Book review: The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe

via Book review: The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 12, 2016

Author: David Coltart
Title: The Struggle Continues, 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe, Aukland Park, SA. Jacana Media, Paper back (647 pages). ( Includes: End notes, List of Acronyms, Select Bibliography, Index of names) 2016.

The Struggle Continues, 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe is an incisive, truthful and empathic book. This publication is timely for those interested in the peaceful resolution of Zimbabwe’s woes. The book is best read as a whole in order to understand the nascent clarion call, to be hopeful about the future. The incisive reflection includes the perennial call right through the book for the need for a non-violent struggle to total freedom; the advent of independence and its aftermath. Highlights include: suspicions raised by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s rejection of the invitation to be Zimbabwe’s first titular President, the dissident menace, destruction of property and the abduction of foreign tourists, Fifth Brigade and the Unity Accord between PF Zapu and Zanu, the role of the Bulawayo Legal Project Centre, the impact of reckless speech and political and economic decay, the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), 2000 elections and its aftermath. For those interested in the recent history of Zimbabwe, chapters 14, “Prelude to Mayhem”, to chapter 27, “Towards a new Constitution — The end of the beginning” are invaluable. The greatest contribution by the book is in revealing and clarifying facts, which have been hitherto obscure, oblique, covert or falsified. The most critical contribution by the book though, is a call for a Truth Commission for both the Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe eras. This it is hoped will help Zimbabweans move on and degrade the culture of suspicion.

By Bhekimpilo Sibanda

David Coltart’s autobiography gives a panoramic view, of a very critical period in the political and economic development of Zimbabwe. He was more or less aged seven when the struggle, he narrates, begins. The winds of change were blowing from every direction and colonialism was crumbling. The 1950s and 60s witnessed the heightening of the so-called cold war. Global geopolitics was focused on the two major camps, communism versus capitalism. Starting with Ghana, African nationalism was sweeping away the old order and ushering in independence. The colonisers were letting go their less prized colonies and consolidating their forces in the southern states of Africa. South Africa and Zimbabwe were the focal sanctuaries. Southern Rhodesia then was recruiting white people to come and settle. Coltart was born in Gweru where his parents had chosen to work, marry and settle. He was born into a land of exaggerated white racist privilege, which was designed to encourage more immigrants. Most of the immigrants in Rhodesia were eclectic in their composition: many responded to direct advertisements promising them better life and employment, while others even included Second World War Eastern European orphaned children or were people who had suffered under communism in their own countries and hated the spread of communism worldwide.

The book is simply written and easy to read. It is divided into 29 chapters. Chapters one to seven narrate the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland days and its doom. Malawian and Zambian nationalists were vehemently opposed to the federation because they did not want Rhodesian racism brought into their countries. On the face of this, white opinion was divided as to how much accommodation could be made of nationalist views which led to the collapse of the Garfield Todd, David Whitehead and Winston Field governments and the advent of Ian Smith. It had been a condition of the British government that in order for the period of the federation to be extended, there was to be visible African development. And there was some. The University of Zimbabwe (1955) Mpilo and Harare hospitals, Luveve Technical College, The old Bulawayo Railways headquarters buildings and many other social developments, like introduction of medical and nurse education for blacks and enhancement of teacher training, which Todd had spearheaded earlier at Dadaya Mission. Ironically the global political climate clouded these developments. Coltart, while noting that Smith was revered by most whites, had some very uncomplimentary words about him, especially as regards to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, as his family cared more about the Queen of England not the fate of blacks.

Coltart went to one of the best primary schools in Bulawayo, a government school and later proceeded to the Christian Brothers College for secondary education and finally studied law at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The white privileges after 1965, did not come on a silver platter. One had to enlist for what was called “call up” in order to contribute to the war effort. Coltart found himself with a difficult choice to make, and chose to train as a policeman. White privilege placed him in command and senior to blacks immediately after his pass out. His experiences as a policemen see him posted in Kezi and Sun Yet San in the same districts. Later he goes on call up and his experiences are not earth shattering.

