Thursday, June 28, 2012

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun

My neighbours from South Africa lent me  Peter Godwin's  2006 memoir "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun"

The title refers to an African belief that when an eclipse happens a celestial  crocodile has briefly consumed the sun and it is a warning that the crocodile is not happy about the goings on on earth.
 The book is about Zimbabwe and the insanity that the rule of Robert Mugabe has inflicted upon the people of Zimbabwe told from his perspective, the son of a Polish Jewish father and English mother who relocate after WWII to Rhodesia.

In many ways it is the story of his father a man who escaped the Nazi's and fought them with the free Pole's and his father's impoverishment at the hands of Mugabe's thugs. The story of an honorable man, an engineer who built stuff and built a better world.

I despise Mugabe. He needs a date with the Hague. There is a telling passage in the book where a Government Minister is quoted as saying that there is no need for food aid, 12 million is to large a population and 6 million would be better. There is a Cabinet Minister and medical doctor who has used the name " Hitler " he is also a war vet, unfortunately he was fighting the Zimbabwe civil  war in Poland , then part of the Warsaw pact and some how was paralysed. He now receives a disability pension from the state for 80% disability yet can walk.

The ironic part of this book is that when Godwin wrote it he believed things couldn't get worse in 2011 he wrote Fear. I will have to track a copy down.

" Returning to his native Zimbabwe in 2008, Godwin had hoped to dance on Robert Mugabe's political grave. But though Mugabe had been voted out as president, he did not concede power, instead sponsoring a brutal campaign of violence to crush his political opponents and suppress dissent in a land already devastated by hyperinflation and Mugabe's compulsory land-redistribution program. Chronicling the violence, the suffering, and the chaos; recounting the stories of torture survivors and victims of politically motivated vigilantism; and examining Mugabe's biography and politics (and placing himself in significant danger in the process), Godwin only occasionally recognizes the Zimbabwe of his childhood. But, finding heroism and resistance in the face of horrific carnage, he discovers a side of the nation that he had not known before. Much more than just the author's third memoir of Zimbabwe (after Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, 1996, and When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, 2007), this selection is an important work of witness. --Brendan Driscoll. "

Sounds like another must read book, on that note my SA neighbours have lent me  " When Mandela Goes" by Lester Venter, I am only up to page 45 and for a book published in 1997 he has made some fairly astute observations on what the future would hold, much of which has come to pass, as I said only on page 45, but I will report back here when I have finished it. 


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