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The Standard
News and Noisemakers of 2004
By our own Staff

IT'S that time of the year again when we take a look at individuals and institutions that made news both for outstanding achievements and for making a complete nuisance of themselves.


Kirsty Coventry

THE 21-year-old swimming sensation ended Zimbabwe's 24-year barren spell at the Olympics. Zimbabwe had up until then only managed one medal when the women hockey team scooped the country's first gold medal at the heavily boycotted Moscow 1980 Games. Coventry completed a three-medal haul winning gold in the 200m backstroke setting a continental record, a silver in the 200m individual medley and a bronze in the 100m backstroke.

Caps United

DESPITE suffering a major setback through the death of star players Shingirai Arlon, Blessing Makunike and Gary Mashoko in a road accident at the beginning of the season, an inspired Caps United won the premiership title for the first time since 1996.

They finished with 72 points ahead of second placed Highlanders in a season in which they won 25 games, drew four and lost one. To top it all up, they clinched the Buddie Challenge Cup and the Unity Cup with coach Charles Mhlauri, defender Cephas Chimedza and striker Leonard Tsipa scooping the Coach of the year, Soccer Star and Top Goal Scorer of the year awards.


THE Warriors made their maiden appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations held in Tunisia in January but failed to get past the first round stage. Under the guidance of Sunday Chidzambwa - formerly Marimo - the team managed only one win over Algeria after suffering two consecutive defeats to Egypt and defending champions Cameroon. Chidzambwa quit The Warriors after Zifa proposed a technical director, while his lieutenants Rahman Gumbo and Brenna Msiska were axed following a 3-0 loss to Nigeria at the National Sports Stadium.

Kudzai Sevenzo

THE velvet-voiced Kudzai evolved from being an obscure member of the Celebration Choir to a regional celebrity when she put up an impressive show in the MNet sponsored reality show Project Fame. Kudzai was one of 16 contestants from Africa selected in May to participate in the Project Fame show. The diva went on to release a gospel album, On A day Like This, which has fared well on local charts. Kudzai is the only one of the 16 to record an album. Her star continued to shine and in November she was awarded a contract as resident performer at a leading Harare restaurant and was featured on Best Music 2004, an album of popular gospel songs for the year.

Elliot Mujaji

DISABLED star athlete Mujaji returned home to a rousing welcome after he defended his 100m title at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. Mujaji, who participated in the 100m, 200m and 400m events with fellow athlete Moreen Muza, had been forced to carry a begging bowl around to make it to Athens after financial constraints nearly made the trip uncertain. Well-wishers had to rescue Mujaji's dream after local sports administrators neglected him. This did nothing to dent his courage, and he went on to take gold.

Charles Charamba

THE gospel music icon made front-page news when he was arrested at his Borrowdale home in April on charges of breaching the Prevention of Corruption Act. Charamba, a pastor in the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) church, was accused of conniving with fellow church member and Agribank employee Sebastian Maupa to siphon $40 million from Agribank. The arrest came days after Charamba left the stage at the Heroes' Splush in Marondera in a huff because the PA system was letting him down. Despite his arrest, Charamba continued to enjoy popularity among Christian and secular music fans alike with the songs Ibasa Rangu and Komborerai Vana from his album Verses and Chapters. The charges against the two were later dropped before plea.

Morgan Tsvangirai

THE opposition leader hogged the limelight after several months of keeping a low profile when he was acquitted by the High Court on charges of plotting the assassination of President Robert Mugabe in the months leading to the 2000 parliamentary election. Following his acquittal and the return of his passport, Tsvangirai went on a month's tour that took him to Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, Senegal Britain, the Nordic countries and the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium to apprise leaders of the various countries on the continuing political crises in Zimbabwe.

Joyce Mujuru

LONGEST-SERVING female Cabinet minister and former combatant of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), Joyce Teurai Ropa Mujuru was elected second Vice-President at the Zanu PF national people's congress early this month, entering the annals of history as the country's first female Vice-President. She filled the post left by the death of Vice-President Simon Muzenda last year.

