‘In the name of struggle’: Violence without Boundaries in Chenjerai Hove’s Bones and Yvonne Vera’s The Stone Virgins

Ethel Maqeda – School of English


This paper explores the representation of violence against women in Chenjerai Hove’s Bones and Yvonne Vera’s The Stone Virgins and argues that the novels do not only bear witness to the atrocities that have shaped the identities of Zimbabweans for generations but also subvert dominant narratives by foregrounding alternative voices. Bones, and The Stone Virgins are interesting for their unconventional foregrounding of female characters in narratives about struggles in which women’s experiences have largely been excluded; their unusual focus on the ‘unspeakable’ (rape and sexual violence), and their portrayal of state-orchestrated violence. The paper’s main argument is explored using Bones; The Stone Virgins is used to provide a brief, further contextualisation for the depiction of violence against women in Zimbabwean writing. The representation of perpetual and shocking violence on women in Bones and The Stone Virgins not only realistically contextualises the novels, it is rather of strategic necessity: to allow women’s voices to challenge dominant narratives and push Zimbabwean women’s struggles to the forefront.


Zimbabwean writing, particularly writing in English, has tended to be inextricably bound to the violence of the temporally specific historical and political contexts of colonisation, the struggle for independence and post-independence struggle for democracy. According to R Zhuwarara, ‘the birth of Zimbabwean fiction in English has been influenced largely by the peculiar history of Zimbabwe and the various crises which blacks experienced between 1890 and 1980’.[1] I would argue that the crises did not end in 1980 and as such, violence continues to appear with striking frequency in Zimbabwean writing. The Ndebele and Shona Uprisings (First Chimurenga 1896-97), the war of Independence (Second Chimurenga 1963-1979),[2] the successive state-authorised massacres that took place in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the early to mid-1980s (usually referred to as the Gukurahundi),[3] and the current multifaceted crisis (1999-present)[4] all happening within just over a hundred years, have helped to ingrain the persistence of violence as one of the major concerns of Zimbabwean writing.

However, atrocities perpetrated against women, especially sexual violence committed by freedom fighters during the war still receive very little literary and academic attention. There is a general denial by the authorities that these atrocities took place or when addressed they are downplayed as an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of ‘the struggle’. While examples of historical terror and trauma perpetrated by the white settlers, the Rhodesian army[5] or their collaborators are prevalent and depicted in great detail in both fiction in the local languages and fiction written in English, most novels focusing on the colonial period such as Samkange’s On Trial for My Country, Year of the Uprising (1978), Solomon Mutswairo’s Soldier of Zimbabwe (1978), Shimmer Chinodya’s Harvest of Thorns (1991) and Wilson Katiyo’s A Son of the Soil (1976) glorify the guerillas and endorse their use of violence. When Flame, the first film to tackle the sexual abuse and rape of women combatants by their male colleagues during the war of liberation was released in 1996 (sixteen years after independence) it generated considerable political controversy. The government and the War Veterans Association accused the film makers of pandering to donor demands (the film was supported by the European Union) and exaggerating the atrocities.

In the post-independence period, the Gukurahundi also made women in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces of Zimbabwe more vulnerable to violence and crime. As well as the murders, the bayonetting of pregnant women and the public floggings, women who were victimised during Gukurahundi also suffered various forms of sexual violence such as rape and beatings on the genitals which were labelled ‘dissident possessions’ (interview with survivor, Nkayi, Matabeleland North, 11th August 2011).[6] The atrocities also remain a taboo topic in which the experiences of women are suppressed and erased by the ‘more urgent’ and broader struggle to have the government acknowledge the Gukurahundi as historical reality and to accept responsibility for the massacres.

More recently, Politically-motivated violence and sexual violence against women has become prevalent under Zimbabwe’s current oppressive regime. Sexual violence and other forms of violence against women are used to silence and intimidate dissenting voices and repress political opposition. Women are frequent victims of brutality at the hands of police and other security forces, subjected to torture, beatings, rape, disappearances, and displacement. Because of the stigma attached to rape survivors and to living with HIV (a usual consequent of rape) the crime goes unreported and unpunished. Both Bones and The Stone Virgins are revolutionary in depicting violence, sexual violence, rape and the abuse of power that subvert the simple and dominant narrative and present personal narratives as equally viable for expressing community or national experiences.

