Palaver Finish

This theme is evident in *Heaven*, but the difference here is the directorial absence of Kieslowski, who died in 1996. Tom Twyker, who directs, made the pulsating Run, Lola, Run and handles pace, space and suspense superbly. Yet he can’t quite summon the emotional depth of Kieslowski’s direction, the focus on interior life – and the revelation that change is possible. The film veers away from the teacher’s acute grief and becomes plot-driven – an escape drama cum love story. Although the ending is a cinematic coup, this isn’t the film it might have been.

This is a slender work, more of a pamphlet than a book, which nevertheless packs a hefty punch. Chenjerai Hove is a Zimbabwean writer whose output has included novels, poems and essays. *Palaver Finish* brings together some 21 of his recent columns from the _Zimbabwe Standard_, one of the last newspapers to carry material critical of Robert Mugabe’s regime.

Hove’s incandescent anger and contempt for the lies and platitudes of the time-serving politicians, opposition as well as government, burns off the page. The squandered potential of Zimbabwe is crystallized in a heartbreaking essay of less than three pages entitled ‘Zimbabwe’s Lost Visions’ in which Hove excoriates the bad faith of a political élite intent only on self-enrichment as the infrastructure of the country crumbles and violence takes root at the heart of society.

There are words that recur in these pieces whose repetition beats out a rhythm of rage and despair while speaking of an alternative possible future: ‘culture’, ‘censorship’, ‘creativity’, ‘control’, ‘conscience’. For Hove the rulers of his country are thugs and vandals who have knowingly created a climate of fear in which each individual is beset with ‘mini states of emergency which reside in the heart’. This is an impassioned polemic from a writer agonizingly aware of the catastrophic path his country is taking and doing his utmost to alter that course.

mag cover This article is from the September 2002 issue of New Internationalist. You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Get a free trial now »

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