THIS FINE AND timely book reminded me of Shiva Naipaul's North of South. 'Hopeless, doomed continent! Onlv lies flourished here,' Naivaul exclaims at the close of his travels. 'Africa was swadhed in lies - the lies of an aborted European civilization; the lies of liberation. Nothing but lies.' Christopher Hope is not far from coming~to the same conclusion while meditating on how Zimbabwe degenerated into its current mess. He excoriates the thugs, both black and white, who led the nation into the abyss. Extrapolating from what he finds in Zimbabwe, he produces an identikit portrait of tyranny, the big lie of dictatorship, to which he gives a universal face.
Hope begins his account by describing a ZANU-PF rally, addressed by Robert Mugabe himself, into which he has mistakenly stumbled. What makes the event extraordinary is that it takes place in Matabeleland, where memories of ~u~ab;'sg reatest crime, the extermination of between ten and twenty thousand civilians in the 1980s,