James Makamba

BECAME the first person to be arrested under what became known as "Makamba regulations" on allegations of externalising foreign currency. The arrest came at the back of the official opening of his Blue Ridge Sweet Valley shopping complex in Mazowe by Vice-President Joseph Msika. The Vice President castigated Makamba for building the structures without the requisite permission. Makamba was to spend the next seven months in remand prison.

Chris Kuruneri

HE was arrested while serving as Finance Minister and is still languishing in remand prison on allegations of externalising foreign currency. The charges arise from his building of a mansion in an exclusive Cape Town suburb. Despite spirited efforts to regain freedom he is still behind bars.

Roy Bennett

A VICTIM of State persecution since he won the Chimanimani seat on an MDC ticket in the 2000 parliamentary election, Bennett was driven out of his Charleswood Estate despite a series of court orders in his favour. He is serving an effective 12-month custodial term at Mutoko Prison for contempt of Parliament after an incident in May in which he decked Patrick Chinamasa for a string of racial slurs during debate. The Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa barred the High Court from hearing his case.


Didymus Mutasa

THE Zanu PF secretary for administration was in the news for all the bad reasons. First he made a nuisance of himself when he joined in the melee that prevailed in Parliament when Roy Bennett floored non-constituency MP Patrick Chinamasa, after Chinamasa had called Bennett's ancestors "thieves" and "murderers". Mutasa bragged, falsely, "I gave him a hard kick to the chest". The Makoni North MP was back in the news when he was implicated in intra-party clashes between activists loyal to him and James Kaunye, who has expressed interest in contesting the same seat.

Obediah Musindo

OBEDIAH Musindo of the shadowy Destiny For Africa Christian Network has not made a secret of his love for Zanu PF. In return for his political patronage, Newsnet rewarded him with generous airtime to rave and rant about "national values", the virtues of Zanu PF and to comment on any subject under the sun. He appears to have the licence to mix politics and the word of God, something other church leaders can never do without risking inviting the wrath of the wielders of power.

Joseph Chinotimba

THE self-proclaimed commander of farm seizures who rose from an obscure Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association member and municipal police officer to a ubiquitous trade-unionist-cum-opinion leader was a familiar figure on national television wearing his different hats: donating shoes to the underprivileged in Glen Norah; describing Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono in his characteristic pidgin English as "the survivor of the worker" in a contribution during the Budget Breakfast meeting, and sobbing theatrically in front of television cameras during a visit to the Chimoio Shrine in Mozambique.

Phillip Chiyangwa

CHIYANGWA'S loose tongue landed him in trouble and he had a stint at Harare Remand Prison after he threatened to "deal with" an investigating officer in the cases involving ENG bosses Nyasha Watyoka and Gilbert Muponda. The detective had accused Chiyangwa of frustrating investigations, charges he denied. Chiyangwa told the court:"Ndakavati vafana taurai kuti makarova marii mutown? I am glad these boys are in custody. At least they are safe. Out there they would have no peace."

Patrick Chinamasa

SYNONYMOUS with provocative outbursts, Chinamasa incurred the anger of fellow legislator Roy Bennet when he called his ancestors "thieves" and "murderers" during debate in Parliament on the Stock Theft Amendment Bill. Chinamasa, the architect of most repressive laws, called Bishop Sebastian Bakare and Reverend Trevor Manhanga "opposition activists" wearing religious collars, when the clergy tried to facilitate dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC. Mugabe dropped him from the Politburo appointed soon after the Zanu PF National People's Congress.

Jonathan 'Prof' Moyo

TONGUE-lashing junior Minister of Information who made enemies across the political divide was dropped from both Zanu PF's Politburo and Central Committee. The acidic Moyo, with a mouth as dangerous as a viper, clashed on numerous occasions with senior Zanu PF colleagues such as Nathan Shamuyarira, John Nkomo and Vice President Joseph Msika. He tried to bar a Sky TV news team from having an interview with President Mugabe but failed when Shamuyarira intervened. He tried to bar foreign journalists from entering Zimbabwe to cover the cricket tournament between Zimbabwe and England but was again bowled over by Shamuyarira. The junior Minister was implicated in the controversial "Tsholotsho declaration" that led to his downfall. He was also blamed for turning ZBC into an "urban grooves" station that churns out rubbish 24 hours a day.

