Monday, April 18, 2011

Peter Godwin

Part of a Q &A between the Christian Science Monitor's Randy Dotinga and Peter Godwin about the latter's new book, The Fear:

Q. You visit hospitals and talk to many victims of the Mugabe regime's political violence who had no way to fight back against gangs of men. This is in sharp contrast to, say, Libya, where rebels at least have some weapons. Do you think of the Zimbabwe victims as helpless?

Rather than the word "helpless," I might choose the word "vulnerable." They tried to make their voices heard and were very exposed and vulnerable. They couldn't fight back and didn't fight back. They didn't have weapons.

These are such important voices: they sort of shame us in a way, these people across the social, economic, and education spectrum. These are people who are sacrificing, ordinary people putting their heads above the political parapet for the first time. Many of them are not die-hard political activists for years and years. They're just ordinary folks who said it was enough.

Right from the beginning, they've made it clear that they are peaceful. They take pages from Gandhi and Martin Luther King. They've pretty much stayed to that, but when Mugabe turns on them and unleashes this furious violence, they are very vulnerable.

That seems to make them less deserving of international help. The message these Zimbabweans take away is that if you want the rest of the world to come to your aid, you have to start a civil war.

Q. Is there anything uplifting to be found in your book, which describes a devastated country?

When I went to Zimbabwe in 2008 and again in 2009, the people I met and their stories were so compelling that I actually find that I came away inspired. Once I'd spoken to those people, it never occurred to me not to write a book. I have to do everything to amplify their voices.

I felt it was...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue