Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:31 AM Subject: Dinner with Mugabe
Dear Heidi, I read your book late last year titled “Dinner with Mugabe.” I couldn’t put it down, it is very informative, well written and well researched too. Thank you for such a great piece of work.
Sincerely yours, Sibulelo Ncamani Johannesburg South Africa
Friday, June 27, 2008 6:59 AM. Subject: Your Apr. 1 NYT Op-Ed Piece
In light of the unmitigated disaster that has befallen Zimbabwe, I reread your article and found it to be unnerving in its prescience. You predicted that Mr. Mugabe could indeed become much “nastier” than he has ever been and that just when the West would come to believe the situation in Zimbabwe could get no worse that it would become much worse. I’m sure you take no satisfaction in your astute analysis but how does the West engage a man who may no longer be in control of his own organization (the Wash Post implies that it is the younger generation of Zanu-PF activists who have forced the swing back to terror) or even of his own mind? The questions are meant rhetorically but I despair when I watch what is happening to this once proud country and its suffering people.
Harris Lirtzman Albany, NY USA
Monday, June 30, 2008 6:32 PM Subject: MUGABE: the underlying truth
Good morning Heidi, Mugabe has a point — for all his obstreperous ways — the former colonial powers must change their negative mindset about black management styles. Right now the strongest assumption on the international level is that “thing must always go down south when black management takes charge”. This mentality is buttressed by intense backroom lobbying by interest groups on the losing side. Black governments therefore start their management with a minus zero balance in international goodwill. Nobody expects them to function, let alone move forward or even meet the basic needs of their citizens. Their are surrounded by a crowd of skeptics constantly murmuring: “told you so”. Consequently folks like Morgan Tzvangirai may have good intentions about democratizing Africa, but their footprints and external supporters merely reinforce this lingering colonial mentality……………… I had a head-on collision with these skeptics after emigrating to the West. My host friends were having a hard time trusting me with basic stuff like managing my own money. They found themselves instinctively driven to tell me how and what to spend “for my own good”. It did not matter that I had managed multi-million dollar enterprises in my own country. Or that I had more education than all of them combined. These jokers would make subtle comments like “I just sent money to help buy shoes for a starving child in Kenya”. “Imagine they still do not have indoor plumbing or running water”. The undertone in such pointed conversations was to uphold the supremacy of white civilization as compared to the chaotic, disease-ridden, over-crowded “matatus” that represents the common image of Africa. It was noted further that the ideal image of “acceptable black friend” was someone subservient and disoriented enough to be constantly told what to be, what to do and what to think. Any black person who showed too much self -independence was quickly isolated from the inner-circle.When I raised this matter with the most open-minded among that lot — she told me that white folks needed more time to get over their negative fallacies and prejudices concerning other people groups. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat. Like maybe another thousand years was my sarcastic response. Lesson: negative perceptions breed negative criticisms — which in turn breed negative responses. You said it right that Mugabe is being driven by relentless spite against perceived snubs from Britain et al. It is the same reason behind the illogical support for Mugabe now being seen among ordinary Zimbabweans (despite the current hardships). The same reason why I moved across the railway tracks from the “country club” zip codes. P/S: I am working towards designing a fighter jet — so that I can buzz over my snooty friends and their lingering fallacies………………….. Thaaai Thaaai (peace and blessings).
