n Journal of Strategic Studies : A Journal of the Southern Bureau of Strategic Studies Trust - Contesting 'patriotic history' : Zimbabwe's liberation war history and the democratisation agenda

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The article is an exegesis of the interface of liberation war history and democracy in the Zimbabwean polity. It draws corroborative evidence from an exclusively women authored historical narrative, Women of Resilience: The Voices of Women Ex-combatants (2000) published by Zimbabwe Women Writers (ZWW). Remarkably, the article observes that the exclusively women-authored anthology on liberation war history offers an inventory of a gender-based trajectory of memory, thus making gender one of the vital political resources in the nation's democratisation agenda as well as in contesting historical authoritarianism and reconfiguring historical and political discourse. The women's voices use the gender card to discursively destabilise and delegimate official memory reconstructions, particularly at a time when liberation war history in Zimbabwe is being brazenly and aggressively deployed as a political resource. Seen in this light, the article further lays it down that renditions of Zimbabwe's liberation war history and the meanings/interpretations of and contestations for democracy in Zimbabwe's violent politics of contested hegemony are inalienable, inextricable and even fungible. The various contesting categories in the nation use and interpret history for different purposes. The state, represented by the nationalist party, the Zimbabwe African People's Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), operationalises history as legitimating discourse and marshals it even through violence to extend regime life. On the other hand, the sidelined demographic categories contest narrow 'patriotic history' by engineering counter discursive historical accounts.


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