Peter Godwin




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Peter Godwin

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born
in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia now known as, Zimbabwe
gender
male

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member since
July 2008


About this author

"Peter Godwin was born and raised in Africa. He studied law at Cambridge University, and international relations at Oxford. He is an award winning foreign correspondent, author, documentary-maker and screenwriter.

After practicing human rights law in Zimbabwe, he became a foreign and war correspondent, and has reported from over 60 countries, including wars in: Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Somalia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kashmir and the last years of apartheid South Africa. He served as East European correspondent and Diplomatic correspondent for the London Sunday Times, and chief correspondent for BBC television's flagship foreign affairs program, Assignment, making documentaries from such places as: Cu...more


Average rating: 4.13 · 6,707 ratings · 933 reviews · 14 distinct works · Similar authors
When a Crocodile Eats the S...
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 4,044 ratings — published 2006 — 14 editions
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Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa
4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 1,835 ratings — published 1996 — 14 editions
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The Fear: Robert Mugabe and...
4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 763 ratings — published 2010 — 13 editions
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Rhodesians Never Die: The I...
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 21 ratings — published 1993 — 3 editions
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Information Literacy Meets ...
3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 10 ratings — published 2008 — 2 editions
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Wild at Heart: Man and Beas...
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2007
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Information Literacy Beyond...
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2012 — 2 editions
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Peter Godwin, 3 Books Colle...
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Wanneer een krokodil de zon...
0.0 of 5 stars 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 2007
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The Looming Epidemic
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Wild at Heart by Chris     Johns
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Il Cuore Selvaggio Dell'africa by Chris     Johns
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The Three of Us by Joanna Coles
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“I feel to that the gap between my new life in New York and the situation at home in Africa is stretching into a gulf, as Zimbabwe spirals downwards into a violent dictatorship. My head bulges with the effort to contain both worlds. When I am back in New York, Africa immediately seems fantastical – a wildly plumaged bird, as exotic as it is unlikely.

Most of us struggle in life to maintain the illusion of control, but in Africa that illusion is almost impossible to maintain. I always have the sense there that there is no equilibrium, that everything perpetually teeters on the brink of some dramatic change, that society constantly stands poised for some spasm, some tsunami in which you can do nothing but hope to bob up to the surface and not be sucked out into a dark and hungry sea. The origin of my permanent sense of unease, my general foreboding, is probably the fact that I have lived through just such change, such a sudden and violent upending of value systems.

In my part of Africa, death is never far away. With more Zimbabweans dying in their early thirties now, mortality has a seat at every table. The urgent, tugging winds themselves seem to whisper the message, memento mori, you too shall die. In Africa, you do not view death from the auditorium of life, as a spectator, but from the edge of the stage, waiting only for your cue. You feel perishable, temporary, transient. You feel mortal.

Maybe that is why you seem to live more vividly in Africa. The drama of life there is amplified by its constant proximity to death. That’s what infuses it with tension. It is the essence of its tragedy too. People love harder there. Love is the way that life forgets that it is terminal. Love is life’s alibi in the face of death.

For me, the illusion of control is much easier to maintain in England or America. In this temperate world, I feel more secure, as if change will only happen incrementally, in manageable, finely calibrated, bite-sized portions. There is a sense of continuity threaded through it all: the anchor of history, the tangible presence of antiquity, of buildings, of institutions. You live in the expectation of reaching old age.

At least you used to.

But on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, those two states of mind converge. Suddenly it feels like I am back in Africa, where things can be taken away from you at random, in a single violent stroke, as quick as the whip of a snake’s head. Where tumult is raised with an abruptness that is as breathtaking as the violence itself. ”
Peter Godwin, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa

“As we get ready to leave, Georgina announces that she wants to keep the kitten. But of course she can't. We walk up and down looking for its mother, calling for its siblings. But the nearby kraals are deserted, of both people and animals. And eventually we have to leave it at the gate of an empty kraal, the closest one to where it found us, hoping that this might be its home. As we start to drive away, the kitten totters down the dirt road after us, a furry ball of khaki with irregular black spots, and Georgina bursts into tears.

'Over the kitten? Really?' I ask, gesturing around the ruins of the torture base and the mass graves. 'With all of this?'

'No,' she sniffs. 'It's not just the kitten. It's everyone here. They've all been abandoned. No one gives a **** about what happened to them. They're completely alone.”
Peter Godwin, The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe

“It's always instructive to observe the life cycle of the First World aid worker. A wary enthusiasm blooms into an almost messianic sense of what might be possible. Then, as they bump up against the local cultural limits of acceptable change, comes the inevitable disappointment, which can harden into cynicism and even racism, until they are no better than the resident whites they have initially disparaged.”
Peter Godwin, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa

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