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Becoming Zimbabwe. A History from the Pre-colonial Period to 2008

A History from the Pre-colonial Period to 2008

Brian Raftopoulos, Alois Mlambo

Publication Year: 2009

Becoming Zimbabwe is the first comprehensive history of Zimbabwe, spanning the years from 850 to 2008. In 1997, the then Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Morgan Tsvangirai, expressed the need for a 'more open 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 re-examination.' Becoming Zimbabwe tracks the idea of national belonging and citizenship and explores the nature of state rule, the changing contours of the political economy, and the regional and international dimensions of the country's history. In their Introduction, Brian Raftopoulos and Alois Mlambo enlarge on these themes, and Gerald Mazarire's opening chapter sets the pre-colonial background. Sabelo Ndlovu tracks the history up to WW11, and Alois Mlambo reviews developments in the settler economy and the emergence of nationalism leading to UDI in 1965. The politics and economics of the UDI period, and the subsequent war of liberation, are covered by Joesph Mtisi, Munyaradzi Nyakudya and Teresa Barnes. After independence in 1980, Zimbabwe enjoyed a period of buoyancy and hope. James Muzondidya's chapter details the transition 'from buoyancy to crisis', and Brian Raftopoulos concludes the book with an analysis of the decade-long crisis and the global political agreement which followed.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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pp. v

Tables and Maps

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pp. vi


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pp. vii


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pp. viii-ix


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pp. x-xvi

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Introduction: The Hard Road to Becoming National

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pp. xvii-xxxiv

In his autobiography, the veteran Zimbabwean nationalist leader and ‘father of the nation’, Joshua Nkomo, thanked the settler colonial state for defining, ‘once and for all, our national...

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1. Reflections on Pre-Colonial Zimbabwe, c. 850–1880s

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pp. 1-38

What we know about this period of Zimbabwean history has been under constant reinterpretation. Most of what today we call pre-colonial Zimbabwean history is a product of academic theories, and of ideas popularised during and since the nationalist struggle...

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2. Mapping Cultural and Colonial Encounters, 1880s–1930s

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pp. 39-74

This chapter attempts a broadly thematic and chronological account and analysis of the development of Western colonialism on the Zimbabwean plateau between the 1880s and the 1930s. It argues for a more nuanced understanding of the processes that characterised...

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3. From the Second World War to UDI, 1940–1965

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pp. 75-114

The period between the outbreak of the Second World War and the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith in 1965 was a significant one in Zimbabwe’s history. In these years, Rhodesia experienced...

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4. Social and Economic Developments during the UDI Period

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pp. 115-140

The trajectory of events in Zimbabwe’s history between 1965 and 1980 differed from that of most countries in Africa in a number of ways. Whereas a number of them attained their independence in the 1950s and 1960s, developments in Southern Rhodesia took...

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5. War in Rhodesia, 1965–1980

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pp. 141-166

The attempts by the Rhodesian Front (RF) government to cushion the white population against the ‘winds of change’ were complicated by the intensifying social, economic and political crises in the country. The nationalists, however, also faced hard challenges...

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6. From Buoyancy to Crisis, 1980–1997

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pp. 167-200

Zimbabwe’s post-colonial history has become the subject of many interpretations. This chapter examines the changes in the history of the country from the years of economic buoyancy and politics of reconciliation in the early 1980s, through the crisis of unity...

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7. The Crisis in Zimbabwe, 1998–2008

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pp. 201-232

From the late 1990s Zimbabwe entered a period that has come to be known generally as the ‘Crisis in Zimbabwe’.1 This upheaval consisted of a combination of political and economic decline that, while it had its origins in the long-term structural...


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pp. 233-250

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 251-252


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pp. 253-260

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781779221216
Print-ISBN-13: 9781779220837

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: b/w illustrations
Publication Year: 2009