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.