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Making sense of cultural nationalism and the politics of commemoration under the Third Chimurenga in Zimbabwe

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J. and Willems, Wendy ORCID: 0000-0002-9185-4268 (2009) Making sense of cultural nationalism and the politics of commemoration under the Third Chimurenga in Zimbabwe. Journal of Southern African Studies, 35 (4). pp. 945-965. ISSN 0305-7070

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Identification Number: 10.1080/03057070903314226


This article examines the range of cultural events and activities that were promoted by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in the 2000s under the banner of the Third Chimurenga. It contributes to a lively debate on post-2000 cultural imaginings of a fetishised nation riddled by contestations over state power. The article posits that the ‘cultural’ nationalism that was promoted through the Third Chimurenga emerged partly as a political response to the failures of ‘developmental’ nationalism of the 1980s and 1990s, and partly as a continuation and intensification of the earlier imaginings of Zimbabwe that dated back to the 1960s. Through a range of cultural activities, the ruling party sought to legitimise its continued rule in the face of the challenges posed by the increasingly popular Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the growing number of civil society organisations. Through the specific genre of the ‘music gala’, cultural nationalism came to attribute new meanings to concepts such as ‘independence’, ‘heroes’ and ‘unity’ in the changed political context of the 2000s. The gala effectively syncretised the elite memorialism of the 1980s and 1990s with the cultural practices of the 1970s liberation war. The revival of cultural nationalism in the 2000s assisted ZANU-PF in deepening and strengthening the liberation war as Zimbabwe's primary foundation myth. It also enabled the ruling party to delegitimise the MDC as a party without liberation war credentials and as a threat to the country's ‘independence’ and ‘unity’. This article tracks the roots of cultural nationalism prior to the 2000s, and analyses the forms that were promoted as part of the Third Chimurenga, with a specific focus on music galas, bashes and commemorations, in order to consider the type of nation that was being celebrated, performed and commemorated in the post-2000

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2009 The Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2013 14:56
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:48

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