Traces, Tracks and Trails: Documented and Documenting Bulawayo, 1870 to 1980


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




The Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo became a colonial town on 4 November 1894 and a city in 1943. By 1980 when Zimbabwe attained independence, Bulawayo had become a bustling regional centre of strategic commercial importance. Most research about Bulawayo starts in 1893 when the colonial flag was raised over the smouldering huts of Lobengula’s great city of huts. Researching Bulawayo this way suggests that there was no urban life before the establishment of the colonial town. Available documents show that this view is false and misleading. My proposed book manuscript seeks to (re)examine selected auto/biographies, letters, diaries and other written documents that present personal histories that seek to articulate the historicity of their authors’ Bulawayo situatedness. The focus is on texts that purport to give an objective view of various facets of the city of Bulawayo from the time it was founded by king Lobengula in 1870 up to 1980.