What are they reading?

The Daily News on Sunday’s Assistant Editor Maxwell Sibanda caught up with different personalities to find out what books they are reading or they have finished reading.


Writer Virginia Phiri

I am reading Visionary Africa the English version in which I was commissioned to portray Prof Wangari Maathai the first Black Woman Nobel Prize winner. In the same book are the likes of Kwame Norma, Mariama Aba, Patrice Lumumba, Oliver Thambo, Almicah Cabral, Angeline Kamba and many others. 

The book has just been published. The German version was published in 2014. My own book Grey Angels is also out.


Political analyst Piers Pigou

I am reading Untangled by Lisa Damour; guiding teenage girls through the seven transitions into adulthood; also Spies in the Congo by Susan Williams.


Politician and lawyer Obert Gutu

Currently, I’m reading Che Guevara a Biography written by Richard L Harris. Che Guevara, according to Time magazine was one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. The revolutionary, anti-imperialist ideals he lived and died for now appeal to a new generation of 21st century men and women. 

Reading this book has re-activated and re-ignited the Pan-Africanist in me. I now fully appreciate the evil and subtle machinations of neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism on the global political and socio-economic architecture.


Filmmaker Elton Mjanana

I have been reading Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. It is a biographical account of his birth to a black mother and a white father during Apartheid South Africa. 

He is very vivid in his account and shows real love and admiration for his mother who is clearly his hero in his life and played a huge part in his success so far in his life in general and career in particular. The book is a very funny and light read — true to Trevor’s witty ability to laugh at himself and his circumstances through his medium of comedy.


Poet Barbra Breeze

I have been reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. It is a book that blends Japanese mythology into present day reality. The book documents the experiences of one runaway boy named Kafka who goes in search of his mother and sister and an old man who has the ability to talk to cats. Prone to the writer’s nature, reality and dreams are hard to tell apart in this book and his characters find themselves on a journey to rediscover who they are and where they belong.


PR practitioner Munya Simango

I am reading The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a 2007 book by the Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein. 

In the book, Klein argues that neoliberal free market policies (as advocated by the economist Milton Friedman) have risen to prominence in some developed countries because of a deliberate strategy of “shock therapy”. This centres on the exploitation of national crises to push through controversial policies while citizens are too emotionally and physically distracted by disasters or upheavals to mount an effective resistance.

The book suggests that some man-made events such as the Iraq War were undertaken with the intention of pushing through such unpopular policies in their wake. In the book, Klein argues that austerity or Esap is not a pro-poor policy in that it impoverishes them further. 

Remember how Zimbabwe suffered after the introduction of Esap? In fact the country never recovered from that experiment; and yet now the current government has announced part 2 of the deadly programme.


Journalist Tawanda Mudzonga

I just finished reading The Death of Rex Nhongo by CB George.


Media practitioner Tabani Moyo

I’m reading Dang Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. The book was written by Ezra Vogel. No one in the twentieth century had a greater impact on world history than Deng Xiaoping. 

And no scholar is better qualified than Ezra Vogel to disentangle the contradictions embodied in the life and legacy of China’s boldest strategist--the pragmatic, disciplined force behind China’s radical economic, technological, and social transformation. Vogel, a Harvard professor who has bounced between interests in China and Japan for all of his professional life, picked one man on whom to centre his tale: Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997), the communist leader who left the Sichuan countryside for France when he was 16. 

While Deng might have been tiny (he stood 4-foot-11), this book is massive, Yao Ming-big — the text alone runs to 714 pages. His main argument is that Deng deserves a central place in the pantheon of 20th-century leaders. For he not only launched China’s market-oriented economic reforms but also accomplished something that had eluded Chinese leaders for almost two centuries: the transformation of the world’s oldest civilisation into a modern nation. The book outlines in refined detail how visionary leadership has the power to build enduring and transformational ideas.


Social analyst Rashweat Mukundu

I am reading Claude Ake’s The feasibility of democracy in Africa. Ake explores the challenges of democracy on post-colonial Africa and posits that Africa needs a second liberation or independence from reactionary post-colonial governments that have simply appropriated the same powers as the colonial governments and fail to meet the aspirations of the majority. 

He argues that democracy has been trivialised into electoral rituals which those in power abuse to legitimise this stay on power.


Social analyst Lenox Mlanga

I have just finished reading Bob Marley The Untold Story by Chris Salewicz. It’s a definitive account of the late great king of reggae. The book, based on the time the writer spent time with the singer and interviews with people surrounding him, fills in a lot of gaps about one of the Third World’s greatest heroes. 

It also throws light on the lives of other great reggae artists and producers of the time, and shows how influential Bob Marley was to the genre, much more than people realise. I am now reading an all-time classic of African History, a biography of Shaka Zulu, founder of the Zulu nation by E A Ritter who grew up in Zululand. First published in 1955, I browsed through this book when reading for my History degree at the University of Zimbabwe in 1985. 

It’s a detailed biography that blows apart a succession of myths about Shaka, Mzilikazi KaMashobane Khumalo, Zwangendaba kaZiguda Jele Gumbi and Soshangane KaZikode Nxumalo. It a detailed treatise by the son of a former Native Commissioner of Zululand, whose first language was Zulu and had the privilege of recording the history from Njengabantu Ema-Bomvini whose father, Mahola was one of Shaka’s fellow soldiers in Dingiswayo’s Izi-Ncwe Regiment.

Mahola had handed down to his son, who was head native court orderly, a wealth of detail about Shaka. He had other sources, both white and Zulu who were close to the famous exploits of one of the greatest empire builders and military tacticians in Africa. 

I am reading the book as I assist artist and poet Albert Nyathi in the production of an epic musical based on the life of Mzilikazi.

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