Zimbabwe is an astonishing but troubled country, which has led to some great books about it. It came into being in 1980 after a bloody struggle—the chimurenga or liberation—against the white government of Ian Smith, in what was the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia. The hero of liberation, Robert Mugabe, went on to rule Zimbabwe for nearly four decades, until his death at the age of 95. Initially hailed for his moderation and pragmatic approach to the economy, it gradually became clear that he was overseeing some terrible crimes, including the massacre of thousands of Zimbabweans from the Ndebele minority in the south of the country in the mid-1980s. His economic stewardship also declined over the years and Mugabe became increasingly associated with corruption and abysmal mismanagement of the economy.
Tsitsi Dangarembga was the first Zimbabwean woman published in English. Her book, Nervous Conditions, a bildungsroman which came out in the first decade after Zimbabwe became independent, is recommended reading. More recently, Glory by Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo has been shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize.
We've had several Zimbabwean novelists recommending books on Five Books, including Tendai Huchu with best historical fiction and Blessing Musariri with best African novels. Margaret Darawanda, an Akashinga ranger in the Lower Zambezi Valley recommended wild animal books for kids.
Via five engrossing memoirs, the Zimbabwe-born journalist Georgina Godwin talks wistfully about her country; amongst the older generation, she says, there is a feeling that Rhodesia was sold down the river by Britain and things needn’t have turned out the way they did.