But on her return in 1988, the world has been altered. Instead of bitterness, she finds vitality and hope. "The new Zimbabwe," she says, "chaotic, ebullient, violent, full of energy, full of optimism." Six years later, this knowing, skeptical woman who has seen it all is almost transported. She finds that Zimbabwe, unlike the countries that surround it--Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi--seems to be working.
She travels the country with a group of young black men and women who are putting together an instructional book for villages and rural areas, places that remain desperately poor and backward. She admires these naive, idealistic young people, and feels privileged to be along as a kind of gray eminence. A long, comical train ride to Bulawayo with her book team becomes a metaphor for modern Zimbabwe: The trip is slow and inefficient, yes, but redeemed by goodwill and infinite good nature.
Even the whites seem different. The word we , among whites, once referred only to themselves; now, in 1988 and 1989, she says, we means Zimbabwe. She discovers a spirit of community. Some who have taken the gap have returned. The whites who have stayed are mainly farmers. Their reverence for the land has made them into custodians of their new country. But there is also trouble in paradise: Government corruption is pervasive. The comrades who fought in the bush have become crooks; Mugabe himself is insulated behind high walls and travels only in a bullet-proof limousine.