This collection of essays on Zimbabwean literature brings together studies of both Rhodesian and Zimbabwean literature, spanning different languages and genres. It charts the at times painful process of the evolution of Rhodesian/ Zimbabwean identities that was shaped by pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial realities. The hybrid nature of the society emerges as different writers endeavour to make sense of their world. Two essays focus on the literature of the white settler. The first distils the essence of white settlers' alienation from the Africa they purport to civilize, revealing the delusional fixations of the racist mindset that permeates the discourse of the "white man's burden" in imperial narratives. The second takes up the theme of alienation found in settler discourse, showing how the collapse of the white supremacists' dream when southern African countries gained independence left many settlers caught up in a profound identity crisis. Four essays are devoted to Ndebele writing. They focus on the praise poetry composed for kings Mzilikazi and Lobengula; the preponderance of historical themes in Ndebele literature; the dilemma that lies at the heart of the modern Ndebele identity; and the fossilized views on gender roles found in the works of leading Ndebele novelists, both female and male. The essays on English-language writing chart the predominantly negative view of women found in the fiction of Stanley Nyamfukudza, assess the destabilization of masculine identities in post-colonial Zimbabwe, evaluate the complex vision of life and "reality" in Charles Mungoshi's short stories as exemplified in the tragic isolation of many of his protagonists, and explore Dambudzo Marechera's obsession with isolated, threatened individuals in his hitherto generally neglected dramas. The development of Shona writing is surveyed in two articles: the first traces its development from its origins as a colonial educational tool to the more critical works of the post-1980 independence phase; the second turns the spotlight on written drama from 1968 when plays seemed divorced from the everyday realities of people's lives to more recent work which engages with corruption and the perversion of the moral order. The volume also includes an illuminating interview with Irene Staunton, the former publisher of Baobab Books and now of Weaver Press.
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Mbongeni Z. Malaba teaches at the University of Namibia in Windhoek. Geoffrey Davis is at the University of Aachen in Germany.
Contributors: Patricia Alden; Anthony Chennells; Kennedy Chinyowa; Emmanuel Chiwome; Geoffrey Davis; Bevelyn Dube; Rosemary Gray; Samukele Hadebe; Annelie Klother; Mbongeni Malaba; Tommy Matshakayile-Ndlovu; Christine Matzke; John McAllister; Virginia Phiri; Alena Rettova; Meg Samuelson; Owen Seda; Irene Staunton.
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