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Tragedy of today’s writers

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THE white community for a long time has taken advantage of the saying ‘if you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book’ to distort and misrepresent facts about Africa.
Literature has been published giving a biased account of the history of Africa, painting whites as saviours while portraying blacks as clueless people that require the guidance of the whiteman.
The Zimbabwean history has fallen prey to publishers and writers who are bent on distorting facts about the liberation struggle and key programmes such as the Land Reform Programme and Indigenisation and Empowerment programme.
Through its Book Review section, The Patriot has exposed the machinations of the country’s detractors to distort facts about Zimbabwe’s past and current status.
Books from Rhodesian writers, black writers sympathising with Rhodesians and publishers such as Weaver Press and amaBooks, who have the hidden agenda of mass producing books that de-campaign President Robert Mugabe’s Government have been reviewed.
These publishing houses have also produced literature demeaning the black people and advancing pre-colonial mentality among the people.
The reviews have done a lot to conscientise the man on the street about the strategies of the West to tell a biased story on the country through books.
However, the Bookworm in The Standard June 21-27 2015, in an article titled ‘The Patriot and expatriots’, thinks The Patriot is out there to destroy writers.
The Bookworm does not take criticism kindly as we have someone who believes that Zimbabwe must buy, without raising an eyebrow, into the Western-sponsored hegemonic warfare.
The writer’s diction reflects anger and motive.
And naturally that spoils any critical work which is expected to be objective, or at the very least, be approached with a sober mind to allow for the critic to lay bare their opinions approached without unnecessarily being emotional.
Criticism must either be positive or negative.
Positive criticism encourages the writer while negative criticism motivates them to do better.
And in this case since this is an ideological contestation, one should expect their ideological positions to be dissected without favour.
And one should not be promoted even if their ideas are poisonous simply because they have to put food on the table.
Ideas should be allowed to be debated thoroughly in the court of public opinion.
That is healthy for creative and critical thinking as opposed to the feeling by the Bookworm that it destroys it.
What destroys critical thinking is failure to acknowledge different opinion.
The Bookworm who has a low self-esteem is self-contradictory when he/she argues for a capacity to dialogue and discuss, yet he/she is not prepared to take views contrary to his/her ‘own’ thought as that expressed by The Patriot.
The Bookworm blames the shortage of black voices in Zimbabwean literature typically on the black government.
The anonymous book reviewer should know by now that when an economy collapses as ours did because of the illegal sanctions imposed by his masters, so does the publishing industry with it.
Bookworm notes:
“The tragedy for Zimbabwean writers is that they have to write and live with this terror and intimidation in an environment that provides no institutional support of any form — an ineffective writers’ community, a dysfunctional book fair, mass closure of bookshops, decaying university system, absence of serious academic and literary journals, and lack of highbrow journalism.”
Those are the ‘problems’ the book industry is facing not The Patriot.
The Patriot is not the problem for writers.
If anything, the mere fact that the paper has such a column is testimony to its commitment to support the local literary works and its attempt to fill in the void left by the deficiencies identified above.
Who does not know publishers are only willing to publish books whose agenda and ideology they agree with?
This brings us to publishing houses like amaBooks and Weaver Press who offer lucrative book deals to black writers albeit with a controlled content.
It is a well-documented fact that Weaver Press, the Avondale-based publishing house, is in partnership with the United States Government’s Office for Transitional Initiatives (OTI) in the regime change agenda against President Mugabe and ZANU PF.
Weaver Press in October 2011 received funds from Casals and Associates, one of the agents through which USAID funds regime change projects, to encourage and lure writers into writing works that propagate the regime change agenda.
Casals and Associates signed an agreement with Weaver Press to publish a book on alleged violence perpetrated by ZANU PF against MDC members.
In this respect, Casals and Associates gave Weaver Press an amount of US$15 901 to “(1), support the transportation, per diem, accommodation and consultancy fees of one editor, (2) Ensure that documentation of violence and torture complies with appropriate standards to allow for future justice measures to be carried out; (3) Support efforts to ensure that the true story of Zimbabwe’s violence is told and perpetrators are held accountable.”
Other sponsors including Western-sponsored NGOs such as Hivos, The Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust, Southern African Book Development Education Trust (SABDET), British Embassy, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Alliance Française de Bulawayo have helped Zimbabwean writers by sourcing equipment, sponsoring launches and helping with printing costs.
And yet the Bookworm naively attempts to separate their literature from their politics.
“Zimbabwe is, de facto, a police state. It is routine now for people to be beaten up in prison, whether or not they have been charged. People live in fear as well as hunger and illness. People are depressed,” writes the co-founder and director of amaBooks, John Eppel
“Those who can’t get out, turn their faces to the wall. There is no culture of maintenance, there is no accountability, there will always be someone else to blame.
“Like the Jews in history, the whites, and to a lesser extent, the Indians, have become scapegoats.
“When these marginalised groups have gone, it will be the turn of the Ndebeles. Then, God help this country.
“You ask me why all this is happening. It’s simple. It’s because of a megalomaniac who refuses to relinquish power.”
This is what Eppel believes and he will die fighting for his cause.
No wonder amaBooks and Weaver Press have propelled writers such as Christopher Mlalazi (Running with mother 2012), Tinashe Mushakavanhu and Albert Nyathi (Short writing from Bulawayo), Thabisani Ndlovu (Short writing from Bulawayo III, 2006) to write books spewing hate language between the Ndebele and the Shona people.
The bottom line is The Patriot does not hate Irene Staunton or Jane Morris, but disagrees with the contents of their publications.

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