Between 1961 and 1979, African nationalists engaged in a protracted guerrilla war which ultimately ended white colonial rule in Rhodesia (Rhodesia was Zimbabwe's colonial name). The settler regime responded by imprisoning a large number of activists and those whom it suspected of being aligned with the guerrillas. In this thesis, I am particularly interested in the histories and lived experiences of African political detainees and prisoners whose experiences and contributions towards the liberation struggle have been rendered invisible by dominant historical and state narratives. Broadly, this dissertation argues that although political imprisonment in this period was an extreme version of the colonial experience that combined spatial confinement with curtailed freedoms, racialized abuse, racial segregation, and heightened repression, the prison was also a terrain of struggle. By describing the Rhodesian prison as a terrain of struggle, I mean that the prison was doubly a space of repression and subversion, and that political prisoners were capable of challenging and negotiating their incarceration. I therefore seek to establish that although the Rhodesian prisons were centers of brutality, political detainees were not passive recipients of state penal terror as they actively negotiated, challenged, and subverted oppressive penal regulations. The thesis also argues that, as political hostages of the Rhodesian regime, detainees played a crucial role towards dislodging colonial rule both as producers of powerful critiques of the colonial regime from inside the prison confines and as symbols of African resistance. Methodologically, this project relies primarily upon the oral testimonies of ex-political prisoners, and the prison letters that most of them wrote whilst they were in detention. I also make use of little used documentary evidence such as court records and local African and state-controlled newspaper accounts.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2008. Major: History. Advisors: Allen F. Isaacman and Tamara Giles-Vernick. 1 computer file (PDF), vii,304 pages, illustrations.
Munochiveyi, Munyaradzi Bryn.
It was difficult in Zimbabwe: a history of imprisonment, detention and confinement during Zimbabwe’s Liberation struggle, 1960-1980.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.