Zimbabwean Dream: Arthur Mutambara Writes About Private Life

Arthur Guseni Oliver Mutambara, a world-renowned robotics professor and one of the most intriguing figures in Zimbabwean public life, has rarely written about the private dimensions of his life - until now.

In this 249-page memoir, In Search of the Elusive Zimbabwean Dream: An Autobiography of Thought Leadership, the first of a three-book series that explores his thoughts and philosophical disposition over a period of 35 years, he delivers a fascinating, provocative and rigorously engrossing tour de force.
Arthur Mutambara

Volume one is sub-titled The Formative Years and the Big Wide World (1983-2002). But what exactly is “the Zimbabwean dream”? Before we even venture there, we must also ask: what does it mean to be Zimbabwean?

This is a nation which held immense promise at independence in 1980. The Zimbabwe dollar was stronger than the US dollar. The country boasted sub-Saharan Africa’s most industrialised economy after South Africa.

Today, 37 years later, there is no national currency. The UN says the rate of formal unemployment has reached a staggering 95% and 72% of the population lives in “extreme poverty”. What “dream” can the world possibly expect from a country led by a 93-year-old president who is eyeing re-election next year?

Surely, dreaming is for tomorrow's people, not yesterday's men.

To locate the Zimbabwean dream, we must trace its roots. Mutambara, who turned 50 on May 25, proffers a compelling argument. In his eyes, the Zimbabwean dream can only be realised, first, through a shared national vision and, second, through the creation of what he terms “brand Zimbabwe”.

“For example, we could aspire to make Zimbabwe a globally competitive economy, a prosperous nation with a high quality of life for our people by 2040. Ostensibly, we can then conceive three supporting pillars for this vision. The first pillar should be about the economy, while the second focuses on society, and the third pillar deals with our politics,” he writes.

Mutambara is at his eloquent best when he elucidates the meaning of “a shared Zimbabwean dream”. He does not prescribe a formulaic dream but proposes the collective thought process that could lead to the expression of “a quintessentially Zimbabwean Dream”.

Here his narrative - flowing crisply in present continuous tense - teases and tantalises. Can Zimbabweans dare to dream, in spite of all their well-documented woes? Unfortunately, in this part of the autobiography there is not much meat for readers to really sink their teeth into.

But wait a minute, could this be the rocket scientist's way of rousing our curiosity ahead of the publication of the next two books in the trilogy? - The Star


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