Back to Index
Oldest U.S. book club honors 11 graduates in Zimbabwe
November 02, 2012
A 2011 partnership
between the U.S. Embassy in Harare and the oldest continuous book
club in American, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle
(CLSC), on Friday honored 11 individuals who read 12 CLSC books
as members of the inaugural Zimbabwean CLSC club.
"The core concept of the CLSC book club is that adults should
never stop learning," said Sharon Hudson-Dean, Counselor for
Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy and a 2012 graduate. "Our
education should not stop at the last year of schooling but we should
seek to expand our intellectual world every day." Hudson-Dean
went on to note that the CLSC-Z book discussions also serve to build
bridges of understanding between people by allowing them to share
opinions and perspectives on the books in an uninhibited forum.
"Whenever we meet, it's not like discussing the book
and leaving it there, leaving the words on the page. It's
like trying to extract the meaning, to put it in our context,"
said Reverend Samuel Sifelani, a minister in the Anglican Church.
The graduates are Rabison Shumba, a motivational speaker; author
Virginia Phiri; Reverend Samuel Sifelani; journalist Masimba Biriwasha;
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga;
Ettrage Tawatya, a security guard; Phillip Tawanda Dube, now studying
at Bates College in the U.S.; and Mbizo Chirasha, a poet. The graduating
class also included U.S. Embassy officials Rebecca Zeigler-Mano,
Ambassador Charles Ray, Deputy Chief of Mission David Abell, and
Counselor for Public Affairs Sharon Hudson-Dean.
Launched in 1878 at the Chautauqua Institution (http://www.ciweb.org/)
in western New York, the CLSC is considered to be the oldest continuous
book club in the United States. It began with two chief aims: the
promotion of habitual reading and study in nature, art, science
and in secular and sacred literature; and the encouragement of lifelong
individual study. Today, the CLSC represents the standard by which
all other book clubs, literary circles and study groups are measured.
The historic partnership between the United States Embassy Harare
and the Chautauqua Institution started in March 2011 with an initial
membership of 30 individuals drawn from various parts of Zimbabwean
society including government, churches, private sector and youth.
The Chautauqua Institution waived membership dues for CLSC-Z members
and agreed to certify the members upon completion of the required
set of 12 books. Members were given Kindle electronic readers purchased
with funding from the U.S. State Department's Innovation Fund
and loaded with the selected books on the circle's reading
list. Meetings were held every two months to discuss the books.
"It was fun. It's something that I would encourage other
people to get involved in," said Phiri, an author and a professional
accountant. Phiri cited Hell Hound on His Trail: the Assassination
of Martin Luther King Jr by Hampton Sides as one of her favorite
books in the list. "When Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated,
I was a little girl and we were all very sad. So when this opportunity
came, I took my time -- word for word, page for page -- and really
I wanted to understand. Reading the book actually made a difference.
I have now understood what happened."
"I personally move around with my Kindle electronic reader
from time to time," said Rabison Shumba, a motivational speaker.
"I no longer have time wasted because anytime I can read from
book list includes Harvard professor Michael Sandel's Justice:
What's the Right Thing to Do?; Stephen Schlesinger's
Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations: A story of
Superpowers, Secret Agents, Wartime Allies and Enemies and Their
Quest for a Peaceful World; Robin Wright's The Last Great
Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran; and Mark Bowden's
Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (Somalia)
The U.S. Embassy American Resources Center in Harare (Public Affairs
Section, Eastgate) and the Bulawayo American Corner (Bulawayo Public
Library) now have a large collection of hard-copy CLSC books and
welcome members of the public to join the reading club. CLSC-Z members
who read twelve books from the collection receive a CLSC graduation
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.