2021 biting critique of Nigerian society, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a new wave of political satire from African writers.’
The review concludes: ‘Bulawayo doesn’t hold back in speaking truth to power. She writes urgently and courageously, holding up a mirror both to contemporary Zimbabwe and the world at large. Her fearless and innovative chronicling of politically repressive times calls to mind other great storytellers such as Herta Müller, Elif Shafak and Zimbabwean compatriot Yvonne Vera. Glory, with a flicker of hope at its end, is allegory, satire and fairytale rolled into one mighty punch.’ (See: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/mar/23/glory-by-noviolet-bulawayo-review-a-zimbabwean-animal-farm.)
The Vigil salutes NoViolet – a brave opponent of repression in Zimbabwe. It gives us hope that the diaspora may be able to return home one day.
- As NoViolet’s book suggests. nothing is beyond satire in Zimbabwe. Take for instance the case of former Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, who is accused of corruption involving US$32 million. he told the High Court that he was too rich to steal from the state and the police force! (See: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2022/03/im-too-rich-to-steal-chihuri/.)
- Another high profile person has resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council, the Chairman of Alpha Media Holdings, Trevor Ncube. He said he regretted ever joining the Council. After the 2017 coup he thought people should give Mnangagwa a chance – ‘how wrong I was’. He said Mnangagwa was doing even worse things than Mugabe who had run down the economy through corruption and maladministration (see: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/mnangagwas-advisory-council-crumbles-as-another-high-profile-member-quits-launches-savage-criticism/.)
- The Vigil is happy to say that we will be resuming our usual meetings outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday 2nd April from 2 – 5 pm after the long absence caused by the Covid pandemic. We welcome you back.
- Our virtual Vigil activists today were Enniah Dube and Casper Nyamakura who both kindly contributed to Vigil funds. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72177720297640167 for today’s photos.
Events and Notices:
- 10th Anniversary of the Mike Campbell Foundation. Wednesday 30th March 2022 from 7 – 9 pm. Venue: The Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Scheduled speakers include: Nelson Chamisa, Fadzayi Mahere, Baroness Kate Hoey and Ben Freeth. Tickets £15. For tickets, check: https://event.bookitbee.com/38180/mike-campbell-foundation and for information flyer, check: https://www.mikecampbellfoundation.com/_files/ugd/02876c_f762aa1e6ae64863913b91e9ed33d4db.pdf.
- Resumption of Vigil meetings outside the Embassy. Saturday 2nd April from 2 – 5 pm. We will continue meeting on the first and third Saturdays of every month.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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