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259 Chapter 11 Exploring Zimbabwe’s Liberation Heritage: An Assessment of the Potential of “Protected Villages” as a Significant Heritage Typology Godhi Bvocho & Farai Mudododzi Chabata “Time did not ever end because endings were always also beginnings, and new life always emerged from death” – (Michael Rowlands 1993) Introduction Zimbabwe’s liberation heritage is diverse in nature and its typologies range from people, places and stories as well as memorial sites related to the struggle for independence. Conservation efforts have largely focused on both sites and burials but little attention has been given to ‘protected villages’ (also known as keeps) as an invaluable heritage typology requiring conceptualisation, research as well as preservation for posterity. There is a conspicuous dearth of literature on issues concerning identification, documentation, conservation, and presentation of the material remains, spatial landmarks as well as oral testimonies of the liberation struggle. Whereas this is taking shape, albeit at a slow pace, the heritage is fast disappearing into oblivion as the authenticating resources, especially eye-witnesses are giving in to natural wastage. Similarly, material evidence lying scattered across the landscape is succumbing to agents of weather forces and anthropogenic activities. The spate of available literature on the liberation struggle or the Second Chimurenga of the 1970s which brought Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 has almost entirely focused on causes and course of the war. This is barely adequate given the fact that the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe and southern Africa was so multifaceted that its significance that extended far beyond the continent (Isaacman, et al, 2005:56). Protected Villages attracted significant attention from 260 the international media as well as other organizations, and by the 1960s the region was the world’s last bastion of colonial rule. As a liberation heritage typology, Protected Villages depict the bond that existed between the freedom fighters and the masses. Yet, they were created as part of a package of punitive measures employed to loosen the liberation fighters’ grip on the masses. Initially instituted under a military strategy dubbed “Operation Overload”, reminiscent of the post-1920 Nazi Concentration Camps in Germany, “Protected Villages” remained a significant and outstanding phenomena in the making and remaking of liberation heritage in Zimbabwe. This chapter argues for the recognition of Protected Villages as a significant typology, and not just a mere historical phenomenon, through systematic recording and documentation of the various Protected Villages that lie idle across the country and or/region. Using examples of Protected Villages in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central Provinces, the chapter explores the potential and possibilities for this heritage typology as it relates to people’s experiences, individual and collective memory, places and events in the ‘Keeps’ specifically and Zimbabwe in general. Historical Background In November 1965, Ian Douglas Smith the then Prime Minister of Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe was known at the time) made the infamous Unilateral Declaration of Independence which saw the Rhodesian government being declared illegal therefore unrecognized internationally. The British Government’s responded to UDI by making a declaration of their own stating that there was to be “No Independence Before Majority Rule” (NIBMAR). In 1974, at the height of the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe, the Rhodesian government responded to increasing infiltration of nationalist guerrillas by concentrating isolated African farming communities, also referred to in some writings as peasants (Kriger, Ranger), in “Protected Villages” (PVs). The programme’s prime objective was to sever the ties and communication between the guerrillas and the local rural African communities. Rasmussen 261 (1979: 255) estimates that about 300 000 people were in protected villages by mid-1977; and the government still had plans for creation of more such villages. The Protected Villages are also estimated to have averaged about 2500 residents living within chainlink fence enclosures illuminated by electrical lights at night (Rasmussen, 1979: 256). Rhodesian soldiers stationed at these ‘villages’ had orders to shoot dusk-to-dawn curfew violators. In fact, the District Commissioners stood on the Rhodesian Government’s considered view that, if villagers harbour terrorists and terrorists are found in villages, naturally they will be bombed and destroyed in any manner which the commander on the spot considers to be desirable in the suitable prosecution of a successful campaign…] Where the civilian population involves itself with terrorism, then somebody is bound to get hurt and one can have little sympathy for those who are mixed up with the terrorists when finally they receive the wrath of the security forces Hansard, 1975 cited by Manungo, 1991: 201). It should be noted...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9789956763252
Related ISBN
9789956763726
MARC Record
OCLC
938324138
Pages
376
Launched on MUSE
2016-02-12
Language
English
Open Access
No
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