Disabled people's quest for social
justice in Zimbabwe
Robert Chimedza and Susan Peters
In this chapter, we take up the challenge of creating a new cultural and transformative paradigm for justice and human rights through the example of the disability human rights movement in Zimbabwe. In two decades (approximately 1973 to 1994), disabled people in Zimbabwe went from institutionalization as the dominant form and structure of community, to national recognition as leaders in disability rights. They began in a position of powerlessness and complete dependence on patrons, advancing to a selfmanaged political organization in an amazingly short period of time. We look closely at the Zimbabwean people's struggle for place and identity in a society that has traditionally marginalized disabled people. Paradoxically, institutionalization of people with disabilities in Zimbabwe spawned the disability rights movement, just as colonization sowed the seeds of liberation and independence for the country as a whole. In the search for identity and place, the example of the Zimbabwean struggle for independence - not only in society at large but for people with disabilities - illuminates a process of community building through the educational praxis of conscientization. We argue that this quest for community is an essential building block for establishing social justice and human rights.
In a thoughtful and provocative volume entitled Disability and the Dilemmas of Education and Justice (1996), Carol Christenson and Fazal Rizvi explore alternatives to what they see as the dominant distributive paradigm of justice in the world polity (and its correlate, human rights). The dominant 'distributive' paradigm purports to guarantee individual choice in a free market