What the reader may find special, is his spirit of voluntarism, at the Legal Aid Clinic at UCT. This involvement, particularly with disadvantaged communities sowed the seed in him of compassion for others less endowed.

Chapters nine to 13 reflect on the early years of independence and the turbulence that followed. Electioneering messages were sometimes inflammatory and a cause for real concern. Some districts were no-go areas for Zapu. But Lord Soames, with the help of British monitors allowed the elections to go ahead. Unfortunately, this culture of impunity is what occupies the rest of Coltart’s book. April 18, 1980 marked the independence day for Zimbabwe. The period after independence was marked by tremendous advancement and development, especially in the fields of education and health. Of concern though was that coupled with these genuine steps forward, came along a “chef” mentality by the rulers. The people were reduced to “povo” in the real sense. The ideology in Zimbabwe went across the grain thundering global storms of change. The neo-Chinese/communists ideology was merely rhetoric which was trashed and trivialised very early at independence. The rulers were very concerned with “whiteness”, (whiteness here meaning white culture) which some aspired to be.

Coltart describes the Gukurahundi saga in some detail and his involvement with the Bulawayo Legal Aid Centre, which helped document some of the massacres. He does this with care, empathy and detail. The tremendous support by religious leaders in Matabeleland and Dr Davis at St Luke’s Hospital are commended. Besides just downright tribalism, there are other Gukurahundi causatives: unguarded and misleading talk from both sides, liberation war suspicions still lingering on among former freedom fighters; the rejection by Nkomo of the position of President, lacked pro-active advice; the abduction of foreign visitors in Umguza led to diminished sympathy of the Gukurahundi actions in the area. In addition to researching and documenting the Gukurahundi saga, Coltart became heavily involved in representing Zapu leaders, who were arrested, detained or harassed for one reason or the other. He observes correctly that the work he was involved in in Breaking the Silence, is just a small part of the whole scene, which they could not document, due to risks involved and limited funding. Coltart at this time narrates a tale of two countries in one. Matabeleland and some parts of the Midlands were living in a state of continued war until the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987. On one hand, the burning of development equipment, the abduction of tourists and the killing of innocent people and the Gayigusu missionary massacre incident, described vividly by Coltart, tear into any heart. On the other hand, the disproportionate reaction by government forces: wholesale burning of villages, cutting open of pregnant women, burying of people alive, rape and causing general alarm and despondency among people in Matabeleland can never escape the perception that it was genocide.

The period of mayhem begins round about 1997/99. Starving genuine war veterans and hangers on begin to demand compensation influenced by Chenjerai Hunzwi. Senior government officials were looting the war compensation fund. Ordinary war vets, who had been injured wanted their heads in the trough too. The government, sensing danger, capitulated and offered Z$50 000 to those perceived as qualifying. The Zimbabwe dollar crashed, and Coltart captures the aftermath vividly. In the meantime, many people began to ring alarm bells through the formation of several unsuccessful opposition parties and forums. The rise and fall of these formations is captured and narrated accurately in the book. Some war vets began to occupy farms. What happened later, many Zimbabweans, will record this as exactly the same with Gukurahundi unleashed on a section of defenceless Zimbabweans whose only hope was that their government would defend them. Both aMaNdebele and Shona spirits do not condone malice and cowardice and the ill-treatment of those who are defenceless or have surrendered, Coltart would say God feels unhappy with those who spite the defenceless.

Chapters 21 to 27 offer the reader a chilling history of Zimbabwe from the year 2000 to the present, this was outlined briefly in the introduction. The decline of the Zimbabwean dollar accelerated by the unplanned payout to war veterans, saw the Zimbabwean economy plummet to unprecedented levels. Coltart describes how difficult it was to get anything, starting off with fuel, where people had to sleep in long queues to empty shops and supermarkets. Inflation was at its highest and among the worst ever seen in a non-combat zone.

