Monday, 8 June 2009

Shut Up and Read First!

The crowd at the Herald needs to calm down. One of the scribes, Richmore Tera, read Petina Gappah’s book. He did not like what was in it. Like respondent Masimba said on Petina’s blog entry, the scribes at the "Ministry of Truth" had been shouting and hollering about Petina's book without having read it. Now that they have read the book, they are raising Cain from the dead. What were they expecting?

Anyone who has followed Petina's opinion editorials on The Zimbabwe Times will not be surprised to learn that she lampoons the Zimbabwean oligarchy in her book. When she decided to write a book, did anyone think she had suddenly had an epiphany like Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus? To quote Masimba, again, the Zimbabwean oligarchy better brace itself for a torrent of bitter truth, if they somehow think of fiction as truth. If what Petina writes about has a ring of truth to it, I would not be surprised. Like Petina, we are all President Mugabe's children. We have known him to speak his mind. Some behavioural traits are acquired, you know. As the saying goes, like father like children or something along those lines - mbudzi kudya mufenje hufana nyina. It is not a crime, is it?

I hope this is also a big lesson for Zimbabweans, especially in the literary circle. Instead of yammering about books without reading them, one or two bloggers have been guilty of this - why not wait for a copy first? To borrow from Sigauke’s sagacious admonishment, shut up and read first! There are some writers who have given free copies to potential reviewers – what the recipients do with the books is another story altogether. Richmore Tera could have asked for a copy prior to accepting Petina's invitation, that way he would have known what he was dealing with from the get go. What we have now is the reverse of Mark Anthony’s elegy for Julius Caesar – pan intended. Richmore came to praise Petina but ended up attempting to bury her, metaphorically speaking. Zvino Ishe Tera vakazokorwa nemhanga yemahara pedzisire vowonekwa semunhu asina maturo.

I have not read Petina's book since I have been grappling with work assignments and have a deadline to meet. As soon as I have enough breathing room, I will read it and find out for myself what all the noise is all about. I will write a review, assuming I would have won my war against snails and pigeons by then.