Against the Grain. Memories of a Zimbabwean Newsman, by Geoffrey Nyarota
Geoffrey Nyarota, author of Against the Grain: Memories of a Zimbabwean Newsman, was the founding editor of the Daily News. He is a Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, both at Harvard University, and is the recipient of nine international journalism awards.
THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE JOHN OLIVER MANYARARA WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA
ONE OF THE best friends I ever had, now deceased, once said to me, ‘John, why don’t you coordinate the writing of a true history of Zimbabwe? Do you want the task to be undertaken by politicians who will mangle and distort the facts to suit their political agendas?’ The question was asked in all seriousness, because my friend knew that I had lived through the modern political history of Zimbabwe, initially as a journalist and subsequently as a practising lawyer, from the days of Benjamin Burombo’s British African Voice Association in the late 1940s to the liberation of the country by guerrillas of the Patriotic Front. I wish my late friend was still around, because in this work, Geoffrey Nyarota, as he is popularly called, has, in his inimitable style, provided a timely, well-researched, incisive and perceptive account of the latter years of the struggle as he perceived them. With the exception of South Africa, the struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe was arguably one of the most protracted regional campaigns in southern Africa. What began as a passive, non-violent movement, progressed through militancy and culminated in a formidable armed struggle until victory was achieved in 1980. Geoffrey Nyarota’s account of the events from the official start of the war of liberation at Chinhoyi in 1966 is a fascinating yet factual story that constitutes a reliable record to which anyone else wishing to write on the subject would be well advised to refer constantly. Some readers will recall that after Burombo’s movement came the militant African National Congress Youth League of James Chikerema and George Nyandoro, Zimbabwe’s inseparable lifelong nationalists, political activists, freedom fighters and guerrillas in the true sense. This organisation was followed by the mass movement known as the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) and its successor, the National Democratic Party (NDP), led by, among others, Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe. After lan Smith banned the NDP, the party split into the People’s Caretaker Council (PCC) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu). On the eve of the first one-man one-vote general election in 1980, the Patriotic Front (PF) divided into Zanu-PF, led by Mugabe, and PF-Zapu, led by Nkomo. Zanu-PF won the election and has remained in power until the present day. In December 1987, Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu merged into a single political party and, ironically, adopted the name Zanu-PF. But the merger brought about no change of political dispensation and it was not until 1999 that Zimbabwe had any meaningful opposition to Zanu-PF, in the form of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). I knew that Geoffrey Nyarota had won numerous regional and international awards for excellence in journalism. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that although we had worked fairly closely together for a long period before I relocated to another country, Geoffrey Nyarota had success- fully concealed some of the awards from me. The blame is entirely mine for not keeping up with media issues as diligently as in the past. I have always been familiar with Geoffrey Nyarota’s wry sense of humour, but I think that in this book, he has excelled himself. He doggedly traces the fortunes of one of lan Smith’s semi-literate black policemen, who had arrested and tortured him while he was still a schoolteacher in eastern Zimbabwe in the late 1970s, to that character’s current position as a director of the national airline, Air Zimbabwe. [...]
Nyarota, Geoffrey im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Against the Grain is the memories of a Zimbabwean newsman becoming Robert Mugabe’s public enemy number one.