Archives as a Bridge Between Memory and Society: The Role of Archives in Resolving Chieftainship Wrangles in Zimbabwe

  • Samson Mutsagondo National Archives of Zimbabwe
  • Blessing Chikukwa National Archives of Zimbabwe
  • Godfrey Tsvuura Zimbabwe Open University
Keywords: Archives, chieftainship, chieftainship wrangles, National Archives of Zimbabwe, use of archives


The growth of African family history and chieftainship wrangles have placed archivists under increased pressure to widen the scope of their holdings and make archives more accessible to the general public. Archives pertaining to chiefs and chieftainship (hereafter referred to as chiefs’ archives) are among the most widely used documents at the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ). They have catered for the missing link, a bridge that connects memory and society, at a time oral traditions have failed to fully cater for the history of traditional leadership in Zimbabwe. However, at times, the required archives are not available, or are available in bits and pieces, or are allegedly defiled by political inclinations. This paper examined the role played by archives in resolving chieftainship wrangles in Zimbabwe. This qualitative study used the survey research design, where data were collected through interviews and questionnaires. Informants included 30 chiefs, 10 claimants to chieftainship and 12 archivists. The study established that although chiefs’ archives have their own limitations, they are largely indispensable in resolving chieftainship wrangles in Zimbabwe. The study recommended that NAZ should make chiefs’ archives more accessible to users especially in the provinces, patch gaps that were left glaring by earlier writers as well as to update its collections in order to make them more relevant and user-friendly to contemporary users.

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eISSN: 0376-4753