Local Name: Zimbabwe (derived from the Shona phrase Dzimba Dza Mabwe, meaning “houses of stone”)
- Originally named Southern Rhodesia by the British in 1895; the area was a British colony until 1964.
- Known as Rhodesia from 1965-1979 (as an unrecognized state) after the white minority government declared independence from the United Kingdom (the British continued to refer to the land as “Southern Rhodesia”).
- Temporarily called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia from June 1, 1979 until December 12, 1979. During this time, the white minority government was replaced by a biracial one.
- Became Southern Rhodesia once again, when control was briefly returned to the United Kingdom.
- Internationally recognized as the Republic of Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980.
Title: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
Author: Alexandra Fuller (Anglo-African)
Published: 2001 Pages: 301
Acclaim: National Bestseller; Entertainment Weekly #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year; New York Times Notable Book; Finalist, Guardian First Book Prize
Time Period: 1968-1987, mostly during Rhodesia’s Second Chimurenga – the second civil war between the black majority population and the white minority leadership.
Summary: Fuller chronicles her chaotic,traumatic and inherently racist childhood on a Rhodesian farm in the midst of a civil war. After the war, her family loses their farm and Fuller recounts her family’s next moves to Zambia and then to Malawi.
My opinion: I loved it! Packed full of frequently hilarious and almost unbelievable tales of life in an African war zone, Fuller’s memoir is uncommonly forthright and raw in her descriptions of black-white relations and her family’s inner turmoil.
In my book (or, how Zimbabwe has affected me and maybe you, too)
Named after the Queen of England by the first white man to see them (David Livingston, in 1855), Victoria Falls was the first destination visited by contestants in the inaugural episode of The Amazing Race, my favorite reality TV show. The world’s largest sheet of falling water (5,406′ wide and 306′ tall in full flood) is formed by the Zambezi River on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The fall’s indigenous and much more poetic name is Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders).
The Boy Scouts made a huge impact on the life of a good friend of mine, who made it to the highest levels of Scoutdom – Eagle Scout and the Order of the Arrow – while meeting mentors who have turned into lifelong friends.
Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement, was a British army officer during Zimbabwe’s First Chimurenga in 1896. After promising a rebel leader that his life would be spared if he surrendered, Baden-Powell proceeded to have the man shot by firing squad. Ironically, Baden-Powell’s main Scouting credo was: Be trustworthy.
White people are being evicted from their farms by black people!
With the whites mostly gone, the blacks have turned Zimbabwe into a hot mess!
Gets your attention, doesn’t it? Discrimination gone topsy-turvy and then turned right-side up with a default racist conclusion usually does. This snippet of alarmist news was the only information I had about Zimbabwe before I read Fuller’s book. Here’s the scoop:
Longtime Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is one of the most notorious leaders in Africa, responsible for: election tampering, human rights violations, world-record hyperinflation leading to a defunct currency, media blackout and most famously: land reform.
Mugabe’s controversial land reform policy boils down to this vastly simplified summary:
- Since 2000, roughly 4,000 white farmers – whose productive farms had once earned Zimbabwe the nickname “the bread basket of Africa” – have been evicted from their property.
- These farms were gifted to poor blacks to make up for the land that was taken from them under British colonial rule, but the new owners were not given the knowledge, equipment or supplies to work the land and crop yields plummeted. Drought in some parts of the country and damaging rain in others have furthered agricultural losses.
- Zimbabweans are currently suffering food shortages and famine – more than two million need food.
Mugabe claims that economic sanctions are to blame for the food crisis.