n Ubuntu : Journal of Conflict and Social Transformation - The coloniality of Zimbabwean transnational migration in NoViolet Bulawayo’s We need new names (2013) : lessons for African migrants

Volume 8 Number Special Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2078-760X
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4950



This paper focuses on the issues and implications of the Zimbabwean transnational migration experience in NoViolet We Need New Names (2013) (2013). The plot of the novel is set against the backdrop of the post-2000 economic and political crisis which forced many Zimbabweans to engage in regional, continental and global migration as a strategy of survival. The political, economic and social analysis of the implications of such actions have been approached from various angles and disciplines ranging from history, sociology, political science, anthropology, cultural and literary studies. The majority of the studies focus on the transformative aspects of the migration and celebrate the ingenuity and creativity of the migrants and the subsequent identities fashioned. However, we seek to complement this literature by considering the literary depictions of these forms of migration using the theoretical lenses borrowed from the theory of coloniality. We argue that Zimbabwean transnational migration in order to be effectively conceptualised need to be understood in a context defined by global coloniality where being a Zimbabwean transnational migrant in America is synonymous with constituting the 'zone of non – being' and translates into invisibility and marginality. This global coloniality is central to the myriad challenges confronting most Zimbabwean transnational migrants as reflected in We Need New Names. Even though Zimbabwean transnational migrants attempt to migrate from their imposed 'Zone of Non-Beingness' to a 'Zone of Being' where they cease to be marginalised and become visible and fashion adaptive and flexible transnational/transcultural African identities, such attempts are depicted as herculean and nigh impossible.

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