The poetics of state terror in twenty-first century Zimbabwe
Boehmer, Elleke and Morton, Stephen (eds.)
Terror and the Postcolonial: a Concise Companion.
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Zimbabwe’s ‘patriotic history’ the official state ideology of the new millennium conforms to Achille Mbembe’s theorization of a postcolonial ‘master fiction’ as the state’s attempt to create its own world of meaning, which
seeks to govern the production of all other socially produced meanings. The Zimbabwean master fiction is an accumulation of distinct narrative segments with separate official designations. The takeover of rural farmland (the so-called ‘Third Chimurenga’) was recently followed by an urban supplement operation Murambatsvina, or ‘sweeping out the filth’. The article is centrally preoccupied with the generic properties of Zimbabwe’s master fiction, claiming that in narrative terms it corresponds to what has been called the adventure narrative of ordeal. Furthermore, the current ‘patriotic’ master fiction may be seen to have been anticipated, rehearsed and reinforced by popular adventure novels of ordeal published locally since 1980 and written by authors such as Garikai Mutasa, Edmund Chipamaunga, Rodwell Machingauta, Lilian Masitera and Claude Maredza. The existence of a ‘popular’ public realm that is in contact with the domain of political discourse, with which it may be exchanging textual strategies, helps to explain why the implementation of the current master fiction has been so successful. The article examines the key generic and narrative properties of the Zimbabwean state fiction with reference to both a representative sample of popular novels and non-fictional texts generated by the state.
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