Sekesai Makwavarara

POLITICAL chameleon Sekesai Makwavarara defected from the MDC to Zanu PF and was awarded a farm. Since August 11 this year Makwavarara has been attending Zanu PF functions where she openly denounced the MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai. She is now the chairperson for a commission that was set up to run the Harare City Council's affairs.

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Many face bleak X-mas
By Rutendo Mawere & Emmanuel Mungoshi

Bank closures, unscheduled power and water cuts cited THE spirit of Christmas and hopes for a prosperous 2005 have been dampened by the closure of banks, unscheduled water and electricity supply cuts and sky rocketing prices of basic commodities which characterised 2004.

People interviewed by The Standard said they were concerned about just keeping their heads above water and the myriad obligations that come soon after the Christmas and New Year holidays to think about spending for Christmas. This reluctance to play the big spenders was confirmed by retailers.

A commuter omnibus driver plying the City - Mandara route said he did not have high hopes for the coming year because the problems of 2004 would spill over into 2005.

"The closure of banks at a time when people need their money most says a lot about the coming year. (Gideon) Gono achatisungira zvinhu pagore ririkuuya iri, mirai muone (Gono will make our lives miserable)," said the driver.

Asked how he and his family intended to celebrate Christmas the driver, who did not want to be identified, said he would be working throughout the holidays in order to raise next year's school fees for his children.

"When my family comes back from our rural home, they will need food, so I have to work," the driver said.

Sibongile Moyo a security guard with Safeguard shared the same sentiments.

"There is nothing to look forward to. I do not even know if I will be able to pay school fees for my four children come January" said Moyo who looked dejected.

Clothing retailers, who suffered stiff competition from Chinese outlets throughout 2004, expressed fears that 2005 might bring more harm than good.

A branch manager, at one Number 1 stores who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the daunting economic challenges of 2004 forced ordinary people to "revise" their spending habits.

"And clothes are not on that list. People now have to meet their children's school fees and food before they think of buying clothes," said the manager.

Flora Mpofu, a gift shop owner in Harare, said business was slower than anticipated this festive season.

"It seems people have little to spare for gifts and this has brought business down and if this continues we might fold up."

The Standard observed that out of the eight people who were in the gift shop at that time, only one bought a pair of earrings while the rest left without buying anything.

Although most people had little hope of a prosperous 2005, few said business was good and were optimistic about next year.

Kudakwashe Dzvinamurungu of The Style Gallery said business was fairly good although the Chinese had flooded the market with fake labels.

"People are now realising that although the Chinese goods are cheap, they are not durable. Customers who deserted us flocked back before we had felt the impact," Dzvinamurungu said.

He would spend Christmas fasting, praying and thanking the Lord for prosperity throughout the year.

Last minute Christmas shopping which, over the years, had been characterized by buying of new clothes and food was not evident yesterday as many shops were deserted.

At Century Towers, shut down by The Reserve Bank last week, there were hundreds of depositors milling around, hoping that by some strange miracle, the bank would be reopened.

Many said the closure of the bank meant they will go through the holidays without their salaries, something that has never happened since independence.

In his Christmas message, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says food shortages stalking the country have dampened the happiness associated with Christmas celebrations.

Tsvangirai said Christmas was no longer the same compared to previous years.

"We are spending a fifth consecutive hungry Christmas," said Tsvangirai in his Christmas message. "The truth is that Zimbabweans need food."

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), reported last week that more rural households than earlier anticipated were desperate for food.

"The projected food insecure rural population is arguably higher than 3.3 million people," says the Fewsnet report.

