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Mutambara’s new book an inspiring read

ARTHUR Mutambara’s In Search of the Elusive Zimbabwean Dream: An Autobiography of Thought Leadership, Vol 1.

Ibbo Mandaza

Sapes Books, to be launched in Harare on June 14 2017 is a most welcome addition to the Sapes Books’ stable of illustratious autobiographies/biographies: Elijah Mudenda (Zambia: A Generation of Struggle, 1999); Joshua Nkomo (The Story of My Life, 2001) and Edgar Tekere (A Lifetime of Struggle, 2006); and, forthcoming, in addition to Arthur Mutambara’s 3 Volumes, a biography of another liberation stalwart, Moton Malianga: Zimbabwe’s Unsung Liberation Hero (August 2017), by Fred Zindi.


Arthur Mutambara’s work represents a very unusual but engaging autobiography, reflecting as it does enormous diligence and painstaking detail, in the form of 3 Volumes which precede the autobiography proper in the not-too-distant future.

So, this Volume 1 covers The Formative Years and the Big Wide World (1983-2002). In his own words, in the Preface; “This series is a collection of three volumes of grounded reflections that I expressed over time, as I endeavoured to move, lead and inspire people.

These reflections were informed by research, observation and experiences. The trilogy records my initiatives that sought to turn strategic thinking into reality through the speed of execution.

The work is ostensibly documentation of my participation in, and contributions to, thought leadership – “intellectual influence through innovative and pioneering thinking” (His emphasis).

This Volume, in turn, consists of three sections: “A Naive but Vigorous Young Mind; No to the One-Party State! Yes to Socialism” and Out into the Big Wide World. Each of the sections is introduced through a preface which explains the “context, circumstances and issues”, and thereby affording a useful guide to the reader, as the autobiography unfolds.

The young and “naive” student at Hartzelll High School, immersed in the “uncritical and romantic view of Zimbabwe’s National liberation Struggle” but also a brilliant and outstanding young man, a genius no doubt: 8 distinctions (A grades) in the Cambridge Ordinary Level Examinations in 1984; again, in 1986, top student in all five advanced level subjects of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and General Paper; and so, from the very onset, we have in Arthur Mutambara one of the best intellects of Zimbabwe and beyond. But young Arthur is already developing a commendable social consciousness, with an avid appetite for political and international affairs, a leader in the making.

Not surprising he is not only—and predictably—an outstanding student at the University of Zimbabwe (1987-1991) where he studied for a BSc degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering; but also a student leader of note. Besides, these were the heady days in Zimbabwean politics.

The glamour of independence had waned and, likewise, its fruits were depleting fast. As such, student unrest is often a symptom of the times and the University of Zimbabwe was no exception under the leadership of the likes of Mutambara who served as secretary-general of the Students’ Union in 1988 and as its president in 1989.

These were the student days that heralded the emergence of opposition politics in Zimbabwe, along with the kind of thought leaders like Mutambara himself , Tendai Biti, Lovemore Madhuku, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Thoko Matshe and Brian Kagoro; to name but a few of a generation that ought to have been at the helm of leadership in Zimbabwe.

Interestingly, the volume contains photographs that, inter alia, speak to the authors’ academic achievements at the University of Zimbabwe, while flaunting many of such of his contemporaries in those days.

This includes a photograph of author and Chancellor at UZ graduation day, 12 July 1991, “after an attempt to refuse to kneel down” as President Mugabe was capping him. Likewise Section Three is well embellished with photographs that tell the story of the man, his times and his associates.

Section Three is an account of Mutambara’s student life at Oxford University under the illustrious Rhodes Scholarship and later as a professional in the United States—Out into the Big Wide World (1991-2002), as he titles it.

In fact, Mutambara was awarded both the Rhodes and Fulbright Scholarships, but turned down the later to pursue the former.

These are scholarships awarded for distinguished academic excellence and outstanding leadership. At Merton College at the University of Oxford, Mutambara enrolled for the MSc in Computer Engineering in 1991; and in the following year (1992) he registered for the PhD in Robotics and Mechatronics.

From 1995 to 2002, Mutambara is in the United States engaged as a Research Scientist at NASA, Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Management Consultant at McKinsey and Company, “among other interesting assignments”.

Throughout, Mutambara remained the political animal, as much in student politics at Oxford University as in his interactions with African American politics in the USA; and in his own words, “In all intellectual and activist type involvement, I never lost sight of the Zimbabwean agenda”. And so it is that this Volume sets the stage for the subsequent two Volumes which will no doubt tell us more about Mutambara’s “search” for the elusive Zimbabwean Dream.

Mutambara is the former Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

Mutambara, former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe were the three Principals who created and led the Government of National Unity.

He is currently the president of the African News Agency, a technology-driven multimedia news platform. Mutambara has written two electrical engineering books, and is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers and the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences.

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