Albert Russo
"Art is but a moment of happiness, it is like a lightning of bliss cleaving the never-ending horrors of our world."

In the Jewish heart of Black Africa

My parents and I, though supporting black majority rule, remained passive in the fight for independence. We did not vote for Robert Mugabe, since we felt that the man, albeit an erudite who claimed to be a fervent Christian and had a university education, was sleazy and deceiving. We simply didn’t trust him, in spite of his soothing words concerning the European population, remaining an important asset for the development and the future of Rhodesia.  Actually, we were blaming Ian Smith and his radicalism for Mugabe, being democraticlly elected as the first president of the new Zimbabwe.  

Robertino, to our sorrow – we feared for his life -, had joined three years before, the forces of Josuah Nkomo, the latter’s opponent, who was a Ndebele, a member of the country’s second most important tribe.  More than once did he come back home wounded twice seriously.  But, in spite of our warnings and recriminations, the moment he felt better, he would return to what he called his ‘patriotic duties’.  My parents, of course, sent him away with their blessings, wishing him to return unharmed.  He would regularly send us news through messengers, but never divulged where he was being positioned.  As I have already said, the media reported the events scantily, especially when they involved Ian Smith’s fighters, as for the opposing side, their losses appeared in the papers, but never in detail, so that we depended solely of Robertino’s messengers.  When the gaps widened between two reports, especially during the weeks preceding the declaration of independence, we would hold our breath, hoping for a positive outcome.

We joined in the independence celebrations with tainted enthusiasm, for, seeing Mugabe’s attitude, we now sincerely believed that the transition would come without hurdles or, God forbid, the chaos that had plunged the former Belgian Congo and its mainly indigenous inhabitants into Dante’s hell, with the return of all those maladies that had disappeared from the country durting the last half century, the mass rapes, a new phenomenon we hadn’t been used to, the ethnic feuds that didn’t seem to stop, with its ongoing killings and the displacement of millions of people, not knowing which place would be their new home.  Ah, at last, we had a civilized man at the helm of beautiful Zimbabwe.  Hadn’t Julius Nyerere the president of Tanzania pronounced the following words to his friend on that fatidic 18 April 1980: “You have inherited a jewel, keep it that way!”  And we were certain that he would heed the advice of his wise and knowledgable elder. 

Weeks went by without a sign from my brother.  No news …. what news?   Every day my mom would go and consult the lists of missing men at the former war office, her heart pounding and jumping in her ribs to the point of hurting every time she read the names of the dead freedom fighters.  No, thank goodness, he wasn’t among them. But what next time?

Three more months of anguish, that saw my parents fight among themselves, my mother flaring up at her husband’s slightest expression of doubt which she mistook for a criticism or worse a remonstration.  She was losing weight and started sleeping on her own in the guest room.  I would hear her sob when I got up in the middle of the night, to go to the toilet.  I would then knock at the door, but she would immediately rebuke: “Leave me alone with my pain, you heartless lot!”

She included both my father and me in her recriminations, which I found totally unjust, for we in our way mourned the absence of Robertino, as much as she did, but she failed to see it.  The atmosphere at home became unbearable and I started to desert our house as often as possible to avoid seeing them both at loggerhead. This wasn’t a home I would wish to live anymore.  As soon as I got my first job as a chartered account, I moved out and rented a small flat at a walking distance from my grandparents house on Fife avenue.  There at least I knew that I would be welcome with open arms.  


The force that kills is blind

And the earth, in the hollow of its plains,

In the heart of its nights,

Warms the seed

Expects the fruit

The animal is just

Hungry to live

Only man gets inebriated

With what he destroys.

Maurice Boucher, French poet and Germanist (1885-1977)Albert RUSSO




Au cœur juif de l’Afrique noire

Le roman se situe dans le cadre de l’évolution des sociétés tournées vers l’ouverture au monde, les échanges culturels, en lien avec les progrès techniques et scientifiques.

Les données historiques, impliquant la décolonisation, sont aussi mises en valeur et permettent de bien cerner les mouvements et les décors que découvrent à chaque page une enfance et une jeunesse riche de sa spontanéité et de ses espérances.

Il aborde aussi le sujet du respect d’autrui, du racisme qui peut apparaître pour certains comme ordinaire et banalisé, mais aussi atteindre son paroxysme.

À travers son livre, l’auteur se positionne comme citoyen du monde et homme de paix. Son humanisme ne l’empêche pas d’être touché par les attitudes irrespectueuses, voire agressives qui atteignent sa sensibilité, et qui, dans certaines situations, constituent une atteinte à son intégrité et à sa chair.

Il livre ses ressentis, ses impressions, ses réflexions, avec sincérité et authenticité. Il est à la fois acteur et témoin. Témoin d’une jeunesse qui se déroule dans un monde africain en pleine mutation. Témoin de la vie d’une famille qui s’intègre et suit son chemin dans un environnement complexe et où l’identité juive garde son entière place. 

D’une écriture, qui inclue des passages poétiques dans un récit bien mené, il sait donner du rythme à l’enchainement des périodes et des évènements.

Dans son ouvrage, nous discernons qu’Albert Russo est un homme de cœur qui aime le continent africain. Il porte dans sa plume les valeurs universelles de respect et de tolérance. 



La force qui tue s’ignore

Et la terre, au creux de ses plaines

Au cœur de ses nuits

Réchauffe la graine

Espère le fruit

L’animal lui-même

N’a faim que de vivre

L’homme seul s’enivre

À ce qui détruit.

Maurice Boucher, poète français et germaniste (1885-1977)Prefazione 



Il romanzo si colloca nel quadro dell’evoluzione delle società rivolte all’apertura al mondo, degli scambi cultura- li, in parallelo con l’evoluzione tecnica e scientifica. 