Tsvangirai said in a "new Zimbabwe", his party would open doors to the international community and allow relief supplies to vulnerable groups. He also said the HIV/Aids pandemic was a serious threat to Zimbabwe.

"With nearly two million Zimbabweans living with the virus, this pandemic threatens the nation's very existence. It threatens our future," he said.


The Standard


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The Standard - Comment
Gono: The Standard's Man-Of-The-Year

FOR his energy, drive and vision, his unrelenting fight against speculative activity in the financial sector, battling runaway inflation and for facing up to Government and its profligate spending - and for hardly ever being out of the news - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono is The Standard's Man of the Year for 2004.

Gono came into office on December 1 last year replacing Leonard Tsumba who had stepped down at the end of a difficult ten-year term of office. The Zimbabwean economy was decaying rapidly and a potent cure had to be found.

Gideon Gono's first act as RBZ chief was to present the monetary policy on December 18; a policy statement that was to become a sharp turning point for Zimbabwe's financial sector and indeed for the Zimbabwean economy as a whole.

Indeed, his maiden monetary policy statement marked the end of the aloof and non-interventionist central bank, spearheading a new era of an aggressive and perhaps overbearing RBZ. Previous central bank governors hardly ever appeared in public, let alone make a live televised policy statement every three months.

The key points of that December 2003 statement was a cut on cheap funding to financial institutions and stricter controls on banks. For quite some time, moralists had bemoaned what they saw as a sanctification of greed not only in the financial sector but in other sectors as well. Gono's tough actions - warts, pimples and all - put a stop to some of the absurdities of 2003.

Consider the 2003 abnormalities before Gono's take over of the reins at the Central Bank. During 2003 and before, cheap interest rates drove up speculative demand for assets such as properties, vehicles, shares and more damagingly, foreign currency. This resulted in an asset price bubble - that besides pushing inflation to a peak of 622% by January this year - widened the rift between the haves and the have-nots in this country. The nation was faced with an economic calamity.

So it is that 2004 began with the worst inflation in living memory and a deepening dread of more economic hardships. As the year closes, the fact of the matter is that from that January figure of 622%, the annual rate of inflation stands at 149,3% for November. While this will not translate to prices immediately going down, it is nevertheless an encouraging and hopeful sign that the rate at which prices are rising could stabilise in the not too distant future.

We are under no illusions that what Gideon Gono is attempting to do is a formidable and herculian task especially in a situation in which politics appear to be pulling in the opposite direction. Zimbabwe is a pariah State in the eyes of the international community. Save for our Third World friends who are poverty-stricken and struggling economically like us, Zimbabwe is as isolated as ever. And this will make the work of any well-meaning Governor even more difficult.

The fundamentals are crystal clear: a largely worthless currency, a terrible balance-of-payments situation, falling real wages, incredibly stagnating real incomes, 80% unemployment, declining spending on social services, deteriorating physical infrastructure and institutional capacity etc.

This is the nature of the political and economic environment in which Gono's 'revolutionary' policies are being played out.

Perhaps the greatest compliment for Gono came from President Mugabe when he chided his predecessor, Leonard Tsumba for being obsessed with text book economics. Gono realises that extraordinary problems demand extraordinary solutions, and extraordinary solutions demand extraordinary courage and foresight - qualities that Gono has ably demonstrated.

Gono's Homelink initiative, although perhaps not the roaring success that it was touted to be, was illustrative of innovation and creativity in seeking to tap the enormous potential of generating the much needed foreign exchange from Zimbabweans in the diaspora.

The quarterly monetary policy statements are a pragmatic response to desperately difficult problems, a response not only designed to cushion the severest effects of inflation but to assist the nation to grow again when a political solution is found.

Human destiny is a choice. Pessimism does not have a positive value. We can either mourn perpetually or decide to take the bull by the horns and do something.

The fact of the matter is that no policies especially in this modern era have been immune to contradictions and shortcomings between promise and reality. Nothing in life is ever perfect. Only people who never try to achieve anything get away with criticism. It is in this regard that whatever criticisms are made about Gideon Gono and his team at the central bank, they are well-placed and meant to achieve continued growth in the economy.

