Land disputes, social identities and the state in the izimpi zemibango in the Umzinto district, 1930–1935.
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This article challenges the widespread tendency to label and dismiss all manner of violent conflicts involving rural African communities as “faction fights”, “tribal disturbances” or “native unrest” primarily because such a generalisation perpetuates a stereotypical belief that there is an inherent propensity towards mindless violence among African people. By tracing the long roots of conflicts in the Umzinto district it illustrates that tensions brewed for long periods of time before they deteriorated into violence, and that violence was often the last resort, chosen when people had explored and exhausted all avenues for the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Careful examination of the political and economic contexts in which tensions surfaced and degenerated into violence also reveals that there were non-African players who contributed to the outbreak of violent conflicts.