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.
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.
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.
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.
4 March, 1980
17th April 1980
Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe Independence Speech – 17 April, 1980
The final countdown before the launching of the new State of Zimbabwe has now begun. Only a few hours from now, Zimbabwe will have become a free, independent and sovereign state, free to choose its own flight path and chart its own course to its chosen destiny. Its people have made a democratic choice of those who as their legitimate Government, they wish to govern them and take policy decisions as to their future.
This, indeed, is the meaning of the mandate my party secured through a free and fair election, conducted in the full glare of the world’s spotlight. While my Government welcomes the mandate it has been freely given and is determined to honour it to the letter, it also accepts that the fulfillment of the tasks imposed by the mandate are only possible with the confidence, goodwill and co-operation of all of you, reinforced by the forthcoming support and encouragement of all our friends, allies, and well wishers in the international community.
The march to our national independence has been a long, arduous and hazardous one. On this march, countless lives have been lost and many sacrifices made. Death and suffering have been the prize we have been called upon to pay for the final priceless reward of freedom and national independence. May I thank all of you who have had to suffer and sacrifice for the reward we are now getting.
Tomorrow we shall be celebrating the historic event, which our people have striven for nearly a century to achieve. Our people, young and old, men and women, black and white, living and dead, are, on this occasion, being brought together in a new form of national unity that makes them all Zimbabweans. Independence will bestow on us a new personality, a new sovereignty, a new future and perspective, and indeed a new history and a new past. Tomorrow we are being born again; born again not as individuals but collectively as a people, nay, as a viable nation of Zimbabweans.
Tomorrow is thus our birthday, the birth of a great Zimbabwe, and the birth of its nation. Tomorrow we shall cease to be men and women of the past and become men and women of the future. It’s tomorrow then, not yesterday, which bears our destiny. As we become a new people we are called to be constructive, progressive and forever forward looking, for we cannot afford to be men of yesterday, backward-looking, retrogressive and destructive. Our new nation requires of every one of us to be a new man, with a new mind, a new heart and a new spirit. Our new mind must have a new vision and our new hearts a new love that spurns hate, and a new spirit that must unite and not divide.
This to me is the human essence that must form the core of our political change and national independence. Henceforth, you and I must strive to adapt ourselves, intellectually and spiritually to the reality of our political change and relate to each other as brothers bound one to another by a bond of national comradeship. If yesterday I fought as an enemy, today you have become a friend and ally with the same national interest, loyalty, rights and duties as myself. If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you to me and me to you. Is it not folly, therefore, that in these circumstances anybody should seek to revive the wounds and grievances of the past? The wrongs of the past must now stand forgiven and forgotten. If ever we look to the past, let us do so for the lesson the past has taught us, namely that oppression and racism are inequities that must never again find scope in our political and social system. It could never be a correct justification that because whites oppressed us yesterday when they had power, the blacks must oppress them today because they have power.
An evil remains an evil whether practiced by white against black or by black against white. Our majority rule could easily turn into inhuman rule if we oppressed, persecuted or harassed those who do not look or think like the majority of us. Democracy is never mob-rule. It is and should remain disciplined rule requiring compliance with the law and social rules. Our independence must thus not be construed as an instrument vesting individuals or groups with the right to harass and intimidate others into acting against their will. It is not the right to negate the freedom of others to think and act, as they desire.
I, therefore, wish to appeal to all of you to respect each other and act in promotion of national unity rather than negation of that unity. On Independence Day, our integrated security forces will, in spite of their having only recently fought each other, be marching in step together to herald the new era of national unity and togetherness.
Let this be an example of us all to follow. Indeed, let this enjoin the whole of our nation to march in perfect unison from year to year and decade to decade towards its destiny. We have abundant mineral, agricultural and human resources to exploit and develop for which we need perfect peace. Given such peace, our endeavours to transform our society and raise our standard of living are bound to succeed. The mineral resources lying beneath the surface of our country have hardly been scratched, nor have our agricultural and industrial resources yet fully harnessed. Now that we have peace, we must go fully out to exploit them. We already have a sophisticated infrastructure. Our expertise is bound to increase as more and more educational and technical institutions are established to transform our skilled manpower. The whole world is looking on us this day.
