Patriotic narratives on national leadership in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) song texts, ca 2000–2017

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 39, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 56–66
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2019.1572323
Author(s): Tavengwa GwekwerereDepartment of Pan-African Studies, USA, Davie E MutasaDepartment of African Languages, South Africa, Douglas MpondiDepartment of Africana Studies, USA, Believe MubonderiDepartment of Languages and Literatures, Zimbabwe


The national leadership question in post-2000 Zimbabwe can be examined using the rhetoric of the politicians involved and the song texts of their supporters. This article focuses on selected ZANU-PF and MDC song texts with a view to demonstrating that both ZANU-PF and MDC rely on the logic of mutual exclusion in policing inter- and intra-party national leadership contestations. Through an analysis of images and viewpoints deployed in the selected songs to depict the qualities of political leaders in ZANU-PF and MDC as antithetical, the article argues that the musicians’ reluctance and/or failure to rise above the myth of the leaders of their respective political parties as the best ever to emerge in Zimbabwean politics serves to oversimplify a highly intricate national political question. Inter alia, the article addresses the volition in scholarship on contemporary Zimbabwe to exclusively associate patriotic narratives with ZANU-PF, in addition to challenging Zimbabweans to think beyond identities that limit them as members of specific political parties.

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