Nation Building in Zimbabwe and the Challenges of Ndebele Particularism

  • SJ Ndlovu-Gatsheni


This article deploys a politico-sociological historical analysis in the interrogation of the origins, tenacity and resilience of Ndebele particularism across pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial epochs in Zimbabwe. While the issue of Ndebele particularism is currently overshadowed by the recent political and economic crisis that has seen Zimbabwe becoming a pariah state, it has continued to haunt both the project of nationalism that ended up unravelling along the fault-lines of Ndebele-Shona ethnicities and the post-colonial nation-building process that became marred by ethnic tensions and violence of the 1980s. In this article, Ndebele particularism is described at two main levels. Firstly, successive pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial historical processes contributed to the construction and consolidation of Ndebele particularism. Secondly, this particularism is a product of coalescence of grievance and resentment to Shona triumphalism. The politico-sociological historical analysis is intertwined with a social constructivist perspective of understanding complex politics of identities in general. The discussion is taken up to the current reverberation of Ndebele particularistic politics on the internet including the creation of a virtual community known as United Mthwakazi Republic (UMR) that symbolises the desire for a restored pre-colonial Ndebele nation in the mould of Swaziland and Lesotho.

African Journal on Conflict Resolution Vol. 8 (3) 2008: pp. 27-56

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1562-6997