A Fine Madness is Mashingaidze Gomo’s masterful work of great poignancy—a poetic narrative that transcends the physical battlefield to depict Africa at a postcolonial crossroads where difficult choices must be made. The writer exploits poetry’s closeness to the African oral tradition and its capacity to carry unlimited and complex semantic baggage to give a common soldier’s cosmic perspective of the African problem through a Zimbabwean prism. Flights over the theatre of war become metaphoric flights over African historical experience which time has twisted into a pattern of violence. Mercy missions are depicted as a chase after the ideal of international justice, which the double standards of the new world order have turned into an ever-receding horizon for a destitute postcolonial Africa. Concepts of responsible African leadership, sovereignty, economic independence, democracy, racism and international relations are interrogated in the light of this conviction. Rising political turbulence in Zimbabwe and the chronic instability of the Great Lakes region emerge as recurrent characteristics of the African historical context. The novel can be said to be continuing the critical tradition already established by such works as Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism and Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino & Song of Ocol. A Fine Madness was crafted from diary entries made during Gomo’s experiences of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Gomo’s first novel is a must read and features a Preface by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.