n De Arte - Adam Madebe's and the politics of land struggles in Zimbabwe : research

Volume 2014, Issue 90
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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Adam Madebe's (1992) is mounted on a storey-high pedestal outside Hurudza House, the head office of Agribank, in Harare in Zimbabwe. Interpreting in the context of land struggles in Zimbabwe, we suggest that the sculpture is imbued with associations that were the outcome of historical factors that saw African men being estranged from the land and African women's burdens as well as increasing disempowerment. Referring implicitly to ideas about the peasant as a 'child of the soil', the sculpture lent itself to being read in the 1990s in light of a concept that a rural farmer enjoys psychic and ancestral - rather than purely economic - ties to the land, and as the sign of a commitment on the part of the Zimbabwean government to redress losses experienced through colonialism. But as a representation of a generic farmer rather than a portrayal of a specific individual, is also open in meaning, and its significance for many has shifted in the more than two decades since it was placed in the public domain. While beneficiaries of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme at the turn of the new millennium may continue to view the work as a manifestation of ideas about a child of the soil, those women agriculturalists who still do not own land may well view it as a sign of their ongoing marginalisation, while for people who were violently displaced from farms or who were dispossessed of their livelihoods through the so-called Third Chimurenga, the sculpture would surely be a signifier of trauma and loss.

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