Gappah: Today's Judas Iscariot


Such authors bark at and even bite their own people while wagging their tails and licking their masters’ boots, all for some "crumbs and bones."

Switzerland-based author Petina Gappah who launched her debut short anthology — An Elegy for Easterly — in the capital a couple of weeks ago, is one such example.

I thought that the country had finally given birth to a permanent replacement to the void that was created by the death of talented author Yvonne Vera some years ago, but reading her book, one could tell that such was not the case.

Our African sister has willingly sold her soul, words and country to her Western paymasters, all for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. Reading through the book, I could not help but equate her to the Biblical Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ because of greed. This diminished and marred the high-esteem that I previously had of her.

I was so shocked by how Gappah, who declares that she is so proud of her home, Zimbabwe, could dare make fun of the Head of State of this country, President Mugabe, whom she belittles, slanders and caricatures in the book like she would never again set her foot on homesoil?

The kind of writing that she exhibits in the book shows that she has voluntarily chosen to rebel against her own roots for she not only ‘laughs’ at President Mugabe but herself and us collectively as a nation.

To make matters worse, how could a lawyer of her calibre, with three law degrees, stoop so low by intentionally disregarding the issues of slander, libel and litigation?

Yes, she is a lawyer, but I think she badly needed the guidance and counselling of a lawyer herself before she even committed herself to the task of writing this book.

It is clear that her only mission in the book was to blacken the image of the President whom she lampoons together with many other national and public figures such as (imagine) the person of the late Mai Sally Mugabe.

This makes her book nauseous literary diarrhoea.

Poking fun at our dear late mother — who never harmed a fly but was famous for her heart of gold — was a repulsive act on the part of the author. Yes, speaking ill of the dead is so unbecoming to our African culture and mores — which Petina has clearly discarded, as she shows in her book.

In fact, in as much as she might try to run away from this fact by stating in one of the introductory pages that "the reference to real people, events, places, establishments and organisations are used fictitiously," it is clear from reading it that her characters, places and events are most of the public and national figures, events and places that almost every citizen of Zimbabwe knows.

For example, at the Sound of the Last Post, the opening story, Petina makes mention of the President famous for his anti-Imperialist speeches. To everyone in the know, there is no other Head of State or an African Statesman who had such speeches except His Excellency President Mugabe.

How can she run away from her words in the same story when she attributes these words to the President in a mocking, belittling and caricaturing tone: "I say to Blair and to Bush that this country will never, a trillion trillion times never, be a colony again"?

The hogwash that she infuses into the book is just too much to mention in this review.

And what all this reveals about the author is that she is a running dog and a mouthpiece of her Western paymasters who delight in seeing Africans poking fun at their national leaders, and in the same vein turning themselves into fools whom the West make laugh and jeer as they disrobe themselves in the full view of the world.