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Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa Paperback – November 30, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Peter Godwin grew up in Rhodesia during the end of white rule. While his Rhodesians Never Die is a historical account of that time, Mukiwa is a more personal narrative--a testament to Africa and a memoir as seen through the eyes of a child becoming a young man amidst civil war. Spanning 1964-1982, from when Godwin was a boy of six in Rhodesia to when he returned to Zimbabwe as a journalist covering the bloody transition back to black rule, Godwin personalizes a difficult era in South African history with clarity, intelligence, humor, empathy, and sharp prose. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

With humor, portent and melancholy, Godwin (Rhodesians Never Die) recreates his 1960s youth in white Rhodesia. The son of relatively liberal whites, Godwin, through family servants, gained a sense of black African culture, language and religion. His mother, a doctor, helped African women with contraception; Godwin, in one of his wistful flash-forwards, observes that after the country became Zimbabwe, the government saw family planning as racist-but women in this still patriarchal society mutinied. He describes his strange private school-"racial enlightenment within a system of extreme conservatism"-and how he learned, in a job at his father's mine, that he fit in neither with racially unquestioning whites nor with restive blacks. As a policeman sworn to defend his renegade homeland against black guerrillas seeking independence, Godwin found himself pained by guerrilla cruelties to civilians, but shamed by his own role in arresting local leaders. Godwin soon concluded that a black victory was inevitable, and escaped the deepening war for studies in England, trailed by bad dreams. When he returned three years later as a lawyer and journalist, he experienced some peace-a black soldier he met absolved him offhandedly. However, his efforts to uncover the new government's human rights abuses led him to be declared an enemy of the state.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802141927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802141927
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Godwin is an award winning author and journalist. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, he studied law and international relations at Cambridge and Oxford. He worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa and Eastern Europe for The Sunday Times of London. He was founding presenter and writer of Assignment/Correspondent, BBC TV's premier foreign affairs program. He now lives in Manhattan and contributes regularly to National Geographic, New York Times magazine, and BBC Radio, among others.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Gillian A on November 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Mukiwa' opens with a six year old boy describing what he sees of a local murder. So begins this enthralling memoir. This saga of a youth growing up in troubled Zimbabwe (Rhodesia at that time), is divided into three parts.

Book I, which comprises half of the book, is seen through the eyes of a child and told in that voice. As such it is reminiscent of 'Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight' by Alexandra Fuller. Both authors grew up in the eastern highlands of Rhodesia, near Umtali and the Mozambique border. One is a boy's story, the other a girl's and the differences are largely stylistic. They were separated by about ten years and 'Dogs' focuses only on one family, with the bush war only in the background, whereas 'Mukiwa' gives a broader picture of life in the remote, often dangerous, areas of the country. A preschool boy accompanies his mother, a doctor, to various bush clinics where she is both GP and pathologist. Before long he can recognize not only dead bodies, but also malaria, TB, leprosy and other ailments. In this lonely place he forms close relationships with the various African staff and describes the harshness of their life there as well as the miseries of boarding school for a young child.

In Book II, the author's hopes dashed that he cannot leave the country to attend university because of the compulsory conscription policy, finds himself in the midst of a brutal guerrilla war. His job is made harder by his ambivalent feelings as he frequently sympathizes with the `terrorists'. He leaves finally only when defeat is conceded.

In Book III he returns to the country, now with a law degree from Cambridge. Joining a distinguished firm in the capital, he is put to work defending prominent, former `freedom fighters' of the Matabele tribe.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Hoover on February 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Even though Mr. Godwin is the consumate ex-pat, he will never be anything but a Mukiwa/Zimbabwean in his heart. In an age of pervasive political correctness (pc), it it so very refreshing to read a book that speaks from the head and heart with equal patronage, distilling all the pc off the top, and assigning it to the literary land fill where it belongs. Mr. Godwin is right on point with regard to the Mugabe pc, as evidenced by the
tactics that Mugabe and his hencemen are employing as I write this, in the current 2002 election campaign. Fraud is fraud, black or white, and Mr. Godwin illustrates this point so well.
Further, he exposes the good and bad of european rule, examines the concept of duty, and handles the affairs of his family with honor and love. This book is for all people, all races, all time.
And in the ultimate salute, Mr. Godwin is kind of person who I would love to share a pint with, and have a good chat up. Well done Sir.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
This outstanding book will conjure up vivid memories of both people and places for anyone who has ever been to Zimbabwe. As with any great piece of writing (and there is no doubt that this is one) it also peeled back the surface of the country and showed things that were not readily visible, even though they were only just beneath the skin.
One of the books many strengths is that it works on so many levels; as a story of Africa, of childhood, of colonialism and the end of Empire, as a war memoir and a study of inhumanity. The threads of each aspect wind around each other to produce a story as colourful, complex and mysterious as Africa itself.
The tales of Peter Godwin's childhood are by turns funny, poignant and suffused with the warmth of Africa and its people. By contrast, the description of the "war years" matches the very best writings on Viet Nam (David Donovan's execllent "Once a Warrior King" is an interesting counter-point from that war)and, without sensationalism or dramatisation, fully conveys the banality and brutality of "bush fire wars". The final, post-war, section is deeply moving and provides a gruelling illustration of ethnic conflict.
Although this is an important book with a powerful message, the author tells his story with a lightness of touch that never allows language to obstruct the narrative. I have not had the slighest hesitation in recommending "Mukiwa" to anyone, whether or not they are interested in Africa. There is much here to satisfy any reader but this outstanding book should be required reading for anyone who has ever been to Zimbabwe or ever plans to go there.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Chris Kreft on February 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Wow! As a reader from Zimbabwe myself, I found Mukiwa one of the most familiar books I've ever read. In the space of 40 years, much has changed in my beloved country, yet much has not. St. Georges is a very old school which still stands today. When in gameparks and even in rural parts of the country, one often has to face the dangers listed by Godwin, from Bilharzia to crocodiles.
I have always wanted a book to give to my foreign friends and relatives, relating a true impression of Africa, and I'd recommend this book in a heartbeat. It gives such vivid impressions of life in Africa, I can hardly do them justice - you'll just have to read the book yourself. The only problem with the book is that it portrays much of the country as "mud-hut" territory, which it is not. The cities of Zimbabwe remain fairly up-to-date, with the ability of experiencing the wild side of the former Rhodesia. I don't recall if the book mentions it, but Peter Godwin's younger sister, Georgina, is a popular radio dj! Many facts such as this are so vividly familiar to my mind, that this book spelled out a great panoramic view of my country, and to anyone vaguely interested in Zimbabwe (formerly known as Southern Rhodesia), I strongly recommend this book - the parallels are amazingly accurate.
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