Becoming Zimbabwe: A History From The Pre-Colonial Period to 2008 - Edited by Brian Raftopoulos & Alois Mlambo

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In 1997, the then secretary of the ZCTU, Morgan Tsvangirai, expressed the need for a 'more opan and critical process of writing history in Zimbabwe. The history of a nation-in-the-making should not be reduced to a selective heroic tradition, but should be a tolerant and continuing process of questioning and examination.'
Becoming Zimbabwe tracks the idea of national belonging and citizenship and explores the nature of state rule, the changing contours of political economy, and the general international dimensions of Zimbabwe's history.
With contributions from Brian Raftopoulos and Alois Mlambo, Gerald Mazarire and Sabele Ndlovu, Joseph Mtisi, Munyaradzi, Teresa Barnes and James Muzondidya, Becoming Zimbabwe is the first comprehensive history of country, spanning the years from 850 to 2009.

ISBN: 978177922




Chapter 1
Pre-colonial Zimbabwe
Gerald Chikozho Mazarire

This opening chapter reconsiders orthodox views describing the development of societies in Zimbabwe prior to colonial rule. These societies did not all move progressively northwards leaving behind a depopulated southern frontier. They should not be treated as if they were a homogenous people who split into various groups through fission. This can be understood by an examination of their origins and identity over time, and through spatial distribution and interactions. The combined use of local sources including linguistics and ethnography renders the term ‘Shona’ anachronistic. It offers a description of how these people viewed themselves rather than how others perceived them. Instead of confirming ‘new-comer’ groups consolidated in the early 19th century, or those re-organised by the colonial state, we investigate age-old and ubiquitous indicators of the existence of autochthonous groups such as the ‘Nyai’ and ‘Gova’. We argue that they should form the basis of any serious analysis of pre-colonial Zimbabwe. Sometimes ethnic identity did have environmental or political origins and this is demonstrated without necessarily evoking any form of ‘determinism’. The emergence of leaders and their clients is carefully traced into these varied environments until a political culture of Zimbabwean chieftaincies, recognisable today, emerged. This first chapter also demonstrates how class dynamics permeated both the local and broader levels of society.

Chapter 2
Mapping Cultural and Colonial Encounters in Zimbabwe, 1880s-1930s
Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

This chapter is focused on an important transitional period in Zimbabwean history stretching from the 1880s to the ends of the 1930s. It examines complex encounters between the indigenous peoples and the various agents of colonialism ranging from missionaries, traders, hunters, concession-seekers and white settlers. The period was transitional in many senses. Besides inaugurating various political, economic and social processes, it was characterised by the fading of the pre-colonial world and the unfolding of early colonial modernity albeit marked by disjunctures and continuities. Chapter 2 begins with a discussion of the agents of colonialism particularly the embers of Christianity as a socio-political process that sought to transform African consciousness and win African souls. It proceeds to analyse the activities of concession-seekers and their imperial-minded sponsors that put pressure on African leaders to sign some of the most fraudulent concessions such as the Rudd Concession of 1888, which was used to justify the occupation, conquest and colonisation of Zimbabwe in the 1890s. We move further to analyse the violent conquest of the African people together with African responses in the period 1890-97. The final section of this chapter deals with the construction of the early Rhodesian colonial state via such overlapping processes as peasantisation, criminalisation of inter-racial sexualities, proletarianisation, and dispossession of Africans that culminated in the embourgeoisement of the early white settlers. It ends with a discussion of the various ways in which Africans responded to the interventions of colonial processes including urbanisation with a view to understand the early development of African political consciousness prior to the rise of modern mass nationalism after the Second World War.

Chapter 3
From the Second World War To UDI, 1940-1965
A. S. Mlambo

Chapter 3 traces the history of Zimbabwe between the Second World War and the declaration of UDI in 1965 when the country experienced far-reaching economic, demographic, social and political changes. It considers the gradual process of transformation in the political consciousness and self-perception of the African population, which was reflected in the change of attitude towards white colonial rule that culminated in the demand for one man one vote. It highlights the major themes and debates that have dominated scholarly writings on the period in order to contextualise the historical forces that have shaped the trajectory of Zimbabwe’s recent historical experience as well as to evaluate the nature of extant knowledge on Zimbabwe in the period.

