The lecture explores the processes of identity making and state building in a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society recently emerging from a protracted armed struggle against a racially-ordered settler colonial domination. It explores the extent to which historical factors, such as the nature of the state, the prevailing national political economy and regional and international forces and developments have shaped notions of belonging and citizenship over time and affected state building efforts. The role of the post-colonial state and economy, political developments and the land question in shaping the post-colonial dispensation is also examined. The lecture investigates how Zimbabwe’s lived experience has produced various and competing historical narratives about its past; what factors have contributed to the political economy of historical knowledge production in a colonial and post-colonial setting and how this has further complicated the process of the development of a common identity.
It contends that many factors have militated against the development of a common national identity, including, among others, the country’s ethnic diversity, the colonial legacy of racism, autocratic intolerance of political dissent, and a racialised unequal socio-economic regime, the armed conflict that tore the fabric of Zimbabwe’s society for almost two decades and left the races divided, the policy of reconciliation after independence, notwithstanding, the vexatious question of land ownership that remained dangerously unresolved for twenty years, and the problematic role of intellectuals, especially historians, in shaping competing perceptions about the country’s past and present and fuelling difference rather than a sense of common and shared interests.