Women as victims of Liberation

Chenjerai Hove’s Bones is probably the most well-known of his works. Bones narrates the story of Marita, a farm worker on a white owned farm in Rhodesia, and her long and increasingly desperate search for her only son, who has joined the war of liberation. The story begins during the struggle for independence and ends just after. Different people recount various aspects of Marita’s life on the farm following her son’s disappearance. Marita befriends Janifa, a young woman, when she discovers that they have an invaluable connection: a love letter which Marita never tires of having Janifa to her. Marita has a spineless husband, Murume, whose weakness is further accentuated by his degradation at the hands of the oppressive white farmer, Manyepo. Chisaga is Manyepo’s black cook who is conscious of his own power, which is derived from his closeness to Manyepo. Significantly, Chisaga wants to possess Marita, who, in turn, skilfully uses the man’s desire of her to get favours from him. She never actually gives herself to him, unwittingly placing her friend, Janifa at risk. Chisaga rapes Janifa to make up for Marita getting away. There is also the mysterious ‘Unknown Woman’ who travels in the same bus that is taking Marita to the city to search for her son. Revealing great courage and loyalty to Marita, she tries to claim Marita’s body who otherwise would have received a paupers’ funeral. The Spirits Speak is the voice that explains the spiritual and historical background for the war.

Although Hove shies away from graphically describing some of the acts of violence perpetrated against the female characters in Bones, the undertones are always pervasive. The deaths of Marita and The unknown woman, though not described graphically, highlight the excessiveness and pointlessness of the violence. The omission of the description makes the brutality of the killings chilling. The reader is left to imagine for themselves how the women might have met their deaths. The Unknown Woman, old and frail, turns up to collect Marita’s body ‘from the house where they keep dead bodies so that they do not grow worms’ (1998:76) and then insists on attending the secret burial organised for Marita by ‘government’. The reader does not find out how she dies but gets a hint from the description of the men who come to bury her. ‘A truck full of men in colourless uniforms with clean shaven heads as round as beans’ (1998:79). The men claim ‘We have orders from important people to take the body and bury it’ (1998:79). This confirms that Marita has been killed by soldiers or other uniformed forces such as the police. The reader also finds out about the death of The Unknown Woman through Marita’s thoughts after death, ‘Marita will not forget the woman whose body lay near her when people in colourless uniforms went to bury her’ (1998:81). It becomes horrifically clear that the men in colourless uniforms have murdered the ‘weak, old woman in the back of their truck on their way to bury Marita. The shocking nature of the violence is in it being committed by the army for the newly elected black government, a point which is highlighted by the omission of its description. Marita and the Unknown Woman die because they have challenged the status quo. It is significant that the woman who dies trying to stand up for Marita is only known as ‘The Unknown Woman’. This makes her a metaphor for all women who suffered the brutality of the war and its immediate aftermath, women who are in danger of having their memories and versions of history buried and erased. Their experiences are all the more traumatic as they foreground violence committed by the very powers meant to protect communities and by communities and families ceasing to be sources of refuge.

The language of violence runs through the text, and although the acts are sometimes vague, the implications are clear. For example, when Marita is interrogated by the Rhodesian forces, she is taken ‘for more serious interrogation’ (1998:59) and is brought back looking ‘like a torn piece of cloth’ (1998:60). She had soil pushed into her mouth and had been burnt with ‘burning things all over the body, even the places that cannot be mentioned’ (1998:60). The reader can surmise that Marita suffers horrific sexual torture and rape as well as a beating. When the fighters come to the village and try to get Marita to implicate Manyepo and name the person who had sold her out, Marita refuses to do it. The implication is that if she had given them up, the fighters would have killed them.

