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Where We Have Hope: A Memoir of Zimbabwe

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Where We Have Hope is the gripping memoir of a young American journalist. In 1980, Andrew Meldrum arrived in a Zimbabwe flush with new independence, and he fell in love with the country and its optimism. But over the twenty years he lived there, Meldrum watched as President Robert Mugabe consolidated power and the government evolved into despotism. In May 2003, Meldrum, th ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 18th 2006 by Grove Press (first published 2004)
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3.96  · 
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 ·  294 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Ron Smith
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
In 1992, while visiting my brother in Botswana, we popped across the border to Zimbabwe for a couple of days. I recently re-read my journal from that trip. It covered what you would expect from an American in Africa: an encounter with a cackle of hyenas in our camp, elephant sightings at dusk, and the exchange rate which made our food and lodgings ultra cheap.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's leader, had already become despotic, though most of the world didn't realize it. He had sent soldiers into the r
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As one who has held partisan views to the political situation in Zimbabwe, I had to read in disbelief and shame as this book shattered most if not all of those views. The book has given me a factual glimpse and even understanding of a matter I have always wanted to be well informed about; that of Mugabe and Zimbabwe.
May 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book gives very insightful details and information about the Mugabe era Zimbabwe, how the nation has changed since being Rhodesia, and the various tensions and horrible violence that people have been living through in recent times. Written by a white journalist, it is an interesting perspective on the warmth of the people and the iron hand of the government. I loved this book.
Rigatoni Baloney
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was particularly taken by Meldrum's reflections after interviewing Ian Smith, late in the book, around page 250. Meldrum's analysis was insightful with regard to Mugabe's use of force to gain power and thus to maintain it. He wrote "Violence corrupts. No matter how just the cause, the killing of others infects the perpetrator. Mugabe paid lip service to national reconcilation in the early 1980s but when his power was challenged in 2000 he had no compunction about unleashing violence in order t ...more
Aug 19, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fellow Zimbabwephiles
Shelves: zimbabwe
Andrew Meldrum may be a little full of himself, but the book is a well-written account of the decline in Zimbabwe from the point of view of a foreign correspondent. Although I would in no way like to defend the current government, it is good to remember that there have been times/places where a journalist would not survive to write a book such as this one. I take heart in the fact that the Shona are basically kind people so that even their dictators aren't as bad as others.
Jul 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Having traveled to Zim in 2006, I saw firsthand how beautiful this country and the people of this country, truly are. It is amazing and horrifying that a place with such potential has been destroyed by one man. This book gives me the back story to the situation that Zimbabwe is in today.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'll admit to being sceptical about reading an account of Zimbabwe written by a white American, but it took me no more than about half a page to be hooked! Just goes to show my own prejudices, I suppose.
Anyway, Andrew proves in his writing that he took his adopted home country right to his heart and cares about it as much as any born and bred Zimbabwean could ever do. If you want to understand what went wrong (and why there is nevertheless lots of optimism still) in the first 20 years or so of a
Emerson Grossmith
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this about 7 years ago--crunched it in between Peter Godwin's and Alexandra Fuller's books. I think Meldrum was the last American news correspondent in Zimbabwe. Mugabe did his best to kick anyone whom he didn't like out of Zims. I highly recommend it. I shall read it again when I can find it.
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great account of the decline of Zimbabwe through 2003 because of the governmental policies installed to keep power. He has such a love of Zimbabwe and its people which I can relate to that his disappointment is reflected in his writing as these policies and crackdown on the freedom of the press directly affected him with his ultimate deportation. I read this book in 3 days once I got it from the library a very unusual feat for me when I'm back at work. If you're interested in Zimbabwe, this book ...more
May 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is the memoir of the last foreign journalist to be expelled from Zimbabwe. Andrew moved to Zimbabwe in 1980 because he wanted to observe the birth of democracy in an African nation. He starts out idealistic and falls in love with the country. He marries and stays for 20 years. He would have remained for the rest of his life if he had been able to ignore and not report on the injustices he witnessed. This book reveals the horrible extent of the ruination of all of the democratic principles t ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A really good examination of how Zimbabwe went from a hopeful, energetic pride of African independence to just another corrupt, failed state. A quote from the epilogue sums it up: "Those who use violence, even for a just cause such as ending Rhodesia's minority rule, often find it too easy to employ violence again for less noble purposes." Those less noble purposes all too often involve enriching themselves at the expense of the country. However, if this is true, then the next generation should ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Andrew Meldrum delivers a good historical perspective through his journalist narrative, staying mostly objective throughout. He steps through Zimbabwe's emergence as an elated independent state with a rebel leader to a choked nation with a paranoid despot hanging on to control, just a couple years before the 2008 elections. This book is a good primer of recent history and the players in politics now as well.
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
despite important and compelling content about Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, this did not resonate with me. A memoir to me should contain who a person really is in the experience. Meldrum seems to maintain the role of a journalist, only superficially throwing himself into the mix. Clearly his courageous love of the country is real but I did not come away feeling the spirit of it. I would have learned a lot more had it maintained my interest, but had to keep dealing with a wandering mind.
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I found this book interesting. I thought the political situation in Zimbabwe from 1980-2003 was well-covered. However, what the political situation was like pre-1980 remained a bit fuzzy to me over the course of the book. Also, I thought this book would have been greatly improved by including a lot more information about Zimbabwean culture to better bring the country and its people to life. Still a worthwhile read.
Alison Smith
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it
A grim factual account of the atrocities and torture carried out my ZANU-PF to keep tyrant Robert Mugabe in power in Zimbabwe. Meldrum was an American journo, who lived inZim for 23 years, he loved the country, but was illegally thrown out by the Mugabe Govt in 2003.He was the last foreign journo in the country. If you want to find out about a modern African despot and corruption beyond belief, read this book.
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gripping memoir of a journalist who risked it all for 23 years in Zimbabwe, in the name of democracy, human rights and free press. An admirable man, dedicated and inlove with Zimbabwe and its people. Heartbraking account of the decline of a once promising country, under the devilish Mugabe who -yes, as we speak! - still keeps the beautiful people of Zimbabwe hostage to terror and abuse.
May 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: most anyone
This book is a deeply moving (true) story of a journalist's experience living and reporting in Zimbabwe for twenty years. I cried more than once reading it, but despite the innately depressing topic, it has a constant theme (like the title suggests) of hope. I would recommend this to anyone, but especially to those who have any interest in African politics and or human rights.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Super good book. Gives a great account of one journalist's experience from Zimbabwe's independence to 2004. If you are interested in press freedom or an overview of the break down of democracy under Mugabe you should definitely give this one a read. It is very engaging and readable. I read it over 2 days while traveling.
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's bizarre to me that nearly all of what's in this book happened during my lifetime. The book ends with Andrew Meldrum's illegal deportation from Zimbabwe in the spring of 2003 -- three months before I landed in Zimbabwe as a missionary.

Not a literary masterpiece, but an eye-opening report of the current tyranny in Zimbabwe. I miss Zimbabwe...

If you read it, you will be surprised.
Pat Hardy
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa
Written by a journalist who lived for 20 years on Zambia who was moved by everyone's repeated hope for Zambia even through Mugabe and his thugs. A great picture of the debilitation of a society yet people not giving up.
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Boring, boring and yet again boring!
Writing for a newspaper is not quite the same as writing a book - while I was really interested in the topic the boredom set in fairly early and halfway through the book packed it in.
Brian Trinder
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in Zimbabwe
A very well written book from a journalist's perspective. The author tells a great story of post independance Zimbabwe from an unbiased point of view. Well worth a read if you are interested in events in post independance Zimbabwe.
Jun 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in Africa, political corruption, struggling nations...
Each chapter stands on its own in this review of journalist Andrew Meldrums years in Zimbabwe. From independence in 1979 to his expulsion in 2004, Meldrum chronicles the changes that brought Zimbabwe from a nation of hope to one of increasing despair.
May 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The director of my library knew the author's brother when she was at university, and she knows I'm interested in Zimbabwe, so she recommended it. It's another episode/perspective in Zim's heartbreaking decline...
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: africa
Good first hand account from the last foreign journalist allowed to report from Zimbabwe, until his expulsion in 2002. If you're looking for information about Zimbabwe's descent into political, economic, and legal chaos in the years after independence this fits the bill.
Oct 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Definitely an interesting insight into what has lead to Zimbabwe's recent economic and political collapse. It left me wanting a Zimbabwean's perspective.

Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-read
Andrew Meldrum tells about his time as a journalist in Zimbabwe for the 2 decades Mugabe has ruled. Nothing short but incredible!
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Meldrum tells about his time as a journalist in Zimbabwe for the 2 decades Mugabe has ruled. Nothing short but incredible
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
I learnt why Zimbabwe is how it is and I am horrified. A bit repetitive in places and a bit boggy with all the politics (I admit I skim-read a lot), but interesting.
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A reporter's account of his own harrowing experiences under Mugabe's ghastly power in Zimbabwe - and ultimate expulsion from the country. Another in my "African" reading period
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