I’ve been having an inordinate amount of trouble getting it published in my own country Zimbabwe – long stories, as usual. Besides that, our dead banking sector (we don’t even have a currency) has prevented many of my people from buying it using the available methods.
So for those without a credit card or international payment ability (and those who do but just couldn’t be arsed to be mildly entertained for a couple of hours), here’s a gift.
A free version in PDF format, today:
OFFER ENDED. YOU’RE TOO LATE. BUY THE THING, PLEASE.
I hope you like it, and even if you don’t, I hope you tell me why in a review on Goodreads.
If you actually can buy it, and enjoy it enough to spend a few pennies, you can buy it here:
You’re welcome, and just like I sign my paperbacks …
… Sorry it’s shit.
It’s becoming a habit, I reckon. Lately I tend to tune out and block out the social media noise when I need to focus on something.
This time, I reckon I’m just going to focus on my exams in May, and the really hard ones coming up in July. And of course I’ll be working out, and working, and just generally focusing on myself.
Besides, I can really get by without all the random videos on Facebook, and the random idiots on Twitter.
Meanwhile, you can buy my book, including the new audiobook version, here:
and many more outlets – search for ‘Ruzvidzo’ in your favourite store!
Toodles, and behave.
July 2016; members of Zimbabwe’s diaspora protest against Robert Mugabe in Johannesburg. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee / Groundup
Zimbabwe is a constant joke, I tell you. Nothing illustrates our hilarity more than the hullabaloo surrounding the so-called diaspora vote.
The so-called President of the so-called republic has announced that there will be NO diaspora vote, and embassy voting will be limited, as usual, to government employees on national duty.
Any other citizens? Screw your constitutional rights, because “we don’t have the resources.”
“We are not there yet in terms of resources, we do not have the resources to make sure that you vote from where you are. Voting won’t take you 10 minutes, so if you want to vote, just come home and in less than 10 minutes you will have finished voting and go back to your work.”
Bullshit. You could raise $1m from Zimbabwe’s diaspora before dinner to fund the diaspora vote, if you wanted to. It’s not a lack of resources that plagues us, it’s a lack of political will from ZANU-PF’s military junta.
New dispensation, indeed.
There are anything from three to five million Zimbabweans abroad, so if I just say two million are of voting age, divided into one million dollars before dinner, that equals a hypothetical fifty cents per hypothetical voter. And that’s just before dinner, tonight.
And also, how interesting is it that the so-called President of the so-called republic has pronounced that it will not happen, even after the Constitutional Court has kicked the can down the road and reserved judgement on the matter?
Or is that judgement being released in ten years or something? It wouldn’t surprise me.
And then I hear shit like “… just come home and vote …” from a fellow citizen. I find this very strange – baffling, even.
If you’re comfortable with MY rights (which are constitutionally protected by the way) being so easily abridged, what makes you think that YOU have any rights at all?
Today, It’s my right to vote being infringed upon, and you say haaa just come home and vote, man, (because we all have $1200 lying around of course).
Yet tomorrow, you’ll get arrested for your journalism, or have your house demolished, or even for something stupid like taxes or whatever or at a roadblock and the cops or soldiers may beat your ass, then you’ll come crying to me for support!
Listen – if ANY Zimbabwean has no rights, then NO Zimbabwean has any rights.
Today you’ll say “Joe come home and vote, what constitution what ConCourt blah blah,” yet tomorrow you’ll be whining about how the same constitution guarantees you the right to clean water, and then wonder why there’s nobody there to speak up for your rights.
This is, of course, for the ordinary citizens who have taken up this no-diaspora-vote mantra.
I’m not talking to the ED / ZANU political operatives – like I said before, those can fuck off forever.
I don’t argue anymore; I just swear.
Now that the audiobook of Behind Enemy Lines and Other Stories is complete and will be available on all platforms soon, here’s a sample. If you weren’t completely turned off by the sound of my voice in the Radio France Internationale interview, give this a listen and tell me what you think.
“A lovely little collection of stories. Ruzvidzo sets aside the grand social and political themes common in certain African writing. Instead, he captures those understated moments of everyday life. The stories are compelling in their warmth and humor. Even where they explore tragic moments, the humor, drama, and suspense are there to lighten the impact on the reader. Keeps his writing grounded in a way that readers will find relatable.” – Ainehi Edoro, Brittle Paper
It’s a measly $2.99 for the electronic version, $8.99 for paperback and $14.99 for the hardback.
Have at it, if you dare.
