Environment and Social Memories: Responses to Involuntary Resettlement in North-Western Zimbabwe, c. 1900-2000


Dr. Ivan Marowa

Research Area:


This research is premised on the colonial removal of the Dandawa Korekore from the Zambezi Valley in 1958 for resettlement in the Rengwe communal lands. This relocation was not unique as this was a widespread phenomenon in eastern and southern Africa beginning in the 1930s onwards. In fact D.A. Low and A. Smith describe this period as the ‘second colonial occupation’ of Africa where there was great intensification of colonial government activities towards development, human and economic investments and ‘detribalisation’ of the Africans (Low and Smith, 1976: 13). The Zambezi valley was considered not fit for human habitation and was eyed for possible economic opportunity through its abundant game. This research is therefore an examination into the production of social memories among the Dandawa Korekore of the period before the relocation and how they remember this in the present. The objective is to understand how the present has acted on the memories of the past and how the past is represented in the present. The research also examines contestations present in these memories. Memory is not static and as Stevenson puts it ‘the past is myself, my own history, the seed of my present thoughts, the mould of my present disposition’ (Tonkin, 1992: 1). In this analysis two aspects stand out significant, which are, the issue of place and the development of myths. The research examines how place (environment and landscape) is important to the people and how the environment is used as an instrument for the production of memory and myths and trying to deconstruct the myths. Secondly, the research is about the history of development as relocation occurred against a background of colonial development considering the perceptions involved.