Although Hove does not make violence the central focus of the story the frequency and nonchalance with which it is alluded to show how inescapable it is for the characters. For example, when Janifa claims to have thrown the love letter from Marita’s son in the toilet he threatens her ‘I will kill you, I will cut your head off. You bitch’ (1998:8) the threat is uncalled for and excessive compared to the action that provoked it. There is a way in which violence is meted out and suffered so casually it is expected and accepted as the norm.

There is no sense of safety in any aspect of Marita and the other women’s lives. Janifa is constant sexual prey to the men around her. Chisaga, the ‘house boy’ keeps hounding Janifa for sex ‘he does not tire, he comes with much saliva in his mouth…’ (Hove, 1998:23) and eventually manages to rape her, with impunity. The herbalist who is supposed to cure Janifa after her breakdown, also ‘wanted to do bad things’ (1998:95) to Janifa which causes her further trauma. Jenny Edkins (2003) writes that trauma is:

When the very powers that we are convinced will protect us and give us security become our tormentors; when the community of which we considered ourselves members turns against us or when our family is no longer a source of refuge but a site of danger[7]

The violence against women in Bones is emphasised as being without any moral restraint at that point. The betrayal by their fellow oppressed creates a dissenting view to the war narrative. The herbalist, who in the cultural context should bring about both physical and psychological healing turns of to be a sexual pest. Janifa’s mother does not provide her with any comfort or protection either, telling the police that no crime had been committed. There is a sense in which Janifa’s body is always in danger of being violated, until she seeks refuge at the mental hospital. The women in Bones have to constantly fight for control of their lives, their bodies and their sexuality. Their predators are both black and white which shatters the view of the anticolonial struggle and Chimurenga as all-encompassing, as women often found themselves fighting a parallel struggle.

Through Marita, Janifa and The Unknown Woman’s stories the text counteracts silence and forgetting about women’s experiences and their contribution to one of the country’s most important defining episodes. It is through Marita’s torture at the hands of the Rhodesian soldiers; ‘Marita how they brought you back torn like a piece of cloth. How they brought you back bleeding through the ears’ (1998:60); the physical violence and exploitation by Manyepo and the emotional abuse and alienation by Marume’s relatives that the reader is made aware of the difficult position that women occupied during the decolonisation process. Specifically engaging Marita in the political struggles against the oppressive colonial system compels a re-evaluation of the status of women in terms of participation in politics and history making. Marita’s encounters with the Rhodesian forces and the guerrilla fighters place women at the centre, not the periphery of the anti-colonial struggle. Hove seeks to make this concrete by including the voice of The Spirits Speak modelled on Nehanda, the spiritualist and key leader in the first uprisings against colonial rule in 1896.

In Bones, Hove portrays black Zimbabwean women’s struggles against male created oppressive circumstances (patriarchy and colonialism) that collude to break and silence them. The colonial context perpetuated inequality between men and women, and supported violence against women, who were at the bottom of the harsh hierarchical colonial system. Black women faced ‘double colonisation’[8] for being women, and further for being black. In Rhodesia, women were regarded as legal minors until The Legal Age of Majority Act was passed in 1982, after independence. This minority status of women is apparent in Marita’s struggles and the pervasive violence she experiences at the hands of the ‘baas-boy’ at the farm, the Rhodesian soldiers and finally, the Zimbabwean soldiers. Marita works the hardest on the farm but only gets paid ‘a cup of beans’ (Hove, 1998:45).

Hove uses Marita to bring to light a world where the women take on the double burden of colonial repression, often propping up the men who have been completely emasculated by the experience. It is only Marita who stands up to Manyepo, when nobody else will. She has the resolve to ask the questions others refuse to ask. Although Marita and the Unknown Woman end up dead and Janifa suffers a mental breakdown, their deaths and suffering are heroic and Janifa’s mental breakdown is a refusal to be ‘chained’ by the experience. The women refuse to be the mere victims. When Marita dies Janifa worries, ‘Marita, Now I do not know who will tell Manyepo …The men are all castrated’ (1998:17).

