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Podcast, Book Excerpt and Interview: Heidi Holland’s Dinner with Mugabe

Heidi HollandDinner with MugabeHeidi Holland is the first foreign journalist to interview Robert Mugabe in the past three years. She secured the interview while writing her new book, Dinner with Mugabe (available for sale from Monday, 10 March), and explained how it came about in a recent interview of her own with the BBC, which you can listen to here as a podcast.

“I’d had some personal history with Mugabe thirty years ago,” Holland says, “when he was still a freedom fighter, before he left the country to wage war against white Rhodeisa…”

Play podcast: use the widget buttons at the bottom of this post.

Visit feed: You can also play the podcast via its source feed – click here.

EXCLUSIVE: Penguin Books will bring you another Dinner with Mugabe podcast later this month, a recording taken during Holland’s one-on-one interview with the president of Zimbabwe just before Christmas 2007, featuring Mugabe’s voice and Holland’s intimate Q&A with him. Don’t miss it!

About Dinner with Mugabe & excerpt from the book

At a time when the world waits anxiously to see what will happen next in Zimbabwe – when there is little food in the country’s shops, life expectancy is plunging and Zimbabweans are fleeing repression and unemployment – this book gets to grips with the man at the helm of a corrupt regime; the man behind the monster.

“By tracking down the key figures in Mugabe’s life, Heidi Holland has come closer than anyone else to discovering what makes the old dictator tick”
– Mugabe biographer David Blair in the Daily Telegraph

The author’s tireless investigation begins with her having dinner with Mugabe the freedom fighter and ends in a searching interview with Zimbabwe’s president in December 2007, more than 30 years later.

Read an excerpt:

Robert Mugabe’s only surviving brother, Donato, (now deceased) is sitting on an upturned plastic milk crate on the veranda of his house at Kutama, about 100km southwest of Harare, the village where he and his siblings were born and where Donato has remained all his life.

He is a large, white-haired man with a lot of laughter lines on his face, but he looks decidedly wary on this occasion.

He and his wife, Evelyn, invite me indoors reluctantly. Huddled together on the sofa, they are silent and unblinking.

About the author

Heidi Holland has been a journalist and author for over thirty years. As a freelancer she has written for a wide range of international publications including the London Sunday Times, International Herald Tribune and The Guardian. Other projects have included research for leading British television documentaries.

Heidi’s previous titles, published by Penguin Books, include The Colour of Murder and From Jo’burg to Jozi.

Read an interview with Heidi Holland on Dinner with Mugabe:

Just before Robert Mugabe’s momentous escape from Rhodesia to Mozambique in 1975, he had dinner with journalist Heidi Holland. Mugabe had not been an expected guest. Rather, he was the unnamed “someone else” whom constitutional law expert and Zanu-PF sympathiser Ahrn Palley told Holland he would be bringing along for dinner.

Holland was surprised when she saw a lean, steel-faced, middle-aged man on her verandah. Here in the flesh was the man whose photograph she had published on the cover of Illustrated Life Rhodesia — the magazine she edited against the instructions of her boss and to the fury of the Rhodesian security police, who banned it. Soon after that evening, Mugabe left the country and guerrilla warfare against the Rhodesian state intensified.

“The most intimate portrait yet produced of Zimbabwe’s clever but brutal leader. Heidi Holland gets under the skin of a troubled man who turned from nationalist hero to international pariah, all but destroying his country in the process”
– Adam Roberts, The Economist.

Book Details

Author photo courtesy the Weekend Post.