Chapter 4
Social and economic developments in Rhodesia during the UDI period
Joseph Mtisi, Munyaradzi Nyakudya, and Teresa Barnes

The chapter traces the socio-economic developments in Rhodesia during the UDI period. It analyses how the Rhodesia Front (RF) government’s UDI ‘project’ shattered the African nationalists’ goal of attaining political independence as happened in most African countries. This objective clashed with the long-held aspirations of the generality of the white section of Rhodesian society to safeguard its privileged position. It is argued that while the contests over nationhood, a recurrent feature of the UDI era, appear to be between the Africans and the white section of the Rhodesian society, they were complicated in many ways and transcended the citizen/subject binary. It is shown that the political struggles of the period, often crossing the racial divide, were mainly about the social and economic interests of the various groups that formed the Rhodesian society. Notwithstanding the efforts of the RF government to create a sense of nationhood among whites, Rhodesian white society was divided along class and economic interests, among other variables. As the conflict intensified, some members of the white population were, by the mid-1970s, preaching a different gospel from that of the RF, admitting that majority rule was inevitable. At the same time, a number of Africans had, for economic and other reasons, defended white settler hegemony as soldiers in the Rhodesian army, Selous Scouts and policemen. The chapter further analyses the measures put in place by the RF government as part of efforts to cushion white society in the wake of sanctions imposed on the country following the UDI. Although these measures were, in the short term, successful, the success was not without its own costs. By the mid-1970s, a combination of factors, chief of which was the intensifying civil war, resulted in an economic decline that adversely affected the many facets of Rhodesian society.

Chapter 5
War in Rhodesia, 1965-1980
Joseph Mtisi, Munyaradzi Nyakudya, and Teresa Barnes

Chapter 5 discusses the complexities of the civil war/liberation struggle fought in Rhodesia in the wake of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by the Rhodesia Front government. It demonstrates how the crisis in the country escalated as opposition to white rule became increasingly militant with young recruits leaving for military training. Early guerrilla incursions resulted in such battles as that at Chinhoyi in 1966 and the Wankie Campaign in 1967-68, and by the early 1970s, a full-scale guerrilla war had engulfed the country. It is argued that this was a multi-layered struggle consisting of various other ‘struggles within the struggle’ which the chapter attempts to untangle, and rejects the ‘myth’ that it was a purely racial war. Among other things, some of these conflicts were due to personality clashes, class and ideological differences, gender and ethnic tensions. The chapter also discusses the key developments in the final phase of the war such as the indiscriminate bombings on ZANLA and ZIPRA refugee camps in Mozambique and Zambia respectively, and the guerrillas’ use of more sophisticated weapons like the surface to air missiles used to bring down a civilian Air Rhodesia plane in 1978. An analysis is made of the ‘motivations’ for the warring parties agreeing on the unsatisfactory peace agreement at the Lancaster House Conference in 1979, resulting in general elections that led to independence on 18 April, 1980.

Chapter 6
From Buoyancy to Crisis: Zimbabwe, 1980-1997
James Muzondidya

This chapter critically examines the main events and processes evolving and shaping Zimbabwe during the first two decades of independence. It mainly focuses on the challenges, complexities and contradictions confronting the country in its formative years as a post-colonial state. The chapter argues that Zimbabwe initially made notable progress in dealing with some of its numerous challenges inherited at independence, which included restructuring the racially divided and regionally imbalanced colonial political economy and democratising the inherited authoritarian colonial state and its institutions. For instance, the country made some limited economic and social progress in infrastructural development, education and health delivery as well as improvements in rural agricultural output in the early years of the first decade of independence. Some of these advances, such as those made in education, had a lasting legacy extending to this day. However, most of the gains made were short-term and welfarist. Many of the adopted programmes were unsustainable and failed to adequately address the serious political, social and economic challenges in the country, especially around the unresolved problems of land and economic resource ownership, justice and equity, political inclusiveness and inclusive citizenship. Because of a number of both internal and external factors, including the pressures from the international economy and apartheid South Africa, there was little radical reform or major structural change to the structures of the inherited state, including the colonial economy, and the legacy of economic inequality. Many of the underlying tensions and divisions based on race, ethnicity, regionalism, class and gender which were inherited from the colonial past were thus not resolved in the first decades of independence. These unresolved tensions and divisions widened towards the late 1980s and beginning of the 1990s when the economy began to contract seriously and the government increasingly struggled to meet its delivery targets as social problems for the poor began to mount.

Chapter 7
The Post-Colonial Year: Political Crisis, State and International Politics
Brian Raftopoulos

The chapter examines the emergence of what has come to be known as the Crisis in Zimbabwe between the years 1998-2008, and attempts to address the following areas: The multi-layered political, social and economic aspects of the crisis; the social forces that have emerged and the ways in which they have been shaped; the changes in the Zimbabwean state; the contestations over nation and citizenship; the dramatic decline of the economy and its impact both in the country and the region; the regional and international dimensions of the Crisis. It highlights he major themes that have emerged in the historiography and political analysis of this period and draws out the broader significance of the Zimbabwean situation for African states in crisis.