The point however, is that if one compares the present economic situation with the beginning of the year in January, a great deal of progress has been made but at the same time much more still needs to be done. For example, the governor has successfully used the productive sector financing facility to prevent distressed companies from going under.

Overally, we acknowledge that there is a greatness here, in the drive and vision Gono and his lieutenants have and their can-do mentality. We would, therefore, like to leave them with this message: That theirs is a work in progress. The reforms that the Governor and his colleagues have embarked upon is like riding a bicycle; you have to keep on moving because if you don't ,you're likely to fall down.

Keep going Mr Governor. Our bottom line is just that!

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The Standard
Not much Ho, Ho, Ho in the air
overthetop By Brian Latham

OVER The Top has seen precious little in the way of preparation for the festive season in the troubled central African basket case this year.

Tens of thousands of urban troubled central Africans were very busy not making preparations to visit rural relatives. They did not converge in their thousands on what remains of the city's bus stops.

When asked why, a troubled central African told Over The Top, "There are two reasons why we are busy not going to our villages. The first is that there is no means of getting there because there is no diesel. The second is that when we get to our villages, young boys in green uniforms emerge from the bushes and beat us while accusing us of supporting the More Diesel Coming Party."

He said under the circumstances, most people were rather pleased there is no diesel coming, at least for the time being.

"In the old days, we used to go to our rural homes and be fed like kings," said another person who was busily making ready not to visit relatives. "That has all changed. Now our rural relatives have no food except for the food we send them, and in this season of goodwill we have decided not to send them any.

No doubt the Zany Party that they support so fervently will send them many promises of abundant food, which will be nice for them, though I have yet to see a person eat a promise."

Still, things were looking up in the troubled central African banana republic with supermarket shelves loaded with upfu, rice and sugar. Sadly one necessary ingredient was missing in order for the bountiful goods to change hands: money.

Despite an alleged drop in the staggering rate of inflation to an almost miniscule 150 percent, abundant quantities of cash and burial cheques were in the hands of the Pajero People. As almost all Pajero People are in the Zany Party, many troubled Africans were observing that the Zany Party was likely to have a very merry Christmas. Everyone else, of course, would be left to have a very zany Christmas.

Still, troubled central Africans said at least they'd have a few days off, even if they couldn't afford to do much during their holidays. Well, actually, 20 percent of troubled central Africans were looking forward to a few days' rest. The other 80 percent, having no jobs to begin with, said that the festive season would be much like any other day. Take March the 13th, as an example. Any day will do.

For them the usual troubled central African pastimes present themselves during the Christmas season. Troubling decisions about what to do... beg, sell phone cards, rob a bank, burgle a house, carjack a Pajero, sleep, cadge some money from a relative and get blind drunk or steal the neighbour's seven-day brew seemed to be about the only options available. Just like any other day.

The rewards of Zany government are few, unless you're a Pajero Person, of course. But even for them, it isn't all tinsel and 12-year-old scotch whisky.

As the festivities draw upon us, it's increasingly obvious that membership of the once elite Zany Club isn't easy to hold on to. Some Zanies are spending the festive season in stocks, their only company thieves, lice and mosquitoes.

It is strange that, at a time when the Zany Party has lost millions of people to the More Diesel Coming Party, it should start purging its middle ranks and depleting its numbers still further. Strange... but hardly disturbing.

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The Standard
Don't they know it's Christmas
what's on air By Stewart Chabwinja

AT this stage of the cyclical journey we call a year, goodwill is the buzz-word. It is a season when most people make the conscious effort to be charitable and magnanimous, even if its not in their nature.

Pursuant to this long-observed tradition I felt that instead of moaning about the shambles that make up terminally ill Dead BC - and there is every reason to moan - I should find something complimentary to say about the State broadcaster. Gosh! Little did I know what I was in for as try as I did for the better part of the week, I could hardly find anything positive to say.

