Mukiwa opens with Peter Godwin, six years old, describing the murder of his neighbor by African guerillas, in 1964, pre-war Rhodesia. Godwin's parents are liberal whites, his mother a governement-employed doctor, his father an engineer. Through his innocent, young eyes, the story of the beginning of the end of white rule in Africa unfolds. The memoir follows Godwin's personal journey from the eve of war in Rhodesia to his experience fighting in the civil war that he detests to his adventures as a journalist in the new state of Zimbabwe, covering the bloody return to Black rule. With each transition Godwin's voice develops, from that of a boy to a young man to an adult returning to his homeland. This tale of the savage struggle between blacks and whites as the British Colonial period comes to an end is set against the vividly painted background of the myserious world of South Africa.
In Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, Peter Godwin, a journalist for the London Sunday Times, recalls his privileged childhood growing up in white-ruled Rhodesia, his unwitting participation in the savage status quo and his later efforts to support a black-ruled Zimbabwe. After being drafted by the army to suppress black unrest, he escaped to England and attended university. Upon his return, he found a country rife with ethnic conflict, anger and shame, yet risked his life to expose numerous injustices before he was forced to flee the country. Later, as a journalist, he witnessed not only the government's massacres of ethnic minorities but the gradual settlement into peace.