ESARBICA Journal: Journal of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives

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Politicization of memory and the creation of dark histories in Zimbabwe

Livingstone Muchefa


Politics have greatly influenced the documentation process of Zimbabwean history. This article takes the concept of ‘dark history’ not only to mean painful life experiences on a group of people ranging from political parties to communities but also to imply absence of light due to poor documentation and inaccessibility of necessary information. Darkness will therefore be seen in the context of deliberate efforts of subjective documentation and poor access to information, understating facts and subjecting them to various contestable interpretations. Documentation of history and national memory is very vulnerable to political manipulation. The article shall focus on the various means and ways that lead to poor documentation, poor access and conflicting memories on past events. Usefulness of various symbols of memory that are usable to retract that past shall be analysed. It is the writer`s perception that a multi-disciplinary approach must be adopted and that new ways of records management must be adopted so that availability of information must be relatively fair on many issues of our past. This article shall use the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) as its core case study to evaluate documentation and accessibility of records.

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