2020-08-26Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/25840
‘Where Art Thou?’: Ethnocracy, Toponymic Silence, and Toponymic Subjugation in the Harare Commemorative Landscapes During the Mugabe Era (1980–2017)
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
This article explores the post-colonial national identity formation using place names that commemorate the nation’s past in Zimbabwe. Place name alterations that the new political elites implemented at independence in 1980 were aimed at disassembling relics of the deposed regime and craft a new national identity. The commemorative landscapes of Harare, as a national capital, constitute a strategic medium in the constitution of national identity. Ethnicity dominated the political landscape in Zimbabwe. The two main political parties, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), have been aligned with the two supertribes, Shona and Ndebele, respectively. The article explores how the ruling ZANU (PF) government whose leadership was largely Shona used a meta-narrative modelled around discourses of exclusionary autochthony and a partial presentation of the liberation war history that projected ZAPU as having made an insignificant contribution to the liberation war to construct a national identity. It concludes that the use of exclusionary definitions of belonging and a one-sided presentation of the war past that projected ZANU as having contributed more to the liberation war entrenched Shona ethnic chauvinistic tendencies and propagated ZANU (PF) political hegemony. Using the theoretical lens of critical toponymy, the article argues that politically motivated place renaming efforts usually select from the past aspects that serve present political purposes.
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