By noon this morning I was finished Peter Godwin’s book, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun.
I had been reading it in drips and drabs and so this morning I simply parked myself on our newly purchased wicker couch (so new the cushion covers hadn’t yet arrived) and didn’t get up again until the end of the book.
There’s a point near the end of the tale, when Godwin has taken his aging parents out for a night fine dining in one of the few fine places left in Harare that he roughly labels a pair of tourists sitting one table over. Talking freely and innocently taking in the ambience and air of luxury in Harare, Godwin writes that for tourists so barely scraping the surface of the country—enjoying exotic delights, foregoing on the pitiful politics—Zim must seem a marvel. He of course knows that this fairy tale is far from the truth.
This side-story of Godwin’s cut me. Living in Zambia, Zim’s northern neighbour, and having taken my Canadian parents to Bulawayo for Christmas ’09, I do have pleasant memories Godwin’s home country. Perhaps they are too pleasant. I know and work with middle-class Zimbabwean diaspora who don’t mince words about the troubles back home. I’ve spoken to the ladies in the Livingstone markets in from Zimbabwe hoping Zambia (which in its own ways is weighed down with poverty) to be a more promising place to make a living. Yet to me Zimbabwe still holds an enduring and alluring romance.
Thulasy and I are going to meet our friend and artist, Mac McArthur, in Harare in two weeks time. He’ll be both exhibiting and enjoying a vibrant Harare arts scene centered around the local artistic home base know as the Book Café.
It’ll be a chance to rub off some of the shine off my over-lustrous view of Harare. In the time before we leave, I chosen a second and the most recent of Godwin’s books—The Fear: the Last Days of Robert Mugabe.