NEW BOOK: Mugabe’s Zimbabwe remembered by former child slave

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Stunning account of escape from childhood slavery
Inspiring, moving and true story of two men from opposite backgrounds reconciling their pasts
Backdrop of life in Mugabe’s brutal Zimbabwe and racist, colonial Rhodesia
A story of God’s grace and the transforming power of forgiveness

Henry Olonga, artist, musician and former Zimbabwean international cricketer

The passing of Robert Mugabe has prompted conflicting views on his legacy. Was he the heroic father of Zimbabwe or a blood-soaked despot? Best placed to judge are those who lived under his rule. Astonishment is the remarkable story of one who did and how, with a former Rhodesian from across the racial divide, he came to terms with his past – first under the colonial regime, then through the war for independence and later under the increasingly dictatorial Mugabe.

Author Graham Jones, now based in England, returns to Zimbabwe after nearly forty years in a bid to recapture his carefree colonial childhood. Here his life becomes entwined with that of Astonishment, a one-time child slave and cattle herd, now a man of influence and on a mission to revisit his own early life. As this remarkable Zimbabwean tells his tale of poverty and struggle, both men lay old ghosts to rest and the writer finally reconnects with the land of his childhood – not through the places he knew, but through the people he didn’t.

Graham says, ‘In 2008 I returned to the country in which I grew up – then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe – on a quest to recapture some elusive quality of childhood. A chance meeting with a street child at Victoria Falls led me to Astonishment who told me his amazing life story, from unwanted newborn to a career in Zimbabwe’s prison system and his pioneering work in caring for other rejected children. To research the book, I travelled with Astonishment into rural Zimbabwe so that he, like me, could retrace his roots. The result depicts two men from polar-opposite backgrounds exploring their respective pasts and relates how we both, in different ways, resolved our common quest.’

Astonishment is a moving story of race, reconciliation and God’s power to transform the most desperate of lives, set against the background of two brutal regimes. In its depiction of struggle and personal heroism, it touches on themes such as prejudice, power-politics, friendship and middle-aged nostalgia. Astonishment’s ability to rise above the obstacles in his life will appeal to readers of any faith and none. As a memoir, the book will strike chords with anyone of a certain age who has longed to recapture a lost childhood.


Astonishment by Graham Jones (ISBN: 9781912726103) is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 19th September 2019 from Christian bookshops, bookstores and online retailers. Non-fiction, 320pp, £8.99.


  • Graham Jones

    Raised in what was then Rhodesia, Graham Jones was educated in Bath, UK, from where he returned to Africa during...

  • Astonishment

    Graham Jones

    When Graham Jones returns to Zimbabwe to recapture his idyllic Rhodesian childhood, a chance encounter leads him to him to meet a one-time child slave called Astonishment. Now dedicated to helping society’s most vulnerable, Astonishment grew up...