I dati storici, che implicano la decolonizzazione, sono altrettanto valorizzati e permettono di ben individuare i movimenti e gli scenari che rivelano ad ogni pagina un’in- fanzia e una giovinezza ricca delle sue spontaneità e delle sue speranze. 

L’autore affronta anche la questione del rispetto altrui, del razzismo, che per qualcuno può apparire come ordina- rio e banalizzato, ma anche raggiungere il suo parossismo. 

Attraverso il suo libro, Albert Russo si pone come cit- tadino del mondo e uomo di pace. Il suo umanesimo non gli impedisce d’essere colpito dagli atteggiamenti non ri- spettosi, cioè aggressivi, che feriscono la sua sensibilità e che, in alcune situazioni, costituiscono un attacco alla sua integrità e alla sua carne. 

Egli libera i suoi sentimenti, le sue impressioni, le sue riflessioni con sincerità e autenticità. È al tempo stesso at- tore e testimone. Testimone di una gioventù che si dispiega in un mondo africano in piena mutazione. Testimone della vita di una famiglia che si integra e segue la propria strada in un ambiente complesso e dove l’identità ebraica conser- va tutto il suo ruolo. Con una scrittura che racchiude passaggi di poesia in un racconto ben condotto, l’autore sa dare il ritmo al concate- namento dei periodi e degli avvenimenti. Nella sua opera vediamo distintamente un uomo di cuore che ama il continente africano e nella sua penna gli univer- sali valori di rispetto e tolleranza. 



La forza che uccide s’ignora

E la terra, nelle cavità delle sue pianure Nel cuore delle sue notti

Riscalda il seme

Si aspetta il frutto

L’animale stesso

Ha fame solo di vivere

L’uomo solo si inebria

A ciò che distrugge. 

Maurice Boucher poeta francese e germanista (1885–1977) 

About the Author
Albert Russo who has published worldwide over 85 books of poetry, fiction and essays (35) and photography (50), in both English and French, his two mother tongues, and sometimes in Italian, (Italian being his 'paternal' tongue) - he also speaks Spanish and German and still has notions of Swahili -, is the recipient of many awards,such as The New York Poetry Forum and Amelia (CA) Awards, The American Society of Writers Fiction Award, The British Diversity Short Story Award, The AZsacra International Poetry Award (Taj Mahal Review - US$ 500), the Books & Authors Award, several Writer’s Digest poetry and fiction Awards (winner and finalist), aquillrelle Awards, the Prix Colette and the Prix de la Liberté, among others. His work has been translated into about 15 languages in 25 countries, on the five continents. He has co-published Gaytude with Adam Donaldson Powell, which won Best Gay Book in the USA. Albert Russo’s major books are the AFRICAN QUATUOR (AQ), his memoir CALL ME CHAMELEON (CMC), his humorous ZAPINETTE Series (Zapy), GOSH ZAPINETTE, the first ever series of global Jewish humor, his books of stories and of poetry encompassing 40 years of writing, entitled: THE CROWDED WORLD OF SOLITUDE, vol. 1 -CWS1 (the stories and essays) and THE CROWDED WORLD OF SOLITUDE, vol. 2 (the poems) CWS2 + the two big books dedicated to his beloved mother Sarah Russo (SR) + about 50 books of photos. His definitive biography penned by the Norwegian African-American writer, poet and artist Adam Donaldson Powell, UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS OF ALBERT RUSSO was released by l’Aleph (November 2017), Wisehouse Publishing. A humanist with roots in Central, Southern Africa, and the Mediterranean, he has been acclaimed by James Baldwin, Edmund White, Martin Tucker, Douglas Parmee of Oxford University, Joseph Kessel, Pierre Emmanuel, both of the Académie Française, among many other literary authorities, as well as by his African peers, Chinua Achebe among them. Albert Russo was also a member of the 1996 jury for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature which often leads to the Nobel Prize of Literature. Latest Prize: Best 2013 Unicef Short Story award in defense of childhood worldwide, for Revenge by proxy / Vengeance par procuration.  His 50-odd books of photography have garnered awards in the USA, UK, Russia, France, etc. Some of his work has been exhibited in the Louvre Museum, at the Espace Pierre Cardin, both in Paris, in Times Square, New York, at the Museum of Photography in Lausanne, Switzerland, in Art Berlin, in Tokyo, in Moscow, etc. The former Mayor of the Big Apple, Mr Bloomberg, has lauded his two photo books on Paris and New York. Some of his novels and memoirs have also been filmed in English, with videos 90 and 100 minutes long. Latest award: I have just received the following award. "Dear Albert, It is with great pleasure to announce that you have been selected as a Book Excellence Award Finalist for the following book: 'GOSH ZAPINETTE! the first ever series of global humor’ (770 pages). There were hundreds of entries from around the world and 'GOSH ZAPINETTE! the first ever series of global humor' was selected for its high-quality writing, design and market appeal. Congratulations. The Book Excellence Award Committee.” The Book Excellence Awards Advantage. More than just an awards competition, the Book Excellence Awards provides authors and publishers with extended support and resources on topics such as publishing, marketing, writing, publicity and social media. The Book Excellence Awards is a smart investment on your publishing journey and the results and benefits will last a lifetime! Literary website: - "Art is but a moment of happiness, it is like a lightning of bliss cleaving the never-ending horrors of our world." Albert Russo “Inspiration is like delicious food that your taste buds remember, or a perfume you have long forgotten and whose whiff suddenly brushes your nostrils again, giving you pangs of nostalgia.” Albert Russo
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