For 37 years, since independence from British rule, the story of Zimbabwe had been dominated by one man: Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the liberator turned tyrant who won a war for freedom, but then led his country into a ditch. By November 2017, however, the only story in Zimbabwe was of palace intrigue: the game of thrones within the ruling party to succeed the nonagenarian President. Mugabe had never anointed a successor – having rivals fight each other had kept the scale balanced in his favour – but time was running out. He was no spring chicken (he fell asleep in meetings, slurred lines in his speeches), and the party’s congress, at which a new VP, and thus a certain successor, would be chosen, was to take place in early December. National elections loomed in 2018. If you wanted the throne, it was time to make your move. Two factions vied for power, both with names that sounded like a reality TV show. The First Lady’s group was known as Generation 40 – G40 – a reference to the youthful demographics of the country: G40 were the young ones, the under 40s, unencumbered by history. The term was coined by Grace’s Svengali, a tall, slim, University of Southern California- educated professor and master tactician named Jonathan Moyo. A former Information Minister and a brilliant media manipulator, Moyo had fallen out with the Mugabes frequently, yet somehow always found his way back into their good books. Grace also had a charismatic Young Turk named Saviour ‘Tyson’ Kasukuwere in her corner, a former state security agent turned politician with a trombone voice, a pugnacious style and a devoted youth following. They had the ruling party’s Women’s League and the Youth League on their side too, and whatever they lacked in experience, they made up for in energy, commitment and a fanatical devotion to the President. ED’s faction, on the other hand, was known as Lacoste, after the French fashion brand with the crocodile logo – a reference to his nickname. Lacoste represented the old guard, the establishment. The base of ED’s support were the war veterans who had liberated the country from white rule, and who, for so long, had been the enforcers of Mugabe’s power. But the war had ended 37 years previously, the country’s youth had no memory of it and the veterans were dying out. True, he was also said to have the support of the military – he had served as Defence Minister, and was close friends with the Commander of the Defence Forces, General Constantino Chiwenga – but when had the military ever gone against Mugabe, at least publicly? It was unheard of. Even the name Lacoste seemed retro and dated, unlike the crisp, clean Twitter-friendly G40. And so it was that on the first weekend of November, the two factions made their move. One side heckled and booed; the other threatened violent death in the name of God. It was no contest. On Monday, November 6th the President made his choice: he unceremoniously red ED and sided with his wife.

Think Less Learn More


by Dr Srini Pillay
B Format Paperback
One Friday night in 1983, a man and his girlfriend were driving down California Highway 128 from Berkeley to Mendocino where he was building a cabin in the woods. It was late at night, it was a long drive, and he was feeling a little tired and spacey. As his girlfriend dozed in the passenger seat, the man’s mind wandered back to his work, in his case research on DNA. As he put it, “My little silver Honda’s front tyres pulled us through the mountains. My hands felt the road and the turns. My mind drifted back into the laboratory. DNA chains coiled and floated. Lurid blue and pink images of electric molecules injected themselves somewhere between the mountain road and my eyes.” Like an enthusiastic puppy just unleashed, his thoughts darted to and fro, mulling, comparing and connecting fragments of information. Suddenly, something new fell into place for him. He pulled off to the side of the road—mile marker 46.58 to be exact, he found himself noticing—and began to connect the dots of his thoughts. Science would never be the same again. That man was Dr. Kary Banks Mullis—a biochemist who ten years later would win the Nobel Prize for chemistry for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction, also known as PCR. A way of making synthetic DNA, this has proven crucial in a wide range of disciplines, from obstetrics to forensics. It was on that restless, late-night journey that his mind collected ideas and put them together in new and strange ways. Later he would sort and hone what his wandering mind had pooled before him. The magic of that process—both the collecting and the sorting—is the stuff of this book.