Accepted paper:

Indigenous space, 'indigenisation,' and social boundaries among the Tshwa San of western Zimbabwe


Robert Hitchcock (University of New Mexico)

Paper short abstract:

Some Tshwa San of western Zimbabwe occupy their original territories and others have been relocated as a result of government land reform. This paper considers some complex issues raised by the use of 'indigeneity' in Zimbabwe particularly with regard to social, political, and land rights.

Paper long abstract:

The Tshwa San of Zimbabwe are an indigenous people who have resided in the dry, savanna regions of the western part of the country for generations. The Tshwa historically have had complex dealings with their neighbors, mostly Ndebele, the Kalanga, and Europeans. In 1928 hundreds of Tshwa were removed from the Wankie Game Reserve (now Hwange National Park) by park authorities and resettled in areas to the south of the reserve, in the Tsholotsho Communal Lands. Today, Tsholotsho is divided into a number of different wards. Tshwa are found mainly Wards 7, 8, and 10, with some San households in Wards 1 and 2. Wards are units in which there are local authorities who have representatives in the Tsholotsho District Council. The Tshwa, who have largely been excluded from the local authority structures, want to be represented at the ward, district, provincial, and national political levels. This paper addresses the processes of social identity formation, 'indigenisation' and social boundary creation among the Tshwa, and it discusses local Tshwa politics in the context of the complex politics of contemporary Zimbabwe. The Tshwa face major challenges since the state does not recognize them as distinct indigenous peoples, taking instead the position that all black Zimbabweans are indigenous.

Robert K. Hitchcock, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico

Ben Begbie-Clench, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

Ashton Murirwa, Lecturer, International Relations,University of Zimbabwe

panel P31
"Indigenous" space and local politics