Politically, one of the most disturbing episodes in Zimbabwe’s history begins with the formation of the MDC. Coltart becomes a founding member. Most of what he narrates is public knowledge and, therefore, of common cause to most interested Zimbabweans. The only problem to some people may be that all of it is true. Of deep concern was the violence, which was one of the causes of the split in 2005. A major cause of the split was the MDC’s lack of an ideological under-pinning. Many people were lost forever because of the “disappear phenomenon”, which included Patrick Nabanyama, Coltart’s first campaign manager.

Economic decay continued unabated until Mugabe relented to an early election and a Government of National unity was formed in 2009. During the period from 2000, very repressive media laws were introduced to Zimbabwe. These would prove to be Zimbabwe’s Achilles heel until today. Media monopoly by the State was reinforced by the enactment of two pieces of legislation, Aippa and Posa, zealously enforced by Jonathan Moyo, who was Minister of Information. The dangers of relying on external parties to solve your problems are clearly narrated and the role of the South African government and Sadc placed into focus. The GNU saw many MDC parliamentarians and their leaders make a beeline for the feeding trough. The trappings of power were too comfortable and very little, besides a new constitution was achieved. Whether by foul or honest means, the MDCs lost the 2013 elections and this led to further splinters causing many people to lose hope.

Out of his 15 years in Parliament, the last five chronicle the state of decay in the Zimbabwean education system, which confronted him as the Minister of Education Sport and Culture. The books received by every school from 2011 leave pleasant memories to many as an indicator of what can be achieved through collaboration. Sadly after his departure from government, education and the economy are sliding back. The struggle, for better schools and education, health, food and the economy continues is the loud battle cry by the book. The book is a good one and I give it eight out 10.

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 23
  • comment-avatar
    Piankhi 6 years ago

    The same white boy, who was part of the Smith regime, now says he has the solution to the problems of Zimbabwe now that it is under black rule. Tell that white devil his time is done. This is the same devil that profited off Zimbabweans for years and now he wants for all Zimbabweans to forget all the madness that the Smith regime put on native Zimbabweans and now focus on the Black ruler ship. Tell the dog forget it. How one of your oppressors is now will volunteer his solutions to make things better for whom? The white minority. Remember your enemy will never be your foe. Any white dogs that have occupied my peoples land have to go. Keep their opinions and suggestions to themselves. Just a cover for them to stay in our countries to keep them unstable and extend the chaos as they currently are doing now. Tell Coltart to go stand in the Sun and burn up. He is nothing more than a worthless white devil once again throwing distractions in the way of my people so we cannot get to the work that needs to be done of our own accord. Well tell that white boy the African American that they shipped overseas 450 years ago is home to help my people rid themselves of these parasites cave dwelling Europeans and Arabs. Time to go. We survived before you invaded our continent, and we will survive when you’re gone. Remember my African people, we where the first on the planet and we will be the last. So as in the beginning, it shall be in the end.

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    Chokwadi 6 years ago

    Yo, just because your ancestors were shipped from Africa and you were born and raised in USA doesn’t give you the authority to comment on our “lost lives” here in Zims. We’ve had enough of these ZANU thieving thugs with their rigged elections. I bet a good majority of Zimbos would welcome the good old Smith days when we had everything except equality. Coltart is only telling it like it is.

