Black Writers' Shona Novels of the Liberation War in Zimbabwe: An Art That Tells the Truth of Its day/Swart Skrywers Se Shona Romans Oor Die Vryheidstryd in Zimbabwe: 'N Kunsvorm Wat Die Aktualiteit Van Die Dag Weerspieel

Article excerpt

Abstract

Over the years Shona fiction that portrays Zimbabwe's liberation war has been a subject of severe criticism because of its tendency to falsify and distort history. This article attempts to provide answers to the question of why authors of Shona war fiction tended to romanticise the war of liberation. In pursuance of this objective this article looks at circumstances and conditions that prevailed at the time that most of the Shona stories about Zimbabwe's liberation war were written. These stories were published during the first decade of Zimbabwe's independence and it is possible to look at this time and come up with a set of interdependent cultural economic, political and ideological conditions that helped to shape writers' perspectives on the war. The article argues that the conditions of artistic freedom that interfaced with internalised fear, the euphoria and celebration, the dominant ideology of the time, as well as the situation of competition were responsible for shaping the consciousness of the war fiction writers. In this article views expressed in interviews by some of the writers of Shona war fiction are taken into consideration. All interviews with authors referred to in the article were carried out by the researcher.

Opsomming

Deur die jare het Shonafiksie wat oor die Zimbabwiese vryheidstryd handel onder swaar kritiek deurgeloop as gevolg van die tendens om die geskiedenis te vervals en te verdraai. Hierdie artikel poog om antwoorde te verskaf op die vraag waarom dit lyk asof skrywers van Shona-oorlogsfiksie altyd poog om die vryheidstryd te verromantiseer. In die najaag van hierdie doelstelling word gekyk na die omstandighede en die toestand wat geheers het gedurende die tyd waarin die rneeste Shonastories oor die vryheidstryd geskryf is. Hierdie stories is gedurende die eerste dekade na onafhanklikheid gepubliseer. Dit is dus moontlik om na hierdie tydvak te kyk en dan vorendag te kom met 'n stel interafhanklike kulturele, ekonerniese, politieke en ideologiese omstandighede wat moonUik die skrywers se indrukke van die eorlog help vorm het. Die artikel gaan van die veronderstelling uit dat die omstandighede rondom artistieke vryheid binne die raamwerk van interne vrees, die euforie en feesviering, die dominante ideologie van die tyd, sowel as die situasie van kompetisie verantwoordelik was vir die vorming van die bewustheid van die skrywers van oorlogfiksie. Die siening van sommige van sodanige skrywers, soos dit na vore gekom het gedurende persoonlike onderhoude, word deurgaans in ag geneem. Alle onderhoude waarna in hierdie artikel verwys word, is deur die skrywer self gevoer.

1. Introduction

The Second War of Liberation that the indigenous people of Zimbabwe waged against settler occupation and colonial rule was an event of monumental proportions that had far-reaching effects for the country, the region and perhaps the rest of the world. It affected and changed the lives of many people in many ways. Thousands of people died, hundreds were permanently maimed, others rose to fame, and many got rich while others got land that they could call their own for the first time. It was imperative that an event of this magnitude and influence should provide writers with ready-made material which they could use to write their fiction, because there is always an intrinsic relationship between literature and society. Writers of fiction often draw their material and their inspiration from happenings in their environment. The Second War of Liberation in Zimbabwe certainly provided that kind of material and inspiration. However, the picture of the liberation war that readers see through reading Shona liberation war fiction is far from being realistic, and there are several factors that explain that. This article discusses those factors. Before doing that it is, however, essential to look at the state of things as they were before Zimbabwe's independence. This should provide a contrast and a springboard from which to launch the discussion on the situation in the post-colonial era. …