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The Arts Books Selected and reviewed by Belinda Otas Book Reviews

The Chimurenga Protocol By: Nyaradzo Mtizira Published: Botshelo Publishing ISBN: 978-007942-8925


he issue of land ownership in Zimbabwe has long been a point of contention between the gov- ernments of Zimbabwe and

the UK. This is the point of focus in Nyaradzo Mtizira’s history-inspired novel, Te Chimurenga Protocol. Mtizira sets out to make a case for the present day land redistribution by outlining the injustice to indigenous Zimbabweans, whose ancestors were forcefully evicted from their lands under British colonial rule. Chimurenga is a Shona word for “revo-

lutionary struggle”, and in this case, the struggle of Zimbabwean freedom fighters against the rule of white settlers hell-bent on taking over their land. From the First, Second, and Tird

Chimurengas to the present-day dispute over land, Mtizira takes us on a journey in this four-part story. He starts in the 1800s and lays the foundation of the First Chimurenga, where he paints a picture of the resilient and persistent force of the lo- cal people who refused to let go what was rightfully theirs without a fight. It was a bloody engagement on both

sides, and Mtizira depicts William Mason, the Queen’s representative in Rhodesia at the time, as a sadistic, racist and con- descending man on a mission to rid the indigenous people of all dignity: “In my experience, I have never engaged

a dedicated fighting force similar to these men. Tey are deeply committed to halting the expansion of the Queens’s Empire. Our presumption has been that because they are

78 | March 2011 New African I

Africans and illiterate, they will succumb to our will as the white superior race. After all, we have brought the influence of civilisation and culture to this Dark Continent. Tey owe us a debt of gratitude,” Mason tells one of his officials. Leaping forward to present-day Zim-

babwe, the story has not changed: the case for land ownership is still a controversial topic, as demonstrated by the character of Hamandishe Chamunorwa, who is caught up between the British and Zim- babwean establishments. Armed with a secret file that could benefit the British, his actions are seen as treachery and the race to catch up with him before he hands it over starts. Te Chimurenga Protocol is described

as “a searing indictment of colonialism and its dark practitioners”. Mtizira’s of- fering is a thought-provoking exposition on the issues of the colonial occupation of Zimbabwe and the African continent, with its imperialist agenda. It is a worthwhile read for anyone inter-

ested in the explosive subject matter and the deep affinity to land ownership and why it is treasured by Africans.

Migritude By: Shailja Patel Published: Kaya Press, US ISBN: 978-188503-0054

collection, Migritude – a word she coined from the words Migrant, Attitude, and Negritude. Part memoir, part political history,

and part performance tour-de-force, Patel weaves together family history, reportage, and monologues of migration, violence, colonisation and love to create an ach- ing and beautiful portrait of a migrant’s journey. Inspired by a box of saris that her moth-

er has been saving for her since she was a child, in the hope that it would one day be her wedding gift, Migritude is Patel’s own gift to the world, for she remains single. She leaves nothing untouched, radical enough to ensure her narrative includes political coverage and truths such as the role of the British and US governments that supported Idi Amin to take over the government of Uganda. Migritude does not disappoint.

A Rainbow In The Night The Tumultuous Birth of South Africa By: Dominique Lapierre Published: Da Capo Press, UK ISBN: 978-030681-8479


t is not every day you get a writer whose heritage spans three continents, but that is what you have with Shailja Patel, a Kenyan-Indian-American

writer. Her words are dark, deep and hypnotic. Patel’s words transpose you intellectu-

ally, mentally, and emotionally to a differ- ent place and time with this debut poetry

o understand South Africa’s politi- cal repositioning in recent history, its racial tensions, social and eco- nomic divides and its ever-evolving

nature, you have to understand the coun- try’s past. Tis is the mammoth task that Dominique Lapierre has taken on with his epic historical account of the rainbow nation. Divided into four sections, “In Search of a New Promised Land”, “Te Prime Minister’s Bulldozers”, “Helen and Chris: Two Lights in the Darkness” and “God Bless Africa,” Lapierre chronicles a horrid and harrowing history of oppression and subjugation.

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