The male characters are completely spineless against colonial repression and plagued with weaknesses of character: Marume, Marita’s husband, is resigned to working for very little under harsh conditions ‘we are chief’s sons in a strange land.’ (28), Chisaga, the ‘house boy’ is an apologist who thinks that ‘Manyepo is not a bad man’ (1998:38) despite treating the workers like slaves:

he inspected us like a police sergeant, feeling the strength of our muscles to see who was full of bones and who was full of watery muscles…Then we all worked for months without pay to get Manyepo’s word. Marita, you worked like a donkey…’ (1998:39)

The women have to deal with the trauma and adversity of colonisation, in a world where they remain further marginalised and oppressed by patriarchy. In Bones, Hove does not shy away from depicting the betrayals, the ambiguities and the way black men colluded with the colonial system to keep women oppressed and marginalised. Marita does not only suffer abuse from Manyepo and Chisaga but also from her husband’s relatives. Marita and her husband have to leave their village because of the verbal and emotional abuse they receive for being childless. Marita’s husband bemoans their fate, ‘How could I continue to live in the same village? I packed my things and went away. Then when they gave you all sorts of names, you followed and we ended up in this forest where baas Manyepo is the chief’ (1998:28). They are hounded out of their home into the forced labour system at Manyepo’s farm. Both Marita and The Unknown Woman die mysterious deaths at the government offices in the city because they dare to insist on accountability. The Unknown Woman insists on talking to ‘government’ to get Marita’s body back. ‘Where does government stay so that I can visit him and ask for the body’ (1998:68).

Bones has often been read as a positive portrayal of Zimbabwean women’s struggles as ‘it focuses on women’s resistance to traditional, colonial and nationalist oppression’[9] The women in Bones defy all three in a way that challenges the perception of Zimbabwean women as ‘happy’ and subservient. The female central characters, Marita, Janifa and The Unknown Woman all refuse to suffer silently. They violate social and moral codes in order to survive. Marita’s single-minded search for her son is a firm insistence on focussing on a parallel struggle to the greater anti-colonial struggle. Janifa refuses to get married and questions the whole patriarchal custom of lobola, ‘bride price’.

Mother says I must get married so that cattle can come to her house while she still has good teeth to eat them. But does she not know that when cattle come to her home, I will not have the chance to eat them since I go the other way? What does it help to bring cattle that I do not eat myself? (98).

Hove’s portrayal of Marita, Janifa and The Unknown Woman challenges established representations of women in Zimbabwean writing as the inferior ‘other’, and mere weak victims, reliant on men for their survival. The women are shown to be assertive, independent, and resourceful, and they possess the capacity to subvert patriarchy.  In Bones Hove begins the process of counting the personal cost of the struggle against the official rhetoric of collective heroic sacrifice.

Bones not only offers a departure in representation of violence in Zimbabwean fiction by foregrounding women but by also highlighting the long lasting consequences of the violence on individuals, allowing individual voices to contribute to the creation of collective memory. Janifa’s mental and physical wounds are the direct result of being raped by Chisaga who gets away with the crime because he is the ‘house boy’. Although Janifa’s experience is a very personal and intimate one, it highlights the systematic abuse of power that colonialism engendered and the widespread sanctioned violence suffered by women during the period.

State-orchestrated violence in The Stone Virgins

Social and political violence remains recurring phenomena in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean writing is that, ‘political solutions’ that deal and have dealt with past and present abuses after periods of intense violence, such as the Gukurahundi and pre- and post-government elections, do so by providing legal and moral immunity for perpetrators. The Gukurahundi remains largely unacknowledged though it is the government that dispatched the army on unarmed civilians; thousands of people lost their lives. This history of unaddressed abuses promotes fear, mistrust and social divisions that perpetuate future violence.

