Manufacturing Memory: (Mis)appropriation of history in Chimurenga Documentary Videos


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


English, Media Studies and Linguistics


The use and abuse of history for ideological purposes has dominated scholarly work on post-2000 Zimbabwe. However, most studies focus on the news media, the arts and commemorative events while downplaying documentary videos. This is surprising given that in 2004 the Zimbabwean government, through its News Agency, New Ziana invested huge funds into the production of videos documenting the experiences of surviving veterans of the 1970s-liberation struggle, code-named second Chimurenga (rebellion) narrating their experiences during the bush war. This monograph integrates documentary film theories, Gramsci’s concept of hegemony and visual semiotic theories to illuminate on the power and limits of the documentary video genre as a medium for hegemonic reconstruction of history and memory. It reveals contestations and representational strategies used to construct particular identities of the war hero and how these identