Books Rhodesia forbade my parents to read

Tinashe Mushakavanhu
3 min readAug 1, 2016

I became a prodigious reader from a very young age because my mother was one. For many years she worked in a hospital as an administrator and used to buy at least two paperbacks a week. Reading, therefore, had an integral part in our family as a source of enjoyment. But I have always wondered what it was like to be young and black growing up in a racist Rhodesia?

My knowledge of the black experience in Rhodesia comes mainly from reading the early writings of Dambudzo Marechera, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Charles Mungoshi, Shimmer Chinodya, Stanley Nyamfukudza, Wilson Katiyo, Yvonne Vera etc.

In Rhodesia black people were supposed to read only what they were officially allowed. They saw and heard on radio and TV only what the white colonial government wanted them to know. There was a massive brainwashing campaign to maintain the status quo. While most of black Africa was going through a wave of decolonization, Rhodesia remained in a chokehold by a stubborn group of whites.

I have been re-reading Julie Frederikse’s None but Ourselves: Masses vs Media in the Making of Zimbabwe and never stopped being intrigued by a list of books that were once banned in Rhodesia between 1959 and 1979, books that my parents were not allowed to read as young black people in Rhodesia for whatever reasons.

The Gospel According to the Ghetto — Canaan Banana

Trout Fishing in America — Richard Brautigan

Black Power — Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton

The Joy of Sex — Alex Comfort, MD

Confessions of a Babysitter — Rosie Dixon

Black Skins, White Masks — Frantz Fanon

The Rolling Stone Rock ‘n Roll Reader — Ben Fong-Torres

Marxism in the 20th Century — Roger Garauda

The Blacks: A Clown Show — Jean Genet

The Female Eunuch — Germaine Greer

Bolivian Diary — Ernesto (‘Che’) Guevara

The Communists and Chinese Peasant Rebellion — James Harrison

Three Negro Plays — Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones and Lorraine Hansberry

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson — George Jackson

Visions of Cody — Jack Kerouac

The Painted Bird — Jerzy Kozinski

An African Bourgeoisie — Leo Kuper

Nine African Stories — Doris Lessing

Why Are We in Vietnam? — Norman Mailer

No Easy Walk to Freedom — Nelson Mandela

The Black Panthers — Gene Marine

The Fight for Zimbabwe: The Armed Conflict in Southern Africa since UDI — Kees Maxey

South Africa: The Peasants’ Revolt — Govan Mbeki

Jack the Bear — Dan McCall

Black Spring — Henry Miller

Sexual Politics — Kate Millet

Rhodesia: The Struggle for a Birthright — Eshmael Mlambo

The Struggle for Mozambique — Eduardo Mondlane

Coming of the Dry Season — Charles Mungoshi

Rhodesian Black Behind Bars — Didymus Mutasa

Zimbabwe — Solomon Mutswairo

Fundamentals of Guerrilla Warfare — Abdul Haris Nasution

Class Struggle in Africa — Kwame Nkurumah

Kiss me Goodnight, Sergeant Major: The Songs and Ballads of World War II — Martin Page (editor)

Black Fire! — Michael Raeburn

Everything you always wanted to know about Sex — David R Reuben, MD

The Adventurers — Harold Robbins

Black Gold — Clint Rockman

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa — Walter Rodney

Portnoy’s Complaint — Philip Roth

Origins of Rhodesia — Stanlake Samkange

Black Orpheus — Jean-Paul Sartre

The Political Thoughts of Mao Tse-Tung — Stuart R Schram

History of Torture Throughout the Ages — George Ryley Scott

Crisis in Rhodesia — Nathan Shamuyarira

Women Without Men — Jessica Simmons

War of the Flea — Robert Taber

The University and Revolution — Gary R. Weaver and James H. Weaver (editors)

The Rhodesian Problem: A Documentary Record 1923–1973 — Elaine Windrich

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test — Tom Wolfe

The Black Death — Philip Ziegler