Yvonne Vera’s The Stone Virgins (2002) is one of the very few works of fiction to focus on the little-known “Gukurahundi Massacres” that took place in Zimbabwe between 1980 and 1986. This violent episode appears as an absence that takes little part in the history of Zimbabwe. It receives little description and emphasis in official documentation and is merely regarded as ‘known’ and not requiring further attention which makes it sound as mere speculation when it is brought up. While the liberation war is commemorated during the Heroes Day celebrations (18 April) and the Defence Forces Day (13 August), the Gukurahundi is never mentioned in any state media and is not included on the history curriculum. Government officials and army commanders who were in charge during this period have steadfastly refused to acknowledge the Gukurahundi as historical fact. This is because Zimbabwean history is written in a political context in which nationalism is the centre. The authorities make nationalism representative without regarding the experiences of other different and marginalised groups. Stone Virgins counteracts this collective, selective forgetting by choosing the Gukurahundi as the background for the story.

Vera focuses on a particular historical event, the terror and violence that took place in the rural area of Matoba in Kezi district of South Matabeleland. This incident is recorded as ‘the Matoba Case of Kezi village’. According to a report by The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (2007),[10] The experience involved a food embargo, burning of homes, beatings, torture of a sexual nature, rape, genital mutilations and forced sex with animals. The Stone Virgins is the story of two sisters caught up in the violence of the Gukurahundi. Vera blends fiction and history to show the harrowing ordeal endured by the, people of Kezi and the two sister characters in the story. The older sister, Thenjiwe is decapitated and the younger one, Nonceba is raped by a man called Sibaso. Such acts of brutality were common during the Gukurahundi period. By involving and inserting her fictional characters into real historical events, Vera exposes the lies of the repressive Zimbabwe regime and highlights the personal and national/regional trauma resulting from the wide-scale brutality. Vera’s novel is especially important as it acknowledges the violence and in a way contributes to the preservation of personal and collective memories that are in danger of being forever repressed and misrepresented. While Hove’s Bones could be classed as a Zimbabwean war novel, wholly fictional though based on history, Stone Virgins moves closer to being a historical record and covers a previously ignored period.

The fact that the story of the two sisters is based on real historical events, involving a lot of people who are still living, makes it even more challenging to represent. This is evidenced by how difficult it seems to have been for the writer to get to the story. The reader does not meet the sisters, the central characters, until thirty pages into the book. The novel begins with a seemingly unrelated description of the city of Bulawayo and when the story gets to the setting it is only what you see when you are leaving that is described, and not the horror. ‘Kezi is a rural enclave. Near it are the hills of Gulati. When you leave Kezi, you depart from the most arable stretch of flatland there is’ (Vera, 2003: 17) and Kezi is ‘two hundred kilometres from the bustling porch of the Selborne Hotel (Bulawayo City Centre)’ (2003:16). The violent nature of what happens to the sisters is so shocking that it is difficult to articulate. Commenting on the difficulty of writing about violence and trauma Phillippe Codde argues that ‘Words simply fail to capture these shattering experiences, and verbal testimonies, therefore, tend to be extremely circuitous and oblique’[11]. In Stone Virgins, Vera seems to be stalling the arrival at Kezi. It is as if Vera is not interested in telling the story, or is avoiding or fears getting to the traumatic events. While the poetic descriptions establish a distinct sense of place, the place that gets a lot of attention is not the setting for the events. The facts of what has happened to the people of Kezi only emerge gradually. Although the book is divided into two different historical sections (1950-1980 and1981-1986), the sense of time and the presence of people are initially vague and impressionistic. There are a lot of people in the descriptions about Kezi: ‘young boys running through the soft soil’, ‘a tall woman who arrives in a colourful dress’, ‘van drivers…’, ‘men sitting along the wall with their legs hanging high off the ground and a lot of people coming and going from Thandabantu Store but they all remain vague and anonymous. The section in Kezi is like a dreamlike fog, difficult to say with certainty what is happening. The voice is poetic, sensual and descriptive but still not exact about the acts of violence. For example, the description of Thenjiwe’s decapitation is:

