Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Literal Genius of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe

What started of as a bit of fun for a quickie on my Blog, landed up being rather an exhausting scroll through the internet with some rather remarkable results. I think you will agree.


Recently I stumbled across, quite accidently I assure you, a very strange unknown statistic. It is unknown because it was me who discovered it. I know that ‘stats’ are well recognised as to be often totally misleading and often manipulated; usually to make bad news good. This is taught as part of a Master’s Degree in Spin by political universities all over the world.

Now, messing about a bit, creating my own time line and guessing accurately that what I have come up with is about as relevant as the stats of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, I uncovered an amazing fact. The trick is to see if with some rather dodgy input, I could make some cash. I mean, Tony Blair is now worth shit loads and all he did was peddle facts and figures of utter garbage.

With my newly conjured information, I wandered into the local ‘Bookies’ - better know as place of ill repute - legalised gambling. I then approached the woman behind the bullet proof, glass protected desk, who was idly painting her toenails whilst casting a lazy eye over the punters pumping their unemployment benefits into machines for the benefit of Ferrari owners and other luxuries.

Trying to sound sub-human to match the blank look on her face, associated with the British uneducated illiterates, I grunted out my proposal in TXT language.

‘What odds would you, or precisely, your employee, give me, that I know, that per squire inch per head of population in the last century, the country with residents of at least six months to be afforded more internationally literature prizes and multi-million best sellers; than any other at the same time in percentage of population to squire miles and GNP ratio? (Don’t worry if this makes no sense.)

She replies, whilst chewing gum and punching some drunk trying to grope her voluptuous breasts,

‘Sure, gimme a sec. I gotta see wat the com-poo-ta say.’

Hah, I knew she had more chance of negotiating an Arab - Israeli peace deal than getting the right answer – ask any Middle East envoy.

Presumably, her gambling odd software isn’t as bright as this spark because it would have to work out the following to get the right answer –

Firstly - to define the land Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in its Geo-Political position. Most people know that by the time Bismarck’s Berlin Conference of 1884 (The Scramble for Africa), had concluded, Africa had pretty well been hacked up into chunks with almost no account to the indigenous populations opinions. As, Joseph Conrad, so eloquently paraphrased the conference as "the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs" in his novel Heart of Darkness, Africa by 1914 looked on a political map like this –

As the decades wandered violently on, one bit was called Southern Rhodesia, then Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Republic of Rhodesia, Rhodesia-Zimbabwe and by the end of the last century, had been for two tenths of the time – Zimbabwe.

Then you have to take the average populace over the last century in the above named country as four maybe five million, and its relatively small GDP as against the then so called Old and New Worlds.

Also to be taken into account is that at the start of the 20th Century, education would have been very rudimentary in Rhodesia.

Finally, to create my criteria - how long must the writer have actually lived in Rhodesia? I settled on a minimum of six months. If that sounds too little for an environment to actually make an influence, I beg to differ. By the late ‘70s the then Government of Ian Smith, imposed a ‘settling in’ policy for newly arrived male (white classified) immigrants, of six months before they exchanged Safari Suits for itchy cotton canvas, painted to look like a tree, and run around the bush taking pot shots at illiterates hacked off they weren’t in whiteys nice schools. (Well, they are now, but sadly they trashed them, but that has nothing to do with this story.)

‘Awl right’ says the girl from behind her com-poo-ta, ‘wat country ya want?’

Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe,’ I reply with undisguised glee.

‘Ow ya spell “now”, I kent member it with a k or not.’

Once all this nonsense was settled, I received a slip of 5 to 4 on with a five pound bet.

‘I would like to see if I have won,’ I told drained-brain and handed the betting slip back. After feeding it into the com-poo-ta she handed me a pound.

I was stunned. ‘What, only a pound?’ exclaimed I angrily ‘but I won!’

‘Yeah, so wat? So wat your problem, stupid.’

I realised I had been tricked. Before I could start a ruckus, she went on, rather sympathetically to my dilemma, ‘We’re a betting shop, not a friggin charity. See that sign?’

I looked in the direction her bright red talons were waving at. ‘Wat it say?’

‘The right of admission reserved.’

‘Does it? Well, I never knew. The Manager said it said “Piss-Off now before ya get your head kicked in!” ’

Fair enough!

Here is the list. There might be more, but this is what I found. (In no particular order.)

Doris Lessing

Somerset Maugham Award (1954)

Prix Médicis étranger (1976)

Austrian State Prize for European Literature (1981)

Shakespeare-Preis der Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F. V. S., Hamburg (1982)

W. H. Smith Literary Award (1986)

Palermo Prize (1987)

Premio Internazionale Mondello (1987)

Premio Grinzane Cavour (1989)

James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography (1995)

Los Angeles Times Book Prize (1995)

Premi Internacional Catalunya (1999)

Order of the Companions of Honour (1999)

Companion of Literature of the Royal Society of Literature (2000)

David Cohen Prize (2001)

Premio Príncipe de Asturias (2001)

S.T. Dupont Golden PEN Award (2002)

Nobel Prize in Literature (2007)

Alexander Fuller

Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize (2002)

New York Times Notable Book (2002)

Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage (2006)

Peter Godwin

Apple/Esquire/Waterstones award (199?)

Orwell Prize (1997)

Dambudzo Marechera

Guardian fiction prize (1979)

Charles Mungoshi

Noma Award (1992)

Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region) (1988 and 1998)

Frederick Courteney Selous DSO

Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society

Yvonne Vera

Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Africa (1994)

Zimbabwe Publishers' Literary Award (1994)

German Literature Prize (2002)

Macmillan Writers' Prize for Africa (2002)

Swedish PEN Tucholsky Prize (2004)

Cont Mhlanga

The Freedom to Create Prize (2008)

Philip Pullman

Carnegie Medal (1995)

Whitbread Prize (2001)

Whitbread Book of the Year (2002)

Chenjerai Hove

Zimbabwe Literary Award (1988)

Noma Award for Publishing In Africa (1989)

German-Africa Prize for literary contribution to freedom of expression (2001)

Adin Kachisi

New York Book Festival - Science Fiction Book of the Year (2009)

Heidi Holland

Pulitzer award.

John Eppel

Ingrid Jonker Prize (19??)

MNet Prize (1994)

Brian Chikwava

Caine Prize for African Writing (2004)


Best selling Authors (multi-million sales) ---

Alexander (R.A.A.) "Sandy" McCall Smith, CBE, FRSE,

Wilbur Smith

Others – too many to mention.

Please see HERE -

No comments: