n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - The image of absence and the politics of naming in Shona war fiction : original research

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2279



During Zimbabwe's liberation war thousands of young people crossed into neighbouring countries to take up arms to fight and end colonialism. There is sufficient evidence that many of these young people were women. Political rhetoric also maintains that women fought alongside their male counterparts. However, in the Shona literature that depicts Zimbabwe's guerrilla war there is a glaring absence of female characters who play the roles of guerrilla fighters. This article is an attempt to discuss this absence and to explain why there are very few guerrilla girls in Shona war fiction. The article argues that female guerrillas are not given much space in Shona war novels because the writers of these novels continue the oral folktale tradition in which women are rarely made heroines. It is further argued that in the actual guerrilla war of the 1970s female guerrillas were rarely seen fighting at the war front, that the pioneer guerrillas were men and that the masculine discourse about the war excluded women. Moreover, only men have written Shona war novels.

Tydens Zimbabwe se bevrydingsoorlog het duisende jong mense die grense van buurlande oorgesteek om wapens op te neem teen kolonialisme. Daar bestaan voldoende getuienis dat baie van hierdie jong mense vroulik was. Politieke retoriek het dit dan ook duidelik gemaak dat vroue saam met hul manlike eweknieë geveg het. In die Shona-literatuur wat Zimbabwe se guerrillaoorlog uitbeeld is daar egter 'n skreiende afwesigheid van vroulike karakters wat die rolle van die guerrilla vegters uitbeeld. Hierdie artikel is 'n poging om hierdie beeld van afwesigheid te ontleed en te verduidelik waarom daar so min vroulike guerrillavegters in Shona-oorlogsfiksie voorkom. Die artikel argumenteer dat die skrywers van Shona-oorlogsromans dikwels die mondelinge volksverhaal waarin selde vroulike heldinne voorkom, voortgesit het. Daar word verder aangevoer dat in die werklike guerrilla-oorlog van die 1970's vroulike guerrillavegters selde gesien is waar hulle voor in die oorlog geveg het; dat die pionier guerrillavegters mans was; en dat die manlike diskoers oor die oorlog vroue uitgesluit het. Bowendien het slegs mans Shona-oorlogsromans geskryf.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error