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Manning the Nation. Father Figures in Zimbabwean Literature and Society

Kizito Z. Muchemwa, Robert Muponde

Publication Year: 2008

Gender studies in Zimbabwe have tended to focus on women and their comparative disadvantages and under-privilege. Assuming a broader perspective is necessary at a time when society has grown used to arguments rooted in binaries: colonised and coloniser, race and class, sex and gender, poverty and wealth, patriotism and terrorism, etc. The editors of Manning the Nation recognise that concepts of manhood can be used to repress or liberate, and will depend on historical and political imperatives; they seek to introduce a more nuanced perspective to the interconnectivity of patriarchy, masculinity, the nation, and its image. The essays in this volume come from well-respected academics working in a variety of fields. The ideals and concepts of manhood are examined as they are reflected in important Zimbabwean literary texts. However, if literature provides a rich vein for the analysis of masculinities, what makes this collection so interesting is the interplay of literary analysis with chapters that provide a critical examination of the ways in which ideals of manhood have been employed in, for example, leadership and the nation, as a justification for violent engagement, in the field of AIDS and HIV, etc. Manning the Nation: Father figures in Zimbabwean literature and society sets the stage for a fresh and engaging discourse essential at a time when new paradigms are needed.

Published by: African Books Collective


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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-x

First and foremost, the editors would like to express thanks to each other for manfully broaching the subject of manhood at a time when much of the enthusiasm about ‘real men’ has been depleted by the current crisis in Zimbabwean nationalism and patriarchy. Our tentative probing of the subject in August 2004 at the Zimbabwe Book Fair grounds, amid the noises...

About the Contributors

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction - Manning the Nation

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pp. xv-xxiv

Masculinity and fatherhood in the context of Zimbabwe is a field of academic study that has suffered long and unnecessary neglect. To some critics, it is a superfluous and vexatious addition to patriarchal strategies of domination that rams another painful nail into the crucified body of feminism. Gender discussions in Zimbabwe traditionally inhabit essentialist...

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I - 'Why don't you tell the children a story?': Father figures in three Zimbabwean short stories

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pp. 1-16

This chapter explores the tensions that inhabit fictional narratives of the nation in the short stories by Charles Mungoshi (‘The Sins of the Fathers’), Nevanji Madanhire (‘The Grim Reaper’s Car’), and Freedom Nyamubaya (‘That Special Place’).1 Psychic struggles mark the relations between fathers (real, putative, imaginary and symbolic) and their children, especially sons...

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2 - Killing fathers

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pp. 17-30

‘No one is taking any notice of father,’ declares Maureen Green (1976: 1) in her chapter on the decline of the father in the West. There is a sense of moral panic at the rapid decline or disappearance of the father in some western societies, where as John Gillis (2000) notes, ‘the sense of failure and loss that surrounds fatherhood is overwhelming,’ ‘with fewer men entering...

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3 - Of fathers and ancestors in Charles Mungoshi's

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pp. 31-45

Charles Mungoshi’s one English-language novel, Waiting for the Rain, although published in 1975, in the middle of the Zimbabwean War of Liberation, and set around the same time,1 ignores politics almost altogether in order to focus on a single and singularly dysfunctional family.2 Three generations of the Mandengu family live together on a homestead in...

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4 - 'Sins of the Fathers': Revealing family secrets in Mungoshi's later fiction

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pp. 46-57

A recurring theme in Mungoshi’s work since his early short stories in English has been the effect of fathering on sons. In his exploration of the relationship between adult sons and fathers in his later short fiction, Mungoshi portrays dominant fathers who turn their sons into fearful men, lacking in confidence and insecure in their work and marriages. This paper...

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5 - The strong healthy man: AIDS and self-delusion

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pp. 58-72

The nuanced presentation of conflict and perceptions of illness in selected short stories from Mungoshi's Walking Still (1997) and Kanengoni's Effortless Tears (1993), seek to establish a world in which war and violence are no longer the markers of power. The disruption of conventional gender roles is linked to the fragmentation of the nation and disillusionment with...

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6 - Fatherhood and nationhood: Joshua Nkomo and the re-imagination of the Zimbabwe nation

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pp. 73-87

This chapter explores the metamorphosis of Joshua Nkomo from ‘father of dissidents’ into the ‘founding father’ of Zimbabwe in the context of posthumous, politically motivated rewriting of the roles played in the struggle for independence by departed Zimbabwean nationalists (White, 2003). The focus is on the metamorphosis that took place in the period 1980-99, involving...

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7 - Mai Mujuru: father of the nation?

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pp. 88-101

Can ‘Mother Mujuru’ become the icon of power in Zimbabwe? Can she establish herself in the Zimbabwean political imaginary of power in a position above ‘the boys’ club’ – as a new ‘Father of the Nation’? And if so, will this in effect make her ‘one of the boys’ appearing on the political scene as ‘a man’, or can the imaginaries of power be negotiated? Are there slippages...

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8 - Masculinities, race and violence in the making of Zimbabwe

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pp. 102-114

After decades of bloody conflict, most Zimbabweans were reassured by President Robert Mugabe’s conciliatory opening speech at independence in 1980,1 when he spoke of friendship – and even love – between former enemies, promising that ‘the wrongs of the past must now stand forgiven and forgotten’ (Weiss, 1994: 5). The new government’s rhetoric was particularly...

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9 - It couldn't be anything innocent: Negotiating gender in patriarchal-racial spaces

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pp. 115-126

The Rhodesian settler project depended on the co-operation with black men, and on the Othering of them. Masculinity was a vital part of this double movement of practical proximity and narrative distance; cross-racial cooperation between men concerning the control of women, and the sexualisation of the ‘African’. The racialised discourse on ‘African’ masculinity...

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10 - 'Boys': Performing manhood in Zimbabwean drama

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pp. 127-141

This chapter examines the supremacy of masculine power and authority in Zimbabwean drama. I argue that masculinity, like imperialism, is a phallocentric, supremacist ideology that subjugates and dominates its subalterns (both male and female). Although the terms masculinity and manhood are not synonymous, their meanings are closely related in so far as they refer to...

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11 - 'A man can try': Negotiating manhoods in colonial urban spaces in Dambudzo Marechera's

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pp. 142-155

This chapter suggests that the male subject in the colonial urban space often occupied an ambivalent position on the margins, in his relationship with both the women, and the colonial urban economy. Through a reading of Dambudzo Marechera’s The House of Hunger (1978) and Yvonne Vera’s Butterfly Burning (1998), we submit that the urban space both offered men...

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12 - The nature of fatherhood and manhood in Zimbabwean texts of pre-colonial and colonial settings

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pp. 156-169

This chapter interrogates the notion of ideal fatherhood and manhood during pre-colonial and colonial Zimbabwe in novels written in Shona, Ndebele and English. However, it must be stressed from the outset that it is difficult to analyse fatherhood independently of motherhood since the two are mutually inclusive. Good fatherhood is normally attainable...

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13 - Intricate space: The father-daughter relationship in Zimbabwean literature and culture

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pp. 170-182

The father-daughter relationship has been given little attention in scholarly work on Zimbabwean literature. Rarely do critics explore this relationship in instances that can demonstrate the caring and gentle nature of the man in regard to his womenfolk. Critics tend to emphasise the antagonism – even war – between the male and the female through which patriarchy...


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pp. 183-200

Back Cover

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p. bc-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9781779221315
Print-ISBN-13: 9781779220691

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2008