Book Review

Book Review        by       John Sindano








The Other - without fear, favour or prejudice

In reviewing this book, what struck me was that, whereas there are any number of books that have been spawned by the Zimbabwe situation, this one is different, very different, as revealed from the moment I picked it up.
I found that I was immediately "engaged" by the book cover, starting with the two-part title. As a lawyer, I have familiarity with the latter part but felt intrigued by the title "The other", and the connection between the two. So too as regards the graphic depiction of the southern African region and the footprints leading from country to country. What of the animal illustrations and the pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and an African sangoma? I am familiar with the blindfolded lady holding a sword in one hand and scales in the other. The question was - what did this all mean?
The author has lost no time in providing the answer(s). On the every first page, being the title page, appears a heart warming picture that has a truly engaging attribute. From that moment my interest was aroused, never to leave me thereafter.
In my view it is something of a misnomer to describe this book as a biography. Undoubtedly it tells the story of the life of the child, whose picture got my attention on the title page. However the content comprises anecdotal fare, chronologically selected memoirs that are delightfully served up in order to support the relevance of the story.
Whilst the story line is enthralling, the book itself is concerned with the critically important issue of justice, in the main. Included are subsets such as racism, ethnicity, xenophobia and systemic corruption. These issues are all fundamental, topical, and loom large in our region at this particular time.
I found his treatment of these matters refreshingly different and stimulating. This is not a lecture by a judge, far from it. It is a story about a very ordinary human being whose life story becomes extraordinary on account of the accidents of history and circumstance. It is unique, it is authentic and it is enthralling. The intriguing link between the life of the subject and the issues that affect all mankind in general, and millions of people in the region, in particular, is never lost. From start to finish I was entertained. I was also engaged and intellectually stimulated especially as regards the treatment of prevailing "convenient untruth" and "inconvenient truth", approached with brutal simplicity. For instance I found his treatment of the vexed issues of the death sentence and affirmative action riveting in its authentic simplicity and clarity of approach.
I have to agree with the author that, of all functional attributes, "understanding" is key. Without it there will no, or flawed, reconsideration of fundamental issues. Then there will be no change. Without change, sagas like World Com, the global financial collapse, the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, genocidal killings and the xenophobic violence in South Africa is guaranteed.
In the end, I understood fully the depictions on the cover. I then asked myself whether or not the footprints were just that, or "footprints in the sands of time". The answer is yes, very much so. This is a story that has keen relevance. It is authentic. It is of historical and other significance. An instance of historical significance is the Tekere trial. An instance of the latter is an inside track as to approach by judges and advocates.
Whether you are a historian, social scientist, member of the legal fraternity, student of law, one of millions in the Zimbabwean Diaspora, southern African citizen or member of the US National Association of Coloured Peoples, in particular, this book will engage, fascinate and enthrall. It is also of keen relevance to all humanity, whose members are forever challenged in matters of truth and justice.
I unhesitatingly recommend this book as a wonderful story with incredibly important themes. It has much more to it than the "love triangle" work, immortalized in the smash hit movie "Out of Africa"..

John Sindano

Judicial Officer. Namibia
(Writing in private capacity)








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