Zimbo makes history

HARARE International academic publishers, Peter Lang, recently released a new book by Zimbabwean-born Blessing-Miles Tendi entitled Making History in Mugabes Zimbabwe. The book traces the role of politicians and public intellectuals in media, civil society and the academy in producing and disseminating a politically usable historical narrative concerning ideas about patriotism, race, land, human rights and sovereignty.

Tendi conducted a lot of interviews in which Zimbabwean politicians, intellectuals, historians and readers talk to him, and through him to each other. According to Terence Ranger, Emeritus Rhodes Professor of Race Relations at the University of Oxford, the book is a very rare thing.

This is a study of African politics which is about ideas. Its contemporary relevance can hardly be doubted at a moment when the intellectual architects of Patriotic History are accusing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of extreme ritual violence because he played golf rather than attending a National Heroes Acre funeral ceremony for a patriot (Misheck Chando) who had been a member of the Fifth Brigade, which massacred up to 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early 1980s Gukurahundi.

Blessing-Miles Tendis book, with its focus on history making, is by far the best guide to the contested arena in which this new history makes its appearance and will struggle to be heard or read.

Blessing-Miles Tendi (D.Phil.) was educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. He is a United Kingdom-based researcher in African politics.

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