Friday, July 04, 2008 10:21 AM Subject: Dinner with…
Dear Heidi Holland, just a few lines about your book which seems to be quite a hit. Was published just at the right time. I saw you on BBC. Quite a few people I met have read it already, and others wanted to borrow my copy. On the whole I think you have been able to capture the person quite well and explain his now erratic behaviour quite plausibly. There remains of course always the question: why have others who went through similar experiences reacted so very differently and much better? It so happened that at around the same time as I read your book I also read Susan Williams, Colour Bar, on the life of Sir Seretse Kama and his English wife Ruth Williams. Khama also had much reason to be very bitter against the British given their craven behaviour in the nineteen fifties when they gave way to South African and Rhodesian objections for him to be a traditional leader in what was to become Botswana of which he became then later the first president. About details one can of course always argue. I agree with you that that church wedding with Grace was a dubious affair (though for somewhat different reasons), but I do not want to discuss this here, too complicated. But your view of Archbishop Chakaipa who was of course responsible is maybe a bit too simple. First of all, Chakaipa would deserve a psycho-biography just as Mugabe. Though he was not so bright, he was deeply traumatised like Mugabe by racial discrimination. And then he also came from a very simple rural background, having been a herdboy until the age of ten before he ever set foot in a school, twenty year later he was a Catholic priest, 33 years later a bishop, quite a career, but he remained that little herdboy: he wrote four Shona novels which show his love for traditional Shona life. Mugabe was for him the liberator from racial discrimination. He could not just reject him for his later misdeeds. But he did blame the leaders (by implication also Mugabe) for having bungled the land redistribution of which he approved by giving the land to themselves, not to the ordinary people (this is clear from his last interview he gave before he died – I published it in our little magazine some years ago). On the other hand, he could not stand criticism of Africans or the African government from whites, including white priests (on whom he relied much and whose help he appreciated). That was my problem with him, though I got along with him quite well on pastoral matters: he was after all a good and caring priest, no doubt, maybe a bit limited in his vision, but still a kind man whith a deep sense of responsibility as a bishop. Prof George Kahari taught African languages and not sociology. I know because he taught me linguistics and Shona grammar at UZ in 1967 or thereabouts. Small point. The Father O’Hea Hospital in Kutama was not built by Fr O’Hea. In those days they had at best a little clinic. It was built only after Independence at the urgent request of Mugabe by Chinhoyi Catholic Diocese under which Kutama falls. He also sourced the money to build it with, mostly from Canada, with the help of the Marist Brothers who were French-Canadian. I personally believe that certain church people were rather naive in their attitude towards Mugabe after Independence. There was a sort of honey moon when Mugabe just could not do anything wrong and was forgiven anything. He was allowed to address church congregations, quite contrary to normal pratice and he used that chance to commend himself as a “devout Catholic” quite clervly, as you would expect. I think the Church has to re-think its own role in shaping his thought and begaviour ( or failing to do so) quite seriously. But that is all part of a big post-mortem which this country will have to engage in soon…. The situation is bad. I was dealing with “displaced persons” from rural areas. Now I am displaced myself. Like a few more priests I am not able to stay in the parish to which I am attached and cannot do my work because those young party thugs the party was using to do its dirty business have me on their hitlist or so I am told, and my superiors take that seriously. So I am waiting for their green light to go back. Now police and army apparently are trying to round up those gansters and dump them. But the situation remains confused, one moment you hear this, the next something entirely different.
With every good wish, Fr Oskar Wermter. St Peter Claver Catholic Church,Mbare,Harare,Zimbabwe
Monday, June 30, 2008 10:04 PM Subject: Fwd: Question for Mugabe guest
Hi. My name’s Aaron Barnhart and I’m a staff writer at the Kansas City Star. I just heard your interview on National Public Radio. One of Robert Mugabe’s most diehard supporters is the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga. In the 1990s he lived in the United States with his family while attending seminary and many of us considered him our friend. (We have a square on our wedding quilt made by Agatha, his wife.) We remain truly perplexed how a man of God could turn himself over to defending the violence and evil of Mugabe’s regime and if the author has any insight into the cult of supporters surrounding Robert Mugabe. I’m thinking about blogging about this story, so I’ll get a copy of your book. If you’d rather not say things in email for the record, just say so.
Thanks for your time.