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      Piankhi 6 years ago

      WELL MY BROTHER. YOU ARE MORE THAN WELCOME TO GO BACK AND BE A SLAVE FOR YOUR WHITE OPPRESSOR. YOU SEE YOU TALK LIKE ONE OF THE NIGGERS THAT SOLD MY PEOPLE TO THE WHITE MAN. FOR YOUR OWN PROFIT. YOU CARE NOTHING ABOUT YOUR PEOPLE. YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT THE WORTHLESS PIECE OF PAPER WITH YOUR SLAVE MASTER ON IT. IT BLACKS LIKE YOU THAT ARE NOT WILLING TO DIE FOR WHAT IS YOURS. BUT YOU WILL ACCEPT THE CRUMBS OF YOUR OPPRESSORS FOR GENERATIONS TO COME. I WONDER IF YOUR CHILDREN OR WIFE VIEW YOU AS A REAL MAN. THIS IS NOT ABOUT MUGABE OR HIS GOVERNMENT. THIS IS ABOUT OUR PEOPLE. MUGABE WILL NOT BE AROUND FOREVER. BUT IT IS LAZY NIGGERS LIKE YOU THAT WILL SELL THEIR SOUL TO THESE WHITE DEVILS. SO PLEASE GO BACK WITH YOUR WHITE MASTERS. SO THE OTHER BLACKS WHO DIED TO FREE THIS COUNTRY WILL KNOW WHAT KIND OF WORTHLESS TRADER YOU ARE. ANOTHER BLACK CAUCASIAN. YOU EITHER STAND FOR SOMETHING, OR DIE FOR NOTHING. NO OTHER OPTIONS

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    Grow up son. Your immaturity and racism is embarrassing and that sort of thinking has destroyed the country.

    You don’t have to think like, you just have to THINK

    • comment-avatar
      Piankhi 6 years ago

      My thinking boy. IF IT AIN’T BLACK. YOU MUST TAKE IT BACK. You see as an African American we learned the hard way. The most tortured group of people in the history of any race of people on the planet. Fact. 400 Million of my brothers and sisters murdered over 450 year period. Including current. You know why the white man writes all the history books. Because he won the wars. Now its a different game. White people can keep: HIS STORY. I AM NOT INTERESTED. ONLY MY STORY, WHICH WHICH PEOPLE TAUGHT US AS A MYSTERY. OUR STORY IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS, PERIOD. LOVE FOR SELF AND KIND FIRST, BEFORE YOU ARE DECEIVED INTO LOVING OTHERS THAT DO NOT HAVE YOUR BEST INTEREST IN THEIR HEART. IT IS SO FUNNY TO SEE WHITE PEOPLE ECONOMIES FALLING. REMINDS ME OF ROME AND GREECE. FULL CIRCLE HAS COME. ALL IS. I AM, FOR WITHOUT ALL, I WOULD NOT BE. THE ALL IS MY ANCESTORS. ALL IN ME. DNA

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    mbuyazwe 6 years ago

    Its people like you phianki whatever you call yourself who are drugging this country backwards. The truth hurts and that is the truth- your racism will take you nowhere no wonder this country is moving back to stone age era-

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      Piankhi 6 years ago

      OH AND REMEMBER. BLACKS DO NOT COME FROM THE STONE AGE ERA. YOUR CROMAGDAN PEOPLE DO. WELL THEN YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS. THERE YOU GO AGO, TRY GO PAST ALL THE DAMAGE YOUR PEOPLE HAVE DONE IN OUR PAST, AND HAVE SELECTED MEMORY ABOUT TODAY.

      WHAT I TEACH MY CHILDREN. NEVER FORGET YOUR PAST, BECAUSE YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING IN THE PRESENT. AND MY PEOPLE WILL BE REMINDED OF THE PAST CLEARLY OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO MY PEOPLE. AND THEY WILL AWAKEN FROM THE SPELL YOUR KIND HAVE PUT ON THEM. YOU SOME TIME YOU HAVE TO ANGER A PERSON, IN ORDER FOR THEM TO SEE THE TRUTH. ALL OF IT. NOT JUST TODAY. BUT PAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. WE WILL START WRITING A DOCUMENTARY OF THE 100 YEAR OCCUPATION OF YOUR PEOPLE IN THIS LAND. THE TRUTH, AND THEN MY PEOPLE WORLDWIDE WILL KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR KIND. ON THE BIG MOVIE SCREEN. TO SEE THE REAL ANIMAL NATURE OF OUR PEOPLE WORLDWIDE. MURDER, MADNESS, AND CHAOS YOU HAVE SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD. ALL THOSE YOU HAVE OPPRESSED WILL AWAIT OR THEY WILL PERISH. JUST THE REALITY. FULL CIRCLE I SAID HAS COME. GOOD BYE CAUCUS ASIAN LEPROSY PEOPLE. STAY OUT OF THE SUN, YOU KNOW ITS YOUR NUMBER ONE ENEMY.

