AFRICANGLOBE – A Fine Madness is a book that intertwines Zimbabwe’s anti-imperialist struggles for autonomy through highlighting epitaphs of the war of liberation and the country’s incursions in the Democratic Republic of Congo conflict. Part prose and part poetic, the book comes out as a continuum narrative of the struggles undertaken by Zimbabwe in its trajectory to assert notjust its own independence but that of other African countries.
A Fine Madness is very unapologetic in its narration of the sticking issues inhibiting Africa’s ultimate freedom and very direct in its identification of the enemy.
Although the author did not partake in the war of liberation, he was part of Zimbabwe’s troops who along with troops from Namibia and Angola aided the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government in wadding off rebels that were being aided by Rwanda and Uganda.
Gomo’s narrative of the war is such a compelling account given the fact that he was an air force of Zimbabwe pilot whose experience in the battlefield visually paints a tapestry of the heinous images whose authenticity is lacerated by an authentic voice coming from an observant soldier whom through which we experience the harrowing nature of war. His experience of the war clearly sets his narrative in a league of its own as the author battles with Africa’s struggle to assert both its political and economic independence.
In other words, Gomo’s narrative is an important cog in the writing back to empire project, where he deconstructs all the colonial hegemonic narrative that sought to interpret an African experience from a Eurocentric worldview.
Gomo’s rage is not just directed at the imperialists continued interference in the African affairs but also targets fellow Africans who have exacerbated African suffering by being willing conduits of continued exploitation of the continent’s resources.
As illustrated in the Chapter- The Rape-: “And the rapists were providing huge sums of money as prenatal aid to nurture the unwanted pregnancy to a healthy delivery of their bastard offspring that would inherit Africa and hand it back to them.” A Fine Madness is a poignant reminder of the physical and psychological devastating effects of war.
The issues in this book point not just to the human cost of war but how such wars have turned the continent’s inhabitants into perpetual beggars in a land of plenty.
African luminary in the anti-imperialist discourse, Kenyan Ngugi waThiongo describes the book as a collage of verse and prose narratives, memories, images, thoughts and characters against a background of the 1998 Congo war which came about after the death of Mobutu Sese Seko and later Laurent Kabila who was seen as a Lumumbaist.
“The poet-narrator would seem to be part of the Zimbabwean forces operating from and around Boende, in the Congo. From the air and on the ground he is able to observe and contemplate on the chaos in the Congo.”
As a continuum of the anti-imperialist struggles, Ngugi asserts that the narrator’s observations interact with his thoughts and remembrance of Zimbabwe’s history of anti-colonial resistance and fight for land, from the First Chimurenga inspired by Mbuya Nehanda to the current land politics in Zimbabwe. Mbuya Nehanda becomes a symbol of African resistance of the colonial horror brought by the likes of King Leopold of Belgium and Cecil Rhodes of Southern Rhodesia.
“But this is not a narrative of history. The actual historical figures are not mentioned. These events tangential to the torrents of images that are conjured up by the author’s imagination,” says Ngugi in his foreword to the book.
Indeed, the author’s imagination is illuminated through the figure of Tinyarei whose enthralling beauty is in a wider reference Zimbabwe, Africa and the Black World. The themes that run through in the book are the loneliness of war, the horror of war and the beauty of resistance.
Every reader will tend to agree with Memory Chirere’s view that A Fine Madness is a charmed, mad and maddening prose poetry in which an armed man snoops into Africa’s history of deprivation and strife to do the painful arithmetic.
Chirere concurs with Ngugi waThiongo on the aspect of Tinyarei being a broader reference to Zimbabwe, Africa and the Black World as the author reflects on the situation back home in Zimbabwe.
By: Lovemore Ranga Mataire