Saturday, July 05, 2008 4:00 PM Subject: Appreciation of your book ‘Diner with Mugabe’
Dear Heidi Hollander, I just finished reading your book “Dinner with Mugabe”. I bought it a week ago after hearing an interview with you on the Dutch radio and read it ‘non-stop’. I want to thank you for the effort, taking the risk and having the courage to prepare for and then write a book like this. What was most special to me to read, is the emphasis you gave to the moments of ‘choice’ Mugabe has had. Indeed, as a child he grew up as he did, with all the influences as you describe them. As a child/adolescent he definitely did not learn to be in touch with his emotions, which are so vital to making choices and to evaluate choices made. But like with any human being, there must have been moments when, being in terms of age an adult, he started to realise ‘something went different then I intended’. And as you describe, he choose step by step an ever firmer pattern of denial, focussing increasingly on blaming others, resulting in tyrannical patterns of counter behaviour, without ever combining this with any type of reflection on his own (people’s) contribution to the situation. Rather, he developed a knee-jerk reaction: “I don’t make enemies, others make me an enemy of theirs” What I also appreciate in your book, is that it doesn’t ‘blame’ him – I appreciate your drive for getting to know ‘the man’ and understanding the evolution of the patterns of behaviour. To me, that’s where for all of us human beings the learning is. We all have our moments of choice – “do I deny the consequence of my behaviour or am I open to reflect the impact of what I did, evaluate it against my intention and if necessary, scope alternative scenario’s for future reactions”. Blaming each other when talking about it makes us shutting down, going in defence mode. The book also appeals so much to me, because in my day-to-day work I focus on the behaviour of leaders in larger national and international organisations. I am a Dutchman, 49 years, and also I have reflected on the impact of my behaviour in my work, on my partner, on my kids, with an extra effort over the last 10-year’s. Being by background a business economist, I studied many years Jung’s work and Gestalt psychology, worked in Human Resource areas in large multinationals and am since 14 years now partner in a small consultancy. In this work, I guided many people in many organisations through changes. By now, I am happy to find my self in a situation where I can predominantly work with leaders who are interested to reflect on their behaviour in order understand the impact they have on their people. Too often they experience the impact to be not as they intended and often not even known to them. Confronted with the actual impact, denial is around the corner, saying: “integrity and honesty are my core-values, so that cannot be”. What is opening those people up, is a confrontation with the actual experience of their behaviour by their own people – e.g. through interview results. Then, when diving in with them, the source is most often un-know, uncontrolled emotions, originating in younger years, stored in the body. Awakened by a situation, the stored emotion finds its way out of the body and turns positive intentions into dysfunctional behaviour. The key-route to them mastering their behaviour is guiding them through an honest reflection of their deep-down-stored-away-unresolved emotions – which to most leaders is new! Your book gives me a crystal clear example of how long term denial, combined with holding on to one’s own, seen as God-given, principles can turn a ‘normal’ person into a tyrant. I can tell you, many leaders of organisations are, unintended, en route to be(come) a sort of tyrant. By far not extreme as the Mugabe types – but still, the drive for satisfying the never-happy shareholder, for making the illusionary target, for achieving the bonus which will quite down the partner at home, can turn good people into showing devastating behaviour. For your interest, please find below the generic description of a program that I conduct with leaders who like to do this kind of reflection. The overall theme to me is: rather then your emotions leading you, become the leader of your emotions!! For now, I would like to end by saying again than you for writing this book – I will use it through my work, for myself and with the people who are in search for reflection on their leadership behaviour.
Kind regrds, Arri Pauw
Monday, July 21, 2008 3:37 PM Subject: Dinner with Mugabe.
> > Dear Heidi, > > I want to congratulate you on your excellent book “Dinner with > Mugabe”. I received it only 2 weeks ago. I am sorry that I could > not give you the interview you had asked for, but my superiors were > to scared for the welfare of our sisters still in Zimbabwe and so I > could not speak. You omitted only one major event, namely how I > helped Robert to escape. Fortunately you did not quote Fr. Ribeiro’s > false story of that escape. I was interested to learn that Br. > Fidelis, whom I had sent into a protected village at great risk to > himself – and the information he got for me for the J.and P > commission was very important – has now become head of the Jesuits in > the country. What a decision! I personally know quite a number of > the people you interviewed and hence I was very interested. I old > chief Tangwena still alive? he little booklet about him – without my > name – I had written. > > It was good that you took the Freudian approach to understand better > Robert’s personality; but did you not be a bit too repetitive in that > regard? > > May I congratulate you once more. You have done a magnificent piece > of work. > > Hildegard.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 10:08 PM Subject: Your book-Dinner with Mugabe
Dear Ms. Holland, I have read the book and found it to be a most unusual one due to the fact that you have looked at the man in more than one way. It is a very balanced book and having been involved in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe until 1982 I can see many of the situations you refer to in a different light. I wonder what would have happened if we had known the personality and psychology of Mugabe during the just after the war. Even if one was not of the same political opinion as you it is hard to challenge the fairness of the book and the detail contained therein. I knew quite a few of the ZAPU and ZANU individuals including Joshua and John Nkomo (John worked with me in the early 70’s), Joshua Malinga, Herbert Ushewekunze. We sold our ranch on the Falls Road to the first Minister of Mines and he was shot on it 4 years later during the North Korean killings in Matabeleland. My father had a business in which we came into contact with a lot of the nationalists and while we did not always see eye to eye it was a good experience to hear the other side. I also knew many of the RF people including Ian Smith’s sister, Phylis, who lived in Bulawayo as well as “white opposition” members. I think that this has led me to have a more cynical approach to things as the US war in Iraq, the ignorance of the EU in respect of the Congo and Sudan etc. Our war led to so many deaths and post war there were so many more deaths that one has to wonder when one is faced in the future with such things as 9/11 what should be done about it. I have often said that “yesterday’s terrorist is tomorrow’s leader”. It is hard to argue that that is not true as one only has to look at the Stern Gang in Israel, the IRA, Yasser Arafat, the FLQ in Canada, Nelso Mandela etc. One man’ terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. I do not now if you have ever come to North America but should you ever decide to travel we would love to see you and have you stay with us while you are in the Toronto area. I still have quite a few family members in Zimbabwe and get the news on a regular basis. It is so sad how things have gone downhill and are still going downhill. One only has to look at Wikipedia under Zimbabwe Dollar to see the daily slide of the currency. No mealie meal, no health services, no law and order, no fuel etc. It is like Zimbabwe is being herded back into the stone age. The madness must stop. Sanity must prevail. The Dogs of War must be removed. Enough war, enough unrest, enough suffering. I am now in Canada and employ several ex Zimbabweans who live in the Toronto area. Some of them have relatives were senior ZIPRA and ZANLA officials so we do manage to have most interesting discussions. No hatred but a lot of “what ifs”. As you wrote such an excellent book I would like to suggest that once this situation in Zimbabwe becomes more stable you possibly write a book about how the population adapted to the new order of no fuel, food, money etc. It would make an excellent read showing the resilience of the people in Zimbabwe. There are not many nations that have gone through what the people in Zims are going through today. It is truly amazing how that have managed to cope and also not turn to violence to overthrow Bob. Since leaving Zimbabwe I have added to my library on Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and now have some 550 books as well as other items from the country. I collect the books not for selling but as one of my hobbies. I even have every National Geographic ever published dealing with Rhodesia and Zimbabwe from early the last century. The books are from all sides of the war and cover every topic from agriculture to war, business, history, mining, housing, poetry etc. One always has to read both sides to form an opinion. It would be a most interesting book as so much has happened in the country. I could cry when I see the suffering today. Thank you so much for writing such an excellent book.
Yours truly, Frits Scheltema Pse put on DWM, alongside ref to new UK paperpack the following: Published in Spanish in Madrid by Ediciones (see below)…, September 2008 Also: Paperback edition published in Austalia.
Thursday, September 11, 2008 8:23 AM Subject: Att: Mrs. Holland “Dinner with Mugabe” in Spanish
Dear Heidi, This is Daniel Ortiz, from Ediciones Escalera, your Spanish publisher. First of all we want to thank you for such an interesting work and for giving us the chance to publish it in our country. The book is already on print and it will be out by the 22nd of September. We intend to present it first at the Edition Fair in Tenerife because this year the exibition is about Africa and translating African literature so it fits perfectly there. The presentation will be on the 27th of September and the book will be in libraries all over Spain by the 6th of October. For the promotion we are trying to involve as many media groups and institutions as possible because we think the book worth lots of attention in our country. We would also like to ask you if you know Spanish journalists who might reinforce our promotion in order to “touch” all possible fronts. Unfortunately we cannot afford having you here from South Africa but if you were around Europe somehow next month we could arrange something to present the book in situ in Madrid with you. On the other hand, we need to ship the agreed books to you or leave them to Jane Ranger by the Penguin stand in Frankfurt, where we intend to visit the Book Fair in October. In any case we will send you the pdf´s by e-mail so you can have an advance. If there´s anything else you think we should bare in mind, don´t hesitate to let us know. Ps: We are ultimating details on our website, in a week it will have all the contains perfecltly uploaded.
Thanks once more, Daniel Ortiz Peñate
Monday, February 16, 2009 12:45 PM Subject: Dinner with Mugabe
Dear Heidi Holland I write from the UK to say how much I enjoyed and learned from Dinner with Mugabe. The analysis of his character, the insight into his personality offered a far more rounded picture than the “monster” of the daily newspapers, no matter how well informed. I know a little something of Zimbabwe, having (distant) relatives who are Zimbabwean just as I have twice visited South Africa and have cousins there. That background gave some personal context to the absorbing story which you reveal. By the way, one small point of fact: Clare Short is not known as “Bomber” because of Ireland. It was a title bestowed on her because of belief that NATO air strikes against Kosovo were justified. Again, many thanks for such a superb book.
Sincerely Terry Philpot