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    gwanzura 6 years ago

    No wonder this country is going back to stone era- this kind of racism has destroyed this country beyond repair – instead of reflecting with the author of the book you are hammering nonsense the truth really hurts-

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    I will pay your one way ticket back to Zimbabwe the failed country not because it’s run by a black but a. bloody thug.
    And by the way black sold their own people together with the Arabs. What the whites did then is shameful but that was their unconscious stupid behavior. You need to grow up or ship yourself back to zimbabwe. If you are part of the thuggery you can obviously survive have 7 small house got your whores and build your 25 bedroom homes while your own people suffer. My god you are bloody stupid.

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    Zambuko 6 years ago

    “Remember your enemy will never be your foe.” Piankhi, 2016.

    Setting the debate, so far, aside it will be interesting to read the book to get a fresh perspective on our recent history. I am looking forward to the journey.

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    Lord Tantamount Horseposture 6 years ago

    Jolly good point, Codswallop! Reminds me of the war. Cardigan got it all wrong! Bloody Russians! Now this Mugabe fellow. Up the Paddle without a Creek, by the looks of things. Missing cattle, seems like. Travels a smidgen. Bit like Rome when Fiddle Burns. High tone Christian woman. I wander. Snifta anyone?

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    psalms 58 6 years ago

    Pianki you have a perfect combination of naivety stupidity.

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    Why do you now not want to go home to Daddy Mugabe. Is your free meal ticket in the USA and enough government hands out to pay for your tattoos booze and women. Get a life, grow up and work for your living not like your buddy Mugabe and his henchmen. Zimbabwean blacks have diginity that has been shattered by a thug. You are so far up Mugabe’s rear end and you still cannot smell the purification that is the decay of a once wonderful country.

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    when coltart was minister of education in the GNU (2009 to 2013), there was significant progress for the government schools: books, buildings, teachers, inspectors and a strongly supportive ministry.
    this was an excellent example focussing on productivity that all ministries in zimbabwe should try to emulate.
    well done david coltart.
    sadly mugabe prefers that his ministers lick his …. !

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      Piankhi 6 years ago

      Wow, Coltart actually did something to better schools. How did the segregated program work for him. There is nothing that can make up for the punishment your people put native Zimbabwean through. To little to late. And all the while still teaching Blacks a colonial system, nothing about Zimbabwean culture. I am not worried about Mugabe, he to will past. Just as the whites time have passed. Now it goes back to the Zimbabwe people. You are just pissed off because your white priviledge has been distrubed. If not blacks would still be in servitude to whites. Try to make it pretty if you can. The facts are, that Zimbabwe is in chaos because of the occuption by white people well over 100 years ago. Screwed a race of people for a small minority to prosper. Facts. Yes my people and done bad things to each other. But they learned them from whites. They are just carrying on the rule the whites had priviledge in. Until they get rid of the colonial governing system no African country will prosper. A slave and slave master cannot worship the same God.

      • comment-avatar
        psalms 58 6 years ago

        I take back my earlier comment you are a perfect example of rabbid stupidly. Explain Liberia? Charles Taylor? Go find another forum where people will listen to a racist little armchair activist.