Update – The first distributor of the audiobook is live. I’ll add the links as they go up, but first is audiobooks.com!
Last week, I was on Radio France Internationale (RFI) being interviewed about my book, ‘Behind Enemy Lines and Other Stories’.
In this month’s Africa: Stories in the 55, Zimbabwean author Joe Ruzvidzo explores coming-of-age in the years after the Liberation War, in his short story collection, Behind Enemy Lines.
Ruzvidzo writes on the cutting edge– his characters pawns or kings, depending on the readers’ perception. In “The Order”, set in 2023, Ruzvidzo’s story of a military takeover of the country reveals some interesting parallels to Zimbabwe’s own recent history and new president. His characters live through bullying, love, even deception by a parent, packing a seven-story punch with a bonus ending poem.
This was a huge deal for me, because RFI is a French public radio service that broadcasts in Paris and all over the world. With 35.6 million listeners in 2008, it is one of the most listened to international radio stations in the world, along with BBC World Service, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle.
I have had a long running spiritual conversation with myself, for over a decade. A massive debate, to be honest.
Some time ago, I decided that gods cannot possibly exist, and even if they did, they couldn’t afford to reveal themselves.
Have you passed a beggar on the street, or at the traffic lights, and done nothing? Doing nothing is a choice swollen with omnipotence. It is, in fact, godly.
And this, you should realise, is the reason why your gods do nothing. Proof of their omniscience.
After all, to act is to announce awful limitations, for it reveals that chance acted first, that accidents are just that — events beyond the will of the gods — and all they can do in answer is to attempt to remedy the consequences, to alter natural ends.
To act, then, is an admission of fallibility. And nobody, not even a god, likes to admit that things are out of their control!
But maybe, just maybe, atheism is also a form of mental self-care. Killing off our gods for the sake of our own sanity, if you will.
By thirty, we have made some of our biggest mistakes. Whether we’re on the road to redemption is something else altogether, but surely we make our biggest mistakes in our twenties.
If you follow the story of Zimbabwe on social media and in the Western-sponsored regime-change media, you will have been subjected to a barrage of negative stuff over the past few days.
Empty store shelves! Fuel queues! Bulk buying! Crisis! Crisis! Crisis!
Of course, that my people have been sleeping outside banks for a year, and there’s no fucking money to be had anyway, is momentarily forgotten. Anyway.
The prevailing “panic” has it that Zimbabwe is headed for 2008, or it’s not and this is the problem of social media, or profiteers, or The West, depending on who you’re listening to.
And in the midst of all this, there are some who default to the annoying rhetoric of “Zimbabweans are docile cowards who deserve their leadership and will have to suffer more before they do something vague and mumble mumble find solutions something something solve their problem mumble.”
In the middle of a crisis, any crisis, you’ll always find assholes who will blame the victims of that crisis, not the actual perpetrators.
People are scared, and rightly so – “2008” is not some abstract bogeyman of a year that we use to scare our little kids and political opponents and soron. It was a real thing and a real time.
The fear of 2008 is a palpable thing, an actual visceral fear, a horror, but I guess you wouldn’t understand it if you didn’t experience it. If you were cushioned from the worst of it, or were thankfully absent, I’m not sure how much empathy you can feel for people who crumble at the thought of returning to that dark time.
People died of hunger. People struggled to find food. Those are the lived experiences of our people who went through that period.
Hell, I suffered through that shit.
If a person chooses to spend all their money in a supermarket today that’s their money.
If someone decides they’d rather keep cooking oil or sugar, rather than “bond notes” (whatever the hell they are) in their house, I can’t fault them for that.
Insulting and criticising them makes you an asshole, and as King of the Assholes, I know what I’m talking about.
Those people don’t eat sadza at your house.
What else is inspiring a sense of deja vu? They’ve arrested the flag pastor again. Evan Mawarire was arrested outside his church yesterday, a day before his trial commences today, for … speaking into his telephone on Facebook. Or something.
While the government of Zimbabwe is engaging in their usual repressive bullshit, and can always be counted on to take the worst possible course in any situation, let’s hope the guy is safe.
We know how ZANU-PF does.
In related hilarity, I took a short sarcastic dig at all the people who were moaning about being abandoned by their man in their time of need. I was wondering just where they all were, now that he was back again, being arrested again, and whether they’d Fill Up The Courts again.
“Pastor E sold us out, he used us then he fled to America …”
— Joe Black ?? (@joeblackzw) September 24, 2017
The spectacular failure in comprehension displayed by some of my fellow Zimbabweans, in response, is interesting to behold. I guess being a TouchNot reduces your ability to see past The Anointed One’s name, and everything else is ignored.
