Acting out the myths : the power of narrative discourse in shaping the Zimbabwe Conflict of Matabeleland, 1980-1987.
This thesis interrogates the Matabeleland disturbances of 1980-1987 by analysing the conflict narratives promulgated by the ZANU-PF and how these narratives directly impacted the socio-political construction of violence that was enacted during that period. Of critical relevance is the interplay between the revolutionary narratives manufactured and imposed by the ZANU-PF regime and the myriad of contrasting, yet subjugated counter-narratives that were formulated as alternative resistances by the recipient communities. Through in-depth interview and document analysis methodologies, this research deconstructs the generative nature of scripted violence through the exploration of five salient themes employed by the ZANU-PF to produce its political meta-narrative: Ethnicity, Nationalism, Loyalty, Legitimacy and Unity. This study explores the power and function of narrative discourse in the formulation of ethnic identities, nation-state ordering, historical exclusion, political discipline, and social uniformity. The premise of this dissertation suggests that durable peace in Zimbabwe will only be realised to the degree that the silenced victims of the Matabeleland massacres are afforded a public voice and a sustained recognition in the historic, collective memory of that nation.