“There were lots of ways to lose your farm. In the beginning it was mostly violent. Now, though, the process had become highly formal, and in many ways more chilling. Ordinary citizens who supported the ruling party and claimed they wanted to farm simply applied to the Registrar of Deeds for a farm and, if approved, got what was called an offer letter. This applicant, known as an A2 farmer, simply drove onto the farm he had been allocated, handed his letter to the farmer if he was still on the land, and told him he was the new owner. “It’s like winning the lottery, except you don’t even have to buy a ticket,” Dad told me.”
“Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans had starved to death or died of disease under Robert Mugabe; the more incredible story was how so many millions managed to survive. They refused to become victims.”
“It was happening again: everyone wanted their story told.”
“My father couldn’t believe what the soldier was telling him in that phone call: “Come on, Walter, what do you mean they’re diamond dealers?” “Mr. Rogers, let me be certain: our town is overrun! There are thousands! I have arrested many! Some are drunk, and when I ask from where they are coming they all say that secret place, that place in the bush where they have beer, that place they call Drifters!” Dad felt a flush of outlaw pride—followed by something approximating panic. The last thing he needed was Walter and his CIO comrades raiding his lodge. But Walter must have sensed his concern. “Don’t worry, Mr. Rogers,” he said quietly, conspiratorially. “I instruct them to keep very quiet about your place. Very quiet …” He pressed a finger to his lips. It wasn’t hard to meet a diamond dealer at Drifters. You just had to walk into the bar. I”
“We’ve killed twelve hundred, we’re going to win the war! We’ve killed twelve hundred, we’re going to win the war!” I was nine years old. I”
“Inflation had spun out of control as a direct result of the land invasions. In breaking its own laws and dispossessing its own citizens, the state not only destroyed the sector of the economy that provided 50 percent of its foreign revenue, but it also frightened away foreign investors. Without foreign currency to pay its bills, the government simply started printing money. Then more money. And still more. Once they started, they couldn’t stop; it became an addiction.”
“They had held power for more than twenty-six years, they controlled every aspect of the state to the extent that you couldn’t openly say what you thought, and yet someone else was always to blame. Belligerent victimhood is a mark of tyranny, an ugly and dangerous thing to behold.”
“Belligerent victimhood is a mark of tyranny, an ugly and dangerous thing to behold. The”
“Now Mugabe has a policy to ‘look east.’ To look to the Chinese to invest in us. What is a Chinese going to understand about Africa? It will take another hundred years! Mugabe’s policies are denial. The base of the Zimbabwean economy is Western investment for over one hundred years since colonialism. The fabric of this economy is investment.”
“What did we do before candles?” went the local joke. “Electricity.” The joke became dated fast, because soon shops ran out of candles. My”
“It is one of the strange discoveries a man makes that life, however you lead it, contains moments of exhilaration; there are always comparisons which can be made with worse times: even in danger and misery the pendulum swings. —GRAHAM GREENE, The Power and the Glory”
“You want to know the real reason for the invasions?” said Hammy, taking a deep drag on his cigarette. “The government had run the economy so badly into the ground that they needed a distraction for all the people without jobs.”
“he’d bought his farm in 1985 after attending a meeting the president called to ask white farmers to stay in the country. Incredibly, it is estimated that by 2000, 76 percent of white-owned farms had in fact been purchased after independence, and it became illegal after 1987 for anyone to sell a farm without first offering it to the government.”
“Commercial farming makes up only twenty-eight percent of this country’s land. But there’s a black farmers’ union that represent six percent of that. The Development Trust, which is government, has three percent. There are black tenant farmers with four percent. And Forestry has one percent. That leaves whites with about fourteen percent of the country’s land. Doesn’t sound the same as seventy percent, does it? And that fourteen percent produced about sixty-five percent of all agricultural produce and fifty percent of foreign earnings, and employed or supported almost two million people. But all you ever heard about was us greedy white farmers.” Everyone”
“A freight train of anger and she doesn’t even have a clue that I’m her fucking fuel.”
“From the late 1940s through the early ’60s, the Arab world had disgorged its Jews. Just as it had rescued us Yemenites, Israel rescued whole communities, flying myriad secret and perilous missions into the heart of Arabia.”
“Ah, Joori--couldn't live with him, couldn't chop him up for stew.”
“because the cigarette or spliff was an indispensable technology, a substitute for speech in social situations, a way to occupy the mouth and hands when alone, a deep breathing technique that rendered exhalation material, a way to measure and/or pass the time. More important than the easily satisfiable addiction, what the little cylinders provided me was a prefabricated motivation and transition, a way to approach or depart from a group of people or a topic, enter or exit a room, conjoin or punctuate a sentence. The hardest part of quitting would be the loss of narrative function; it would be like removing telephones or newspapers from the movies of Hollywood’s Golden Age; there would be no possible link between scenes, no way to circulate information or close distance, and when I imagined quitting smoking, I imagined “settling down,” not because I associated quitting with a more mature self-care, but because I couldn’t imagine moving through an array of social spaces without the cigarette as bridge or exit strategy.”
“There was some violence a year ago. An important kid got shot during an attempted kidnapping while on spring break in Mexico. The Fortune 500 went security crazy. Now rich kids like Jack need a commando team to take a dump.”
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