Accepted Paper:

Contesting marginalisation during the colonial period: Indigenous people's contestation of the establishment of Gonarezhou National Park in south-eastern Zimbabwe  


Baxter Tavuyanago (Great Zimbabwe University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the protest relations that characterized the interaction of the Tsonga people of southern Zimbabwe and the Rhodesian government during the colonial period following the declaration of the area as a game park in 1934

Paper long abstract:

In 1934, the Rhodesian government declared a vast forest area located on the south-eastern corner of the country as a national park, the Gonarezhou National Park. The place was, thereafter, reserved exclusively for nature as the indigenous Tsonga people who had lived in the area for over a century were forcibly removed and settled on marginal lands abutting the park. Subsequent to that, high protective fences were erected right round the game sanctuary in what was called fortress conservation. The fences were supported by a battery of protective laws directed at safeguarding the animal sanctuary, effectively barring the indigenous people from accessing its resources as they had done in the past. This paper examines the contest that characterised relations between the Tsonga people and the state over their eviction and their forced resettlement on lands they considered marginal. The paper essentially immerses itself in the contradictory discourse of fencing out communities in order to protect game. It illustrates how the different forms of the local people's protest that encompassed poaching put the entire game scheme into peril between 1934 and 1980. Fundamentally, the paper attempts to understand how the erection of the game sanctuary on a piece of land that the Tsonga considered to be their birth right created irreconcilable differences between the belligerents and how that in turn engendered a perpetual struggle between them during the above mentioned period.

Panel P141
Lines of Control - Lines of Desire: Towards an Integrated History of Fencing in Southern Africa