Attacking the silence

For Democracy and Media Freedom in Zimbabwe in June, the Peter Weiss Foundation for Art and Politics started an appeal for a worldwide reading, to be held on September 9 against the regime of Robert Mugabe and the silence surrounding the crimes committed in Zimbabwe.
So far, 170 autho

rs from 56 countries have signed the appeal. Among the latest signatories are well-known writers such as Margaret Atwood, Alessandro Baricco, John M. Coetzee, Don DeLillo, Jon Fosse, Nadine Gordimer, Günter Grass, Nick Hornby, Ko Un and John Updike.
The reading, to take place in Berlin during the 7th international literature festival, aims to draw attention to the plight of Zimbabwe which, the organisers say, has been “concealed long enough unfortunately also by members of the political class in South Africa, which shoulders a special responsibility in this matter”.
They say they want to attack the silence, the result of which is a false sense of solidarity and one of the bases of Mugabe’s power:
“Only a decade ago Zimbabwe had been one of the richest and most developed countries in Africa, with the highest educational standards on the continent and a literacy rate of almost 85%. Over recent years Mugabe has led his country to economic collapse and his people into bitter poverty. Officially, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate is 3700%, the highest in the world. The unemployment rate is 80%. With an average life expectancy of 34 years for women and 37 years for men, Zimbabwe has become the country with the lowest life expectancy in the world.”
The organisers have appealed to radio stations, schools, universities, theatres and other cultural institutions in Africa and all over the world to attack the silence by reading poems by Chenjerai Hove, Chirikuré Chirikuré and Dumbudzo Marechara, as well as Elinor Sisulu’s foreword written for the book “Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe: A Report on the Disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands 1980-1988” (Johannesburg 2007).
Everybody is authorised to use the texts and poems in readings and performances as all the rights lay open on September 9, 2007. They are available on – For more info contact: [email protected]

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