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        as i walked out the door towards my freedom, i knew that if i did not leave all the anger hatred and bitterness behind, then i would still be in prison.
        Nelson Mandela

        • comment-avatar
          Piankhi 6 years ago

          Yes, it’s true. Leave the anger behind, and have clarity. But what did Nelson Mandela leave behind. A rainbow nation. With all the other colors of the rainbow prospering accept our people. You do not have to be violent in liberation unless it is to defend what is yours. You see my people have this funny way of trying to be equal in their own homeland from the occupiers. They still want to negotiate with thieves. Not knowing what they are asking for was already theirs. Me as an African American and my mom from Uganda. I got a sense of both side of the oceans. Now we are at a time in our existence not to have and ask for what is rightfully ours. Our homeland, our culture, all that our ancestors left us, and were taken by others. A thief is a thief no matter how they receive their wealth generations later. Because surely they are enjoying the benefits of the suffering that their forefathers put on my people. So the question is? Do I have to ask for what is rightfully mine? What you if the shoe was on the other foot. I respect Nelson Mandela, but he compromised and looks what our people have now. Nothing but hope, faith, and belief in their oppressor image that they will do the right thing and return to the oppressed what is rightfully theirs. How’s that working out for my people today worldwide? Change is coming, for certain. Ask me a question, and I will only reply with facts, not opinions, or what someone else thinks. Only facts. Sometimes blindness is self inflicted. And my people have a very serious case of blindness to what is right in front of their face. It is my job to help my people to restore their sight. To see the facts. That’s it.

      • comment-avatar

        a relevant quotation for pinkhi.

        as i walked out the door towards my freedom, i knew that if i did not leave all the anger hatred and bitterness behind, then i would still be in prison.
        Nelson Mandela

        • comment-avatar
          Piankhi 6 years ago

          The nation of our people is bigger than one man’s image. As you can see here in Zimbabwe. No one man should stand over his people. But rather lead them as a single people. That is the difference between being and President and being a Leader. Was Mandela a Leader of SA when he came out from prison? Or was he merely a President put there for gives an image of success to his people. Again, how is that working out for South African these days? So the questions would be is: Why would the whites and other foreign races not native to that country be upset today when asked to hand over back to the native people that which was taken from them? Or is the minority still the ruling class, of privilege that made most of the laws our people still live by, but that does not serve them as equals.

        • comment-avatar
          Piankhi 6 years ago

          Yes, it’s true. Leave the anger behind, and have clarity. But what did Nelson Mandela leave behind. A rainbow nation. With all the other colors of the rainbow prospering accept our people. You do not have to be violent in liberation unless it is to defend what is yours. You see my people have this funny way of trying to be equal in their own homeland from the occupiers. They still want to negotiate with thieves. Not knowing what they are asking for was already theirs. Me as an African American and my mom from Uganda. I got a sense of both side of the oceans. Now we are at a time in our existence not to have and ask for what is rightfully ours. Our homeland, our culture, all that our ancestors left us, and were taken by others. A thief is a thief no matter how they receive their wealth generations later. Because surely they are enjoying the benefits of the suffering that their forefathers put on my people. So the question is? Do I have to ask for what is rightfully mine? What you if the shoe was on the other foot. I respect Nelson Mandela, but he compromised and looks what our people have now. Nothing but hope, faith, and belief in their oppressor image that they will do the right thing and return to the oppressed what is rightfully theirs. How’s that working out for my people today worldwide? Change is coming, for certain. Ask me a question, and I will only reply with facts, not opinions, or what someone else thinks. Only facts. Sometimes blindness is self inflicted. And my people have a very serious case of blindness to what is right in front of their face. It is my job to help my people to restore their sight. To see the facts. That’s it.

  • comment-avatar
    Farai 6 years ago

    Piankhi you are nothing more than a small minded peasant, it’s obvious from your comments that you don’t even understand what’s happening in Zimbabwe! You clearly just have an axe to grind with the white man because of something that happened to your great grandfather and now you feel like a victim you are an idiot!

    • comment-avatar
      Piankhi 6 years ago

      I never play a victim. Because I, unlike most of my people, I can defend myself. Most of my people are not that strong. But that will change. Call me what you will. But there will be no ass kissing with the enemy, white, arab, Indian, blacks or others. This is a new game. Watch how we work. The Gods come home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!