So much for the most educated nation in Africa. Stupidity offends me.
Oh yeah. Almost forgot. That June hiatus was actually to focus on a temporary migration to faraway lands to do bookish things and soron. So I’ve left for a bit, but I haven’t Left left. I’ll be back soon.
I do this thing sometimes, where I disconnect from all my personal social media accounts for a month.
It’s usually when I’m under a lot of work pressure, or I need to focus all my energy and concentrate on one particular thing.
Strangely, I managed to pick October as the month when I take time off, and I’m sure this year will be the same, seeing as I have fucking exams in November.
But I’m doing the same in June – I do have a lot of work, study, and Real Life Shit to take care off. And I’ll try to come back with a bang, or at least energised. A couple of years ago, I returned with NBO Magazine, and last year I returned in a different country.
Play nice, children, and don’t forget to buy the damn book.
Last night was a pretty ordinary night for HIFA. While we understand the operational challenges they’re experiencing, waiting 40 minutes for the opening show to begin wasn’t fun.
The show itself was worth it, and knowing how finances are, my wife and I even appreciated the tiny fireworks display.
Unlike *each* previous Harare International Festival of the Arts, we couldn’t hang around the Green too long, so around ten we bought our takeaway curries and bade farewell to our mates.
That’s when the nightmare began.
We walked all the way to the Global Quarter only to be told it was closed, including the exit gate, because there wasn’t enough security to guard the Craft Market wares.
Fine. Walk back around the toilets and use that gate? That’s alright. We understand.
Now, we always park in the same place. Park Lane, NSSA side, right by the park gate, which also leads to HIFA’s Global Quarter gate.
When we’d arrived earlier around half past six, we were pleased to see the car guards wearing red HIFA jumpers. Security, we thought. Awesome. They were friendly, too.
As we were walking out, I carrying the two takeaway containers, She carrying the car keys, we saw three of these security guys sitting just outside the park gate, on the curb.
As we walked across the road to the car, one of them yelled out asking for a tip. I told him I’d run out of cash inside the festival; he yelled out for just coins, and I said I had none.
By this time we were almost by the car, and this guy got up and aggressively chased me down. They may have given us jobs but you want us to turn into street kid mode, he screamed at me.
He came to my car door yelling, and as I got into the passenger seat, he slammed the car door after me, barely missing my left foot.
At this point, my wife was at the driver’s side with her purse out, telling him that wasn’t necessary because she was about to give him money (her last US$2 note, turns out) but now she won’t.
So he walked around the car and charged at her, swearing about her purse and she quickly jumped into the driver’s seat and locked the door.
By this time the other two had also crossed the road to our car, I assumed to restrain their colleague.
They also started yelling and swearing. By this time my wife had started the car, and Guy One was now banging on the drivers side window, swearing at us and shouting.
As she switched on the lights, he then attempted to open her door, which she’d thankfuly locked, and I told her to drive off. We lifted off in a rush, turned left into Selous, and left up Second Street.
Now, I have never been harassed by car guards on that street before (every previous HIFA, that’s where we’ve parked).
I’ve even let my wife walk out that gate and drive off alone, because we’ve always felt safe and secure at HIFA.
We’ll now be parking elsewhere, and I’d advise anyone else going to HIFA 2017 to use well lit parking and avoid that Park Lane gate.
It was dark and there were three of them against myself and my very petite wife, so anything could have happened.
To the HIFA management and event security staff, I hope you do something about this. It’s unacceptable. We have supported this festival for years and have never encountered such problems.
Maybe posting a real security man by that NSSA Park Lane gate to keep an eye on the street kids you hired and decked out in your branded jumpers? I don’t know. Not my circus, not my monkeys.
If we didn’t already have a full envelope of tickets for the rest of the festival, I’m not sure I’d return. But I will.
Let me bet on the response: “We urge patrons to use parking indicated on the map of the festival venue indicated in our programme.”
I wouldn’t rule out intoxication, but that would just be another reason to be pissed.
Update – I tweeted this when we got home last night. It confirms the time, so I’ve amended the story above from “around eleven” to “around ten”.
— Joe Black ?? (@joeblackzw) May 2, 2017
Update 2 – I communicated with Tafadzwa Simba of HIFA, and eventually got this response on the action taken.
I checked yesterday and the matter had been looked at and the police were informed. Two individuals were dismissed. The whole system has since been made aware of this and is on the look-out for any errant behaviour.