Book Update: Innocent Victims – Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe’s farm invasions – by Cathy Buckle

What a book!

Here’s the update: the book, first published as a hardback in 2009 by Merlin Unwin, has been published again this year as a high quality paperback. The publishers say that “it is most readily available throughout Africa via The Book Depository which has the title available for £14.99, with free delivery worldwide”.

Innocent Victims is a true story, based on the first hand accounts of the Chief Inspector for the ZNSPCA (Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Meryl Harrison, who, in the early 2000s, travelled widely around the farming districts of the country as they were being wrenched apart by land reform. Supported by a small team, her mission was to rescue the animals from farms where the owners had been forced off by unpredictable, aggressive mobs, often in situations that had spiralled violently out of control.

It was an emotional, empowering read for me, as much about courage and loyalty, as it is about mayhem, and at its core is Meryl’s persistent, brave determination to help the stranded animals.

In the audio clip below I say a little more about the book, and read the first four and a half pages of Chapter One. These start with the dog that inspired Meryl and her team to begin their rescues.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2021

Book Review: This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

“There is a fish in the mirror. The mirror is above the washbasin in the corner of your hostel room.”

The opening lines of a book I love for its fractured intensity. Reading it is like being plunged into a bruise, one that stains Zimbabweans everywhere.

Art Exhibition – The Stars are Bright – London

Exhibiton of paintings by students at Cyrene Mission School in Zimbabwe some seventy years ago

Rocks and Flowers (1945) by William Nyati (The Stars are Bright)

My visit to this art exhibition in early October 2020 felt like a journey into a fragile time warp. I left it filled with nostalgia for the land where I was born … and with a question.

How would this show of school art from Africa, intended originally for international audiences in the 1940s, be seen in the middle of Black History Month in London, over seventy years later?

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