“The endless journey”, he obviously sets himself up for some inevitable questions about him and whatever he thinks of his “endless” journey.
However, Dhliwayo, who is a physics expert, traces his life from the liberation struggle to the present day where he is into ICT and acquits himself well in the story of his life. While one can doubt whether his indeed is an endless journey, he writes beautifully and simply.
(Sometimes he is quite plain, of course he is no literary expert, and he even manages to write “leant” instead of “learnt” throughout the book. This is just his endless mistake!)
The greatest thing about Dhliwayo’s book is that he manages to capture some of the most defining moments in Zimbabwe’s heady liberation war story.
His first hand accounts lend much credibility and pathos to the book — although his talking about real places and people exposes some weaknesses in the narrative, as will be seen.
He went to Chimoio via Machaze and Chibavava training camps and witnessed the 1977 Chimoio attacks by the Rhodesian forces. He graphically depicts the events of the gory fateful day which also claimed his sister Evah. He was also in Mozambique when Nyadzonia was pummelled by the Smith regime as Rhodesia descended heavily on unarmed refugees in what Dhliwayo believes was Rhodesia’s attempt to defeat the crucible of revolutionary fighters who would hence go back home and fight.
Dhliwayo witnessed the uncertain days of Zipa and the attempted coup by Dzinashe “Dzino” Machingura to take over the leadership of Zanu when the leaders had been imprisoned after the death of Herbert Chitepo in Zambia. He makes you feel the piercing eyes of Josiah Tongogara as he scanned over young recruits and his charisma and command.
A case in point: Dzino had allegedly outlawed the use of names in slogans because it would make cult politics. At the banishment of Dzino and company at Chibavava camp, Tongogara’s first words were “pamberi naMugabe” and the young cadres, unsure at first, later rallied at the cry.
The illustrations are beautiful.
You cannot but identify with the cowed youngsters as Tongo glowered at them while raising a strong fist or the smoothness in Robert Mugabe as he addressed the 22 Sierra Leone-bound youngsters.
On the controversial issue of the death of Zanla commander Tongogara, Dhliwayo believes that the accident was genuine and dismisses as “preposterous” suggestions of “machinations”. It was Tongo’s third accident that Dhliwayo knew about, he writes and many comrades had perished in Mozambique’s treacherous roads.
There is something that leaves the reader with a sense of unfulfilment relating to Dhliwayo’s own life.
First, he never really fought the war as he had desired, because he did not train; first because of his dimunitive size and later because he was sent to Sierra Leone for education.
He came back to serve Zimbabwe as a teacher and lecturer before going away to Canada, UK and the United States where he settled and has citizenship.
He now calls himself an Africa-American, which one can construe does not quite sound easy on his Zimbabwean lips. He is also frustrated by the slow uptake of ICTs in Africa. The troubles at the think-tank called Nepad Council also frustrates Dhliwayo as the efforts by Diasporans to work with and for the continent is stymied by leadership problems.
He is the current president of Nepad Council.
Another frustrating thing is that Dhliwayo gets divorced to his wife of 24 years and his papering over it and declaring, in the last sentence of the book immediately after his divorce tale, that “I will continue to soldier on . . .” seems pathetically a brave face to a big problem. Perhaps a new found friendship he finds with some young woman might succour his situation. Dhliwayo is frustrated by the politics of Zimbabwe. He sounds as though he is torn between Zanu-PF and the MDC.
He also is unhappy about corruption among political leaders. As highlighted above, writing about real places and people could be a wonderful thing — only if you are 100 percent correct. One of the weaknesses that Dhliwayo shows especially in the narrative of present day politics is that he seems to rely on the sensational news to form his picture. And he gets carried away when talking about the alleged corruption and excesses as to be untruthful.
There is one good example in the book.
He refers to the sensational case in which a minister caught in a divorce mess is exposed as very filthy rich.
“I shuddered imagining the amount of damage that would be caused to the country if each of the senior Government figures were corruptly amassing the same levels of wealth,” he writes. That is not the worst part.
Here is: “The editor of The Herald newspaper that published the story received death threats and a package in the post with a live bullet, fresh human bloodstains and a frightening warning.”
This is simply not true and I had to ask William Chikoto, the editor of The Herald until a couple of months ago, who said it was a big fat lie.
Chikoto suggested the writer could have picked it up on the net as there had been some such speculative story. Only Dhliwayo reported it as fact and if indeed he had picked it on the net he is guilty of plagiarism!
I have not had a chance to talk to Information Secretary George Charamba as to whether he indeed he is the George Charamba that Dhliwayo glowingly mentions in his book.
But there is a humane, if humourous, sub-plot in Dhliwayo’s stint at Chindunduma High School in Bindura.
At some point a headmaster, apparently threatened by the brilliance and war credentials of Dhliwayo, was hard on him and wanted to throw Dhliwayo out, only for the deputy head Charamba to vow that would not happen. And, boy, did Dhliwayo not get himself into trouble by impregnating a South African cadre who he had previously met outside the country!
Again, it is frustrating that the South African woman he does not mention by name, is sent away and says the father of the unborn one is Zambian.
The two later meet, but again it is a tale of the unfulfilled. Dhliwayo says he was first inspired to write a book when he read the book, “Selous Scouts”, by Reid Daly.
He says he thought the book was fraught with gross misrepresentation of facts which he needed to present as accurately as possible from his involvement in the struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe.
For example, in Reid Daly’s book, he says, it was alleged that Obert Chiridza, one of the “unsung heroes” of the liberation struggle, was killed at Nyadzonia.
“I know for a fact that Chiridza, who is my cousin, was never killed at Nyadzonia — he became my military trainer after Nyadzonia and we worked together at Chindunduma High School in the eighties and as of this day I am in touch with him by phone,” he told The Herald.
He says he hopes that “my story of struggling as a child, picking tea in exchange for tuition, involvement in the struggle and going on to become a respected expert in the ICT industry could be an inspiration for our children.”
Jabulani Dhliwayo was born in Chipinge, Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), Southern Africa.
At the age of 15, Dhliwayo was forced into exile in Mozambique because of the escalating war between the white regime in Rhodesia and blacks fighting for majority rule.
In Mozambique, Jabulani was one of 22 students to be selected out of 5 000 displaced youths to take up a United Nations Development Programme scholarship to complete high school studies in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He later studied for a BSc in Physics with certification in education and graduated in 1985.
After graduation and after Independence, Jabulani went back to Zimbabwe where he turned down high paying industry and Government positions to take up a teaching position at Chindunduma High School. Chindunduma was a school of ex-refugees who were displaced by the war and never had the opportunity to finish high school.
In addition to heading the science department at Chindunduma, Jabulani had to handle a very heavy teaching load to offset the acute shortage of physical science teachers at the school. In 1987, Jabulani took up a lecturer position at Harare Polytechnic where he taught diploma and undergraduate physics and electronics.
Jabulani later received a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) fellowship to study for an MSc degree at Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario. He graduated in 1993 and went back to Zimbabwe where he continued to lecture at the Harare Polytechnic.
Since 1999, Dr Dhliwayo has been with Corning Inc. as a senior research scientist. He develops novel measurement techniques for polarisation related impairments in fibre, photonics, LCD glass, and other specialty materials. He is involved in diversity and other community activities locally and in Africa.