His head is behind Thenjiwe, where Thenjiwe was before, floating in her body; he is her body. He is floating like a flash of lightning. Thenjiwe’s body remains upright while this man’s head emerges behind hers, inside it, replacing each of her moments, taking her position in the azure of the sky. He is absorbing Thenjiwe’s motions into his own body, existing where Thenjiwe was, moving into the spaces she has occupied. (73)

This could be a description of a dance between Thenjiwe and Sibaso rather than the moment he decapitates her. Sibaso beheads Thenjiwe so skilfully and swiftly that the reader is for a moment awed by it. They are also almost hypnotised by the poetic and sensual rendering of the moment into admiring the skill before the horror of the realisation that that sort of beautiful skill comes from practice and perhaps enjoyment:

In that quickness, moments before that, Nonceba sees the right arm pull back and grab the body by the waist, a dancing motion so finely practiced, it is clear it is not new to the performer. It is not the first death he has held in his arms, clutching at it, like a bird escaping. (75)

It is difficult to reconcile the poetry with the horror of what has happened and that Sibaso is a soldier, someone who should be protecting the people, not brutalising them.

Vera also breaks another convention by focussing on the taboo subject of rape. Politically motivated rape and gang rape is a subject that is notably absent from literary discourse and yet it is a rampantly used weapon of war and a prevalent form of political violence in Zimbabwe. Vera’s depiction of Sibaso challenges the myth of heroic freedom fighter. Although his brutal murder of Thenjiwe and Nonceba’s rape are committed within the context of a ‘conflict’, and as such sanctioned as necessary for the larger aim of victory, the conflict is one-sided, and the rape and murder unheroic as the opponents are weaker and unarmed. Sibaso perpetrates violence against unarmed, innocent civilians.

Victims of violence are consequently left to cope with the physical and psychological trauma alone and are compelled to accept their suffering as being ‘, part of the struggle’, a sacrifice for freedom and democracy. The official version of national history fails to grasp the multiple, often very painful personal experiences of the war and Vera seeks ‘to render audible the silenced stories of Zimbabwean women’. [13]


This paper attempts to show that, with regard to representation of violence against women in Zimbabwean writing, while historical and political framing on one hand acknowledges the complex dynamics that inform it, it can also provide a legitimacy to the prevalence of violence. Overemphasising  anti-colonial or nationalist agendas undermines the reading of the violence as horrific and unethical by giving it a degree of moral justification that removes culpability and ethical boundaries. This paper argues that both the anti-colonial struggle and the postcolonial struggle for democracy are not all-encompassing discourses but male enterprises in which women’s experiences are supressed and silenced. As Holst Peterson and Anna Rutherford (1986) have pointed out ‘women had no official place in the drama of imperial conquest’. [14] In Zimbabwe, the struggle for democracy remains as a mainly masculine project with male authored accounts that contribute to authorisation and regularisation of violence against women.

Writing that resists such dominant discourse is not only testimony, but historical record especially in a history as contested as Zimbabwe’s. The two texts, by the choice of subject and central characters, begin the process of questioning the account of ‘patriotic’ history that only portrays atrocities and massacres of civilians taking place during overtly violent contexts as strategic, and thus necessary. Bones and Stone Virgins begin to place the responsibility for the postcolonial omnipresence of violence without the common goal of independence, with individuals. The continued engagement and questioning of violence against women during the various crises could initiate a gradual move towards considering the heinous acts as ‘war crimes’ for which victims could have recourse to the law.


Bhala,, Timothy. et.al, ‘Male Voices in Female Bodies: The Case of Chenjerai Hove’s Androcentricism’, English Language and Literature Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2013), pp. 47-54.

Chung, Fay. Reliving the Second Chimurenga: Memories from the Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe, (Stockholm: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet/ Harare: Weaver Press, 2006).

Codde, Phillippe. ‘Philomela Revisited: Traumatic Iconicity in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’, Studies in American Fiction, 35.2 (2007), pp.241-254

Dodgson, Katiyo. Pauline Rites of Passage in Postcolonial Women’s Writing, (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010).

Edkins, Jenny. Trauma and the memory of politics, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Hove, Chenjerai. Bones, ( Harare: Baobab Books, 1998).

