Shout-Africa Reviews – Chielo Zona Eze’s debut novel is set in the African afterlife; Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, stands trial for the wrongs he has committed against his people in which the late South Africa nationalist, Steve Biko and the late Zimbabwean writers Yvonne Vera and Dambudzo Marechera are among the members of a divine jury helping God decide Zimbabwean President Mugabe’s fate.
In the first half of the novel, four Zimbabweans share their story of how Mugabe’s tactics led to their death. In the second half, Yvonne Vera, an important Zimbabwean writer who is present at the trial, shares her fictional stories of Zimbabweans devastated by Mugabe’s actions.
The stories of the people are prosiac, and this novel is satirical in a way. “Initially it could be a bit confusing for readers with no knowledge of Zimbabwean history, but the history of the country is very skillfully woven in to the narrative, providing an effective backdrop for the characters’ stories. Very highly recommended,” remarked one Laci from the LibraryThing.
The book The Trial of Robert Mugabe draws deep from the well of African literature to challenge a post-independence leadership whose discourse has been accused for the victimhood used to legitimate the most appalling brutalities.
“Chielo Zona Eze makes Robert Mugabe answerable for the massacres of Gukurahundi in the 1980s and the tortures and rapes perpetrated by the Green Bombers in the 2000s. A skillfully-crafted novel and a deep philosophical analysis of postcolonial fever,” commented Prof. Meg Samuelson of Stellenbosch University.
Synopsis of the book.
Unable to recall when exactly he died, Robert Mugabe is shocked to be in the presence of God for trial. Facing him are countless people who died during his regime. They tell their stories, after which God condemns him to hell. Mugabe suddenly wakes up, in Harare, realizing he just had a dreadful dream. Set in the African Afterlife, The Trial of Robert Mugabe tells the Zimbabwean story from the perspectives of two iconic Zimbabwean writers, Yvonne Vera and Dambudzo Marechera, present at the trial. At the core of the trial is Gukurahundi (1982-1987), a highly orchestrated genocide on Ndebele people by Mugabe’s North Korean trained Fifth Brigade. Yvonne Vera had reflected this mass killing in her novel, The Stone Virgins. At the trial, she relates some of what she knows about Gukurahundi to Mugabe’s hearing. Marechera also gets a unique opportunity to interpret his famous title, House of Hunger, to Mugabe’s understanding. But this is not just about Gukurahundi. It is also about Zimbabwe today (2000-2008). It is about how Mugabe’s militia used rape, murder and starvation as means of political repression. In the words of Ali Mazrui, those who are picked for trial are sometimes just symbols of wider phenomena. The Trial of Robert Mugabe is a symbol of the trial of African despots and a sad reminder of the truth in the words of the great poet, W.H. Auden: We would rather be ruined than change. We would rather die in our dread Than climb the cross of the Present And let our illusions die.