After a supreme, hypertension-inducing effort, it did occur to me - without pandering to flatter - that maybe Dead BC had scored an achievement or two which needed mentioning.

A couple of months ago, the tomfoolery in which the behind-the-scenes technical chaps would continuously cue the wrong clip - driving news presenters and us former licence-payers nuts - reached its climax. In one incident poor news anchor Cleo Tsimba had to apologise on four consecutive occasions, not to mention appearing like a complete fool, after one mischief maker had shown one wrong clip, after another clip, after another clip...

Thank goodness someone appears to have decided enough is enough, and read the riot act as the monkeying-around has all but stopped. Well done to whoever it was.

Thanks again, Dead BC, for screening gala, after gala, after gala until we literally lost count, as Propaganda Johno ensured a gala was held at the slightest excuse. It certainly brought musicians closer to "Zimbabweans from all walks of life".

Off course there were problems here and there at the galas, not least being the poor sound systems. And at this week's Kariba unity gala a power cut was the one notable hiccup. Now the last thing that our urban grooves stars need is a power cut. It means the inconvenience of rewinding the tape, so that they don't mime out of sync.

What was the highlight of the viewing year? Some would probably point to watching our swimming sensation Kirtsy Coventry clinching a haul of Olympic medals. But for sheer drama and excitement of the unexpected, look no further than the legislative assembly, Parliament. After a volley of vitriolic abuse from tough-talking but jelly kneed Patrick Chinamasa, burly Ray Bennett declared "wave kuda kundijairira manje, uri murume here?", as he charged towards Pat. Then it was the mighty shove and, before we knew it, old Pat had collapsed in a heap on the furniture.

Well done again Dead BC; you were there as it happened. A pat on the back again to Tazzen Mandizvidza, who gleefully rewound the drama on Behind The Camera, likening it to the make-believe world of WWF wrestling.

The low point was off course watching The Warriors - live - slump to Okocha's Super Eagles without putting on half a resistance. Shame on you, 'Warriors'.

Is anyone at the TV monopoly aware that it's almost Christmas, and the majority of the population is of the Christian persuasion? Or can we conclude efforts to rid the nation of all "vestiges of colonialism" have gathered steam. No relevant programmes on the Christmas subject have up to now been advertised. Come to think of it, it does not appear as if there will be anything to look forward to during the festive season in terms of viewing as nothing exciting is lined up.

Let's look elsewhere for entertainment. For the increasing number hooked to satellite TV, I'll be a night to remember when VH1 brings DStv audiences the music and myth of the biggest reggae superstar, the late Bob Marley, on Tuesday, January 11. The special programming will include episodes that showcase the star's albums (9.00PM), the person behind Bob Marley (10.00PM) and the best of Bob Marley (11.30PM).

Known to many as the father of reggae, Bob Marley worked tirelessly to promote reggae music, Rastafarianism and world unity. His work has outlived him for nearly two decades and yet still remains timeless and universal. Praised as a prophet, visionary and revolutionary artist, Marley possessed a talent that made him a charismatic and challenging performer.

Marley's first recording attempts came at the beginning of the 1960s as a solo artist. In 1964 he started a group called The Wailing Wailers (Bob, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingstone), which became an instant hit in Jamaica and, later, worldwide. Bob Marley and The Wailers worked their way up singing contemporary reggae which was reflected by the maturity of their music. They became the first Jamaican group to archive global superstar status with their collection of hits.

In 1976 Peter Tosh and Bunny left the band to pursue their solo careers, with Bob Marley and the remaining members releasing another hit album, Survival, which was promoted all over Europe. At the end of the tour Marley fell ill and was diagnosed with cancer. This marked the start of an eight-month battle with the disease, ending with Marley's death in a Miami Hospital on May 11 1981.

His legacy lives on and is celebrated by VH1 (DStv channel 86) on January 11.

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The Standard
The terror, beauty of life in Zim
By Tinashe Mushakavanhu

ALEXANDRA Fuller is the author of the memoir, Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood. The book describes the terror and beauty of growing up in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) in the 1970s, when the country was in the midst of an armed struggle pitting white settlers determined to hold onto power, against black nationalists agitating for independence.

