I MUST be one of the first people who grabbed a copy of Geoff Nyarota’s book after its publication a few weeks ago, partly because he had been flaunting it several times in the Fingaz.
Having finished reading the bo
ok, Against the Grain: Memoirs of a Zimbabwean Journalist, I must admit I’m not disappointed, though not excited either.
I’m not disappointed because the book is a useful general reference book for the history of post-colonial Zimbabwe (albeit told from a personalised view). I enjoyed Nyarota’s sharp recollection of events before and after Independence, his experiences with the late Canaan Banana, the Chronicle, Willogate (of course!), the Financial Gazette and the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe.
However, the book is hardly the earth-shattering read Nyarota publicly made us believe. Outside a few personal anecdotes, the book tells the ordinary story everyone who has followed post-colonial Zimbabwe knows.
What I find a little careless for a senior journalist like him are several silly mistakes. For example, he writes wrongly that Charles Chikerema died in 1997 (Page 319), that Eddison Zvobgo died in 2003 (202) and that Joshua Nkomo died in 1998 (288) — not to mention that he studied at Fort Hare!
The book also wrongly asserts that Chen Chimutengwende lost the 2000 election (316). He contradicts himself when he states that as editor of the Fingaz, he had “asked (Trevor) Ncube to find out if Moyo would consider writing a regular column under his name” (224), and only later writes that: “When I became editor of the Financial Gazette in 1990, my deputy, Trevor Ncube, recommended that we commission a regular column from (Jonathan) Moyo” (316).
There are a few other such mistakes and inconsistencies which Nyarota could have avoided by doing a thorough homework, or perhaps penning a shorter, tighter script.
Nevertheless, I find the book useful as a reference tool for not just the politics of the media but also of the country.
(The pages cited are based on the 2006 edition published by Zebra Press, Cape Town.)
Rob C Moyana,