Indeed, many countries in the international community are amazed at how we have so quickly and unexpectedly moved from war to peace. We have certainly won the goodwill of many countries and can confidently expect to benefit from the economic and technical aid they are able and willing to provide for us. May I assure you that my Government is determined to bring about meaningful change to the lives of the majority of the people in the country. But I must ask you to be patient and allow my Government time to organize programmes that will effectively yield that change. There are people without land who need land, people without jobs who need jobs, children without schools who need schools and patients without hospitals who need them. We are also fully aware of the need for increased wages in all sectors of employment. My Government will certainly do its best to meet the existing needs in these areas. But you have to assist us by being patient and peaceful.
I now finally wish to appeal to you, wherever you are, to participate fully today and Saturday in the Independence celebrations that have been organized throughout the country. There are, of course, those of you who have the duty to maintain essential services. These services must indeed be maintained so that the celebrations are facilitated. Maintaining such essential services during the celebrations is a significant contribution of their success. I wish to thank Her Majesty the Queen for having sent His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales to represent her and officiate at our Independence ceremony, where he will perform the symbolic act of severing our colonial ties with Britain.
As you are aware, this historic ceremony will be witnessed by Heads of State and Government and representatives of nearly 100 countries plus representatives of several international, political and voluntary organizations. The ceremony will be also be reported and relayed to millions of people in the world by the mass media. May I enjoin you all to regard this solemn occasion with honour and dignity, and participate in the celebrations that follow it with jubilation. Let us rejoice over our independence and recognize in it the need to dedicate ourselves to national unity, peace and progress. I now wish to pay tribute to Lord Soames, our Governor, for the most important role he has played in successfully guiding this country to elections and independence. He was from the very onset given a difficult and most unenviable task. And yet he performed it with remarkable ability and overwhelming dignity.
I must admit that I was one of those who originally never trusted him, and yet I have now ended up not only implicitly trusting but fondly loving him as well. He is indeed a great man through whom it has been possible within a short period I have been Prime Minister, to organize substantial financial and technical aid from Britain and other countries. I am personally indebted to him for the advice he has constantly given me on the art of managing the affairs of Government.
I shall certainly be missing a good friend and counselor, and so will our independent Zimbabwe and all its people. I also wish to thank all our distinguished quests for the honour they have given us by coming to attend our Independence celebrations on behalf of their countries or organizations. Their presence in our country signifies a bond of solidarity and friendship between their countries or organizations and our country. Without the support they have given us towards our liberation, this day would never have come about.
Thanks, therefore, for all the material, political, diplomatic and moral support they have given us. Sons and daughters of Zimbabwe, I urge you to participate fully and jubilantly in our Independence celebrations and to ensure that all our visitors are well entertained and treated with utmost hospitality. I shall be one in spirit and love, in loyalty and commitment with you all. Forward with the Year of the People’s Power! Long live our Freedom! Long live our Sovereignty! Long live our Independence!
So a couple of months ago, I was interviewed by Deutsche Welle for their Africa Blog Report, here.
I didn’t mean to laugh, I swear.
Okay, so if you’ve been under a rock, you’ve missed that I published a book on Amazon.
Behind Enemy Lines and Other Stories is a free giveaway today on Amazon’s Kindle store. That means the electronic is yours for zero dollars, if you want it!
TITLE: Behind Enemy Lines and Other Stories
AUTHOR: Joe Ruzvidzo
PUBLICATION DATE: February 12, 2017
SOLD BY: Amazon Digital Services LLC
RETAIL PRICE: $4.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback
ISBN-10: 1520591853 | ISBN-13: 978-1520591858
PAGE COUNT: 136 pages (paperback) | PRINT LENGTH: 96 pages (ebook)
GENRES: Fiction, Short story collection
Behind Enemy Lines is a collection of stories about ordinary people and anti-heroes dragged into a search for meaning in their lives – whether it is a simple search for identity and love, or a bigger struggle for Africa’s political freedom.
The canvas of their actions, motivations and circumstances is a Zimbabwe of the past, present and future. Humorous, acerbic, funny and tragic, the stories cover the whole gamut of emotions.
A soldier navigates his way across hostile territory to a distant safe house; a freedom fighter searches the debris of a ruined city for evidence of a horrific crime; an ordinary boy is caught up in a bank robbery; and an activist journeys home for her ex-boyfriend’s funeral.
Ruzvidzo interweaves the past, present and future with a confidence often missing in a debutante, offering a uniquely compelling angle to the Zimbabwean experience.
Well, for one day only, it’s FREE. Yes, free. Well, the electronic version, that is.
So if you want a free Kindle book, go here and get it.
Or, you know … buy the paperback.