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Zimbabwe Ruins: a collection of short stories about land reform in Zimbabwe and a critical commentary: 'Voices from the Zimbabwe fast-track land reform'

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posted on 2023-08-30, 17:41 authored by Kathy Mansfield Higgins
My PhD submission comprises a collection of short stories, Zimbabwe Ruins, and a Critical Commentary. Zimbabwe is a postcolonial state, gaining Independence in 1980 after a violent liberation war. From 2000 war veterans and others, frustrated by the decline of Zimbabwe’s economy, increasing poverty and unemployment, overseen by a government widely perceived to be uncaring and corrupt, began to drive white farmers from the land and occupy their farms. The Accelerated Land Reform Programme was developed by government to legalise the repossession of land. The violence of some of the farm occupations was widely shared by the international media, generating support for the whites and outrage against the black insurgents. The socio-political and historic forces which generated the re-possessions were largely omitted from general analysis. There is no substantive body of creative literature which focuses on these events. Zimbabwe Ruins uses the malleability of the short story form to present a range of experiences to capture different perspectives on the national trauma that engulfed the nation. The collection explores a question: is it possible to write about the land reform process, avoiding stereotyping the protagonists and deadening the stories with factual overload? Based on extensive technical research into the continuing effects of the changes in land tenure, and ethnographic observation in Zimbabwe on a number of visits, I use a range of techniques and styles to write the stories including monologue, epistolary, flashbacks, immediate action. A focus in the Commentary is my use of a Bakhtinian polyphony of voices. I also acknowledge the challenges involved in attempting to write from the point of view of another culture. My stories are located in the contemporary landscape of a deeply divided nation and explore the historical and contemporary context in which ordinary people, black and white, are forced to negotiate an existential transformation in their circumstances.



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