Accepted paper:

Kuyedza: African Police Wives' Club, Identity Politics and Zimbabwe's Struggle for Independence.


Brian Ngwenya (University of Basel)

Paper short abstract:

Using Kuyedza Club as a case, the study explores dynamics of identity politics in colonial Zimbabwe. It draws on oral interviews and archival evidence to emphasise conflicts and connections between African and European women, the colonial state and variations over time and space in decolonisation.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the history of Kuyedza African Police Wives' Club in colonial Zimbabwe from 1958 to 1980. Drawing mainly on oral interviews with wives of former African colonial policemen and collaborated by archival evidence, the case study approach to the home crafts movement employed here places at its core the identity and cultural politics which permeated the violent struggle for state power in the decolonisation process particularly of settler colonial states in Africa. Existing research on colonial home craft movements has, until recently, largely been written from the perspectives of sociology and anthropology. Consequently, issues of gender, power, race, class and other interpersonal dynamics-what women thought and did about other women- loom large both in interpretation and analysis. Although making immense contributions to debates on the working of domesticity in private and public colonial spaces, these accounts either under-state or over-generalise the very potent connections and resultant disruptions of the identity politics that permeated the processes of Zimbabwe's decolonisation. By focusing on a single case, I hope to both supplement and interrogate existing narratives through exploring how these identities were formulated, sustained and differed across time, space and various sections of the colonial population. This analytical approach does not only complicate our understanding of the violence associated with the decolonisation of settler colonies, but is also a way to think of the attendant conflicts and compromises between actors during this transitional period and their contribution to the (un)-making of the post-colonial state in Zimbabwe.

panel His03
Alternative histories of decolonisation in Southern Africa