A journalistic journey through history and through the current Zimbabwe
Why did so many people emigrate from the Netherlands in the fifties? Why did hundreds of them choose to settle in what was then called Rhodesia, today’s Zimbabwe? And why did so many of them stay after 1965, when the country was led by a white-minority regime, faced an international boycott and was engulfed in a bloody guerrilla war?
Journalist Marnix de Bruyne addresses these questions in his book We moeten gaan. Nederlandse boeren in Zimbabwe. In it, he shares the story of a Dutch widow, who ignored advice to return to the Netherlands after her husband was killed by a landmine, planted in the road by the guerrilla’s with the help of two of her workers. She avoided being chased from her farm after 2000, when Robert Mugabe’s regime started the nationalization of white-owned farms, but ultimately lost her farm in 2014.
Another story is about a Dutch tobacco farmer, who was shot through the nose in 2012 by so-called war veterans, who wanted to chase him from his farm. Remarkably, he decided to work together with the person who probably gave the order for the attempted killing. Today, he manages the farm that he once owned, as a business partner of this new owner.
The book also talks about the hopes of and prospects for new black farmers on land formerly owned by Dutch immigrants or other white farmers. It will show how the tobacco sector has recovered, as one of the few industries in the country, in spite of the disastrous and persistent economic circumstances that have provoked ongoing protests against the Mugabe government.
‘Marnix de Bruyne has written a book that gives insight into the developments of Zimbabwe, from a different angel than the usual one, i.e. the British one. He has managed to intertwine the human approach with his paper research in a very readable way. He has written a book that is hard to put down.’
Read the review at semper aliquid novi africam adferre, a well informed blog about books from and about Africa.
About the author
Marnix de Bruyne (1965) was correspondent in South Africa for amongst others Het Parool and Business Nieuws Radio (BNR). From 2007-2011 he worked at the foreign desk of de Volkskrant, writing about Africa. In 2010 he published Het land van Soekmekaar, about how a rural village experiences the growing pains of the new South Africa. Currently he is parttime editor at the national daily NRC Handelsblad.
Marnix de Bruyne is giving lectures in Dutch and English about his book (length: 45 minutes to one hour). The title: Why hundreds of Dutch emigrants chose Rhodesia-Zimbabwe as their new home.
More information - and a video of a lecture - at the African Studies Centre Leiden.