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Do ‘Zimbabweans’ Exist?

Trajectories of Nationalism, National Identity Formation and Crisis in a Postcolonial State


Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

This book examines the triumphs and tribulations of the Zimbabwean national project, providing a radical and critical analysis of the fossilisation of Zimbabwean nationalism against the wider context of African nationalism in general. The book departs radically from the common ‘praise-texts’ in seriously engaging with the darker aspects of nationalism, including its failure to create the nation-as-people, and to install democracy and a culture of human rights. The author examines how the various people inhabiting the lands between the Limpopo and Zambezi Rivers entered history and how violence became a central aspect of the national project of organising Zimbabweans into a collectivity in pursuit of a political end.


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Acknowledgements ix


Acknowledgements It is difficult for me to retrace the whole history of the writing of this book with precision due to its long gestation. My intellectual mentors Terence Ranger, Ngwabi Bhebe, Alois Mlambo, Brian Raftopoulos, Joseph Mutisi, Kenneth Manungo, Martin Rupiya, and Major Agrippa Gava deserve special mention for supporting me in various ways as I journeyed into the world of academia. My colleagues and friends: James Muzondidya, Sibongile Mhlaba, Josephine Nhongo-Simbanegavi, Munyaradzi Mus- honga, Gerald Mazarire, and Tapiwa Zimudzi, with whom I worked in the 1990s at the University of Zimbabwe, were always supportive. God- frey Ncube, Peter Mayavo, Terence Mashingaidze, and Finex Ndhlovu at Midlands State University generously shared with me their knowledge of political dynamics in Zimbabwe. Iain Edwards has been behind me in all my research endeavours that culminated in this book when I worked with him at Monash University from 2005 to 2007. Eliakim Sibanda provided some comments on the early draft of this book, and Sam Moyo read parts of this work and offered useful comments on how I could integrate class analysis as another way of understanding contemporary history and politics in Zimbabwe. Kudzai Matereke was very kind in also reading the drafts, and provided useful comments. I must not leave out Wendy Willems who generously read a number of the draft chapters and offered helpful suggestions. And it will be amiss of me if I do not express my gratitude to my undergraduate stu- dents at Midlands State University’s Department of History...

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