Defending land and land reform in Zimbabwe: Part Three


THE last installment focused on Zimbabwe’s first war of liberation and the narration of a nation under siege from two perspectives: that of the archetypal young freedom fighter and that of Cummins and Mason.
This structural pattern is maintained in Part Two of the novel except that this time around the narration of nation focuses more on ‘The Empire’s Treachery’.
At the level of style this Section of the novel benefits from a combination of recollection and confession; and the juxtaposition of morality and iniquity embodied in the characters who present the nationalist and imperialist voices, respectively.
At the same time style also benefits from the omniscient narrative point of view which is interwoven with a detective approach which sustains, not only the readers’ suspense, curiosity and attention to detail, but also permits the reader to access both the inner and outer recesses of the characters.
Indeed juxtapositions permits multiple entries to the psyche of the two groups of recollectors and confessors through whom the history of the betrayal of Zimbabwe is based.
The theme of betrayal is sustained by the author’s adept exploitation of flashback and flashback within flashback, a technique which not only traces but also knits together the strings that highlight the major landmarks of British and American betrayal and treachery.
Then of course the introduction and characterisation of Chamunorwa Hamandishe takes centre stage.
It is around him that the central mystery of the story and indeed the rest of the characters are woven.
This section of the novel opens with Chamunorwa exiting Harare as a fugitive to justice and national conscience: “With apprehension, he realize[s] that the initial physical route of this voyage of betrayal le[ads] directly past the national shrine”(55), the citadel of all national heroes who seem to watch Chamunorwa’s somersaulting from glory into suicidal treachery.
They seem to question as his name ironically suggests: ‘you have decided to sell your heart to imperialists’?
The rest of the section then follows the formulaic pattern of any modern detective story. At the centre of investigation is Detective Magura of the Missing Persons Unit, invited by the Director-General of the Ministry of Land Reclamation to bring resolve the mystery of missing of the Hamandishe, the top agricultural consultant.
Magura and his assistant begin the journey with minimum leads. And immediately we are catapulted into a pulsating Hollywood film-like rhythm of visits, interviews and perusal of documents in search of both the motive and whereabouts of Chamunorwa.
The first crack at the leads is the Christmas Pass melodramatic accident involving Max Chigayo and his fiancée, which leaves a myriad of mysterious coded messages, a small fortune in precious stones (diamonds) and a briefcase full of American dollars.
Thereafter, pieces come together as the unwinding continues.
Meanwhile history is interwoven with fiction permitting the reader again access to the historical narration of nation under siege from multiple entries.
On one hand we have a re-enactment of failing conscience and impunity between Crawford and Sedgefield (both agents of imperialism symbolising the two postures/faces of empire – the liberal front on one hand and the stark naked racist front on the other.
Then we have a set of Africans (Rudo and the Chief) representing the nationalist sensibility in the narration of nation. And through the two categories the history of land as the bone of contention is retold.
Sedgefield represents the cold impunity of empire while Crawford represents the false innocence of the liberal face of Empire.
He is an economic hit-man from Whitehall, “working for an unofficial government department that [is] dedicated to disinformation, conspiracy and destabilisation of foreign governments” (87).
His attitude towards Africa is both cold and cynical: “Could you ever imagine the continent of Africa without the calming influence of the European?
It would be a wilderness”, he tells his fellow conspirator.
Such unapologetic racist bigotry is typical of the scheme of empire arising from a deep-seated hatred of fellow men.
Crawford, on the other hand, represents the empire’s chameleon approach to Africa. He purports to sympathize with Zimbabweans when he says of the sanctions: “All that you achieve is suffering and misery of the people on the streets of Zimbabwe’s towns and in the countryside” (88).
Our readers should not be deceived by such liberal nonsense – it is just a gimmick and a false one for that matter.
You need to take cue from our martyr, Steve Biko, who observed that a white liberal is a hyena in sheep’s skin and therefore more dangerous than an outright racist white.
Sedgfield and Crawford represent the “anatomy of a conspiracy”.
Through their dialogue we learn that Max Chigayo is their courier who is involved in an accident on his way to collect the postcard from Chamunorwa.
For us the Christmass Pass hotel passes as a metaphysical intervention to scuttle the conspiracy of the enemy. Yes, vadzimu varamba.
Parallelism then takes us to Rudo, Chamunorwa’s daughter, a political analyst who demystifies the machinations of empire.
She punctures the hypocrisy of ZIDERA when she explains: “The bill specifically bars international institutions from opening lines of credit to Zimbabwe . . . Lines of financial credit to an economy are like the oil that lubricates an engine” (123).
She also punctures the role of “international” media in the conspiracy.
It is used to misinform and mislead the world about the Zimbabwe saga by fronting “issues of governance and human rights abuses (as) red herrings to deflect attention from the real conflict” (124).
Such chicanery has historical precedents such as the Rudd Concession, the Apportionment Act of 1930 that “fast-tracked (our ancestors) off their productive land” (137) and the Native Husbandry Act that “criminalised the possession of cattle beyond that number amongst the peasant farmers” (156). All these approaches led to one thing – impoverishment of Africa and keeping them in the absolute poverty trap.
How ironic? Nonetheless, when the same is fast-tracked back to its owners there is hullabaloo about human-rights violation.
We learn from Rudo and later the Chief that “reneging on agreed positions is a trademark of British diplomacy”(180).
True; Part-Two of the novel reminds us of the five grave pillars of global imperialism, namely: a) western-oriented education, b) western media, c) western- manipulated religion(s), d) western law (legal systems) and e) western politics/ideologies. We need to be consistently aware of these calumnies.


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