It was published in 2002, a year in which there was the tightly contested Presidential election, a proliferation of political speech, writing and reportage on the land reform programme in Zimbabwe.

And perhaps, as an act of defiance to Robert Mugabe's insistence that white Zimbabweans all belong to Tony Blair's Britain, Fuller is overt in claiming a white Zimbabwean identity from the outset in her gripping memoir, though after independence in 1980 the Fullers had to move from one African country to another.

TINASHE MUSHAKAVANHU had a chat with the author regarding herself and her writing. Excerpts:

Musikavanhu: How did you pick the title of your first book, the memoir Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight?

FULLER: I picked the title from one of a vast collection of quotation books I obsessively collect and read. Titles have been easy for me both times. After the whole agony of writing a book, the title seems the least of my worries.

Scribbling the Cat was suggested by my editor. I had wanted to call the book Who Says Words With My Mouth because it felt as if I was talking about something both so unspeakable and also so unspoken.

And what would you say prompted you to sit and write this autobiography?

I WROTE Don't Lets Go to the Dogs as a reaction against the painted-over, whitewashed "white" memoirs that had come out of Africa. I think a lot of the books written by whites as a memoir of the place are soft, feel-good books about a thin layer of their experiences that ignore the innate struggle below their comfortable existence. In most white memoirs until recently, the violence and the racism had been ignored.

I wanted to show my life exactly as it had been in all its contradictory, messy, violent, poetic chaos, the tragedy of living in a "white bubble", the tragedy of fighting so hard for something so morally corrupt.

I know it was not the experience of all Rhodesians at the time but we were a part of the fabric of that time and it was certainly the way we lived.

Because you begun writing about your childhood experiences, would it be just to conclude that your childhood influenced you to be a writer?

I DON'T think my childhood influenced my need to write. I think people are either born writers, or they are not and if you are a born writer you can't help writing. My mother read to me a lot and I think she gave me a love of words.

As an individual, can you explain why you write?

I WRITE to explore the human condition. I am always amazed by the range of emotions my books evoke in people. Some people are enraged, some amused, some confused, some feel as if I have told their story. I suppose I try and show, in my work, that we're all connected - I want the reader to suspend his or her judgement about race and racists; about whites and blacks; about Africa and the West and read the story of individuals. At that very personal level, we are all connected to one another. We are the fault of one another; we are one another's responsibility and burden and blessing.

In your own view, do you think there is any political difference between colonial Africa and post-independent Africa?

WHEN you asked me if there was any political difference between colonial Africa and post-independent Africa, my instant reaction was, "What a silly question!" but then I paused and thought about the question for a long time, and I came to an uncomfortable conclusion.

The horror of my answer is no, there are not enough differences and there are far too many similarities between the old regimes and the mimic regimes that have taken their places.

Corruption, oppression and economic apartheid have too easily filled the blank places left when the colonial powers moved on. Where is that dream we once had of a colourless, equal and fair society? Too few African countries can show us an example of fair, wise governance and it is disheartening and discouraging.

Would you describe yourself as someone in exile from her motherland, since you consider Africa as your true "home"?

NO, I am not in exile from Africa. I am married to a foreigner, and have chosen to live in his country for now, that is all. I think that Zimbabweans all over the world long for their home, and that many of them consider themselves in exile. In any case, I don't really see myself being able to write about a place other than Africa, so I will have to come eventually, before I forget the smells and feel of the place altogether!

And finally, can you describe the writing process for you?

WRITING is a matter of discipline. Hours of writing are followed by hours and hours of furiously chopping away at my words until they are tight and sensible. The talent and story-collecting is really the easy part.

Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969 but in 1972 when she was only three years old, her family moved to a farm in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia. She is now based in Wyoming in the United States where she lives with her husband and two children. Her second publication is Scribbling the Cat. Last year, her tragicomic short-story, Fancy Dress, was published in the award-winning collection, Writing Still.

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