Kumi, Naidoo. and Doube, Clare. ‘Crisis for Civil Society in Zimbabwe’, The International Journal of Civil Society Law 5.2 (2007): 83-88.

Lyons, Tanya. Guns and Guerrilla Girls: Women in the Zimbabwean National Liberation Struggle, (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2004).

Peterson, Kirstern. H. and Rutherford, Anna. A Double Colonisation: Colonial and Postcolonial Women’s Writing, (Oxford: Dangaroo Press, 1986).

Said, Edward. Orientalism, (New York: Vintage Books, 1979).

Vera, Yvonne, Stone Virgins, (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2002).

Zhuwarara, Rino ‘Zimbabwean Fiction in English’ Zambezia: The Journal of the University of Zimbabwe, XIV.ii (1987), pp.131-145.

Thomas, Kylie. et al. Political transition and sexual and gender-based violence in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe: a comparative analysis, Gender & Development, 21:3, (2013) 519-532, DOI: 10.1080/13552074.2013.846617.


[1] Rino Zhuwarara, ‘Zimbabwean Fiction in English’, Zambezia: The Journal of the University of Zimbabwe, XIV.ii (1987), 131-145 (p. 131).

[2] Zimbabwe’s war of liberation known as the ’Second Chimurenga’ was fought from 1963-1979. The word Chimurenga means to fight or struggle. Many women served as combatants and also supported the war effort in various other ways such as, carrying arms, providing food and crucial information to the guerrillas. For more on the Chimurenga and women’s participation, see for example, Fay Chung, Reliving the Second Chimurenga: Memories from the Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe (Stockholm: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2006) and Tanya Lyons, Guns and Guerrilla Girls: Women in the Zimbabwean National Liberation Struggle (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2004).

[3] For more on the Gukurahundi see for example Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace & The Legal Resources Foundation in Harare, Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe: A Report on the Disturbances in Matebeleland and the Midlands, 1980-1988 (Colombia: Hurst,2007).

[4]For a background and explanation of the current political and economic crisis see, Brian, Raftapoulos ‘Nation, race and history in Zimbabwean politics’, Making nations, creating strangers: States and citizenship in Africa 16 (2007), Naidoo, Kumi; Doube, Clare. ‘Crisis for Civil Society in Zimbabwe’, The International Journal of Civil Society Law 5.2 (2007): 83-88.

[5] The term is used to refer to the mainly white security forces who fought on the side of the settler government during the colonial period. The black fighters fighting for independence are usually referred to as ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘guerrillas’. I use the term ‘Zimbabwean soldiers’ to refer to members of the armed forces (mainly black) after independence.

[6] Kylie Thomas, Masheti Masinjila & Eunice Bere (2013) Political transition and sexual and gender-based violence in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe: a comparative analysis, Gender & Development, 21:3, 519-532, DOI: 10.1080/13552074.2013.846617 (p. 526).

[7] Jenny Edkins, Trauma and the memory of politics, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) p.4.

[8] The term ‘double colonisation’ was coined by Kirstern Holst Peterson and Anna Rutherford and refers to the way in which women have simultaneously experienced the oppression of colonialism and patriarchy.

[9] Pauline Dodgson Katiyo, Rites of passage in Postcolonial Women’s Writing, (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010), p.89.

[10] Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace & the Legal Resources Foundation in Harare, Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe: A Report on the Disturbances in Matebeleland and the Midlands, 1980-1988 (Colombia: Hurst, 2007) p.25.

[11] Phillippe Codde, ‘Philomela Revisited: Traumatic Iconicity in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ Studies in American Fiction, 35.2 (autumn 2007), p.241-254 (p.241).

[12] Ranka Primorac, ‘The place of the Woman is the Place of Imagination’: Yvonne Vera Interviewed. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 39.3 (2004) pp.157-171 (p.162).

[13] Kirstern Holst and Anna Rutherford, A double Colonisation: Colonial and Postcolonial Women’s Writing, (Oxford: Dangaroo Press, 1986), p.58.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: