THE RIDDLE OF VIOLENCE by Kenneth Kaunda

THE RIDDLE OF VIOLENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Kaunda led Zambia to independence as a Gandhian disciple of non-violence; but when the struggle for self-determination heated up in neighboring Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, he supported the armed insurgents. And it is to reconcile these two positions that he seems, at first, to be writing--in distinguishing between the prophet and the politician, in insisting that ""politics is the only effective way of getting certain things done"" and that statecraft presupposes compulsion, ""including, if necessary, violence."" But rather abruptly the ground shifts; this text, we're told by editor Morris, was compiled from notes Kaunda made over the years--years during which he apparently soured on pacifists and pacifist arguments. The contention that ""wars never settle anything"" comes in for a particular drubbing: in Africa, writes Kaunda, no citizen under a black government, however autocratic or inefficient, would exchange it for white colonial rule. Apropos of the struggle in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Kaunda repeatedly twits British P.M. Harold Wilson for not applying force quickly and decisively when Ian Smith unilaterally declared the country's independence to preserve white rule;Wilson kept his own hands unbloodied, Kaunda avers, at the cost of ten years of bloodshed. But Kaunda also impugns the notion that all revolutions--and especially, today, all black revolutions--are ipso facto good: ""the war to end all wars."" For a politician who is also something of a prophet, he is exceptional in his willingness to recognize that some positions are inherently irreconcilable. But he is convinced, now, that ""chains are worse than bayonets."" Sharp, often pained reflections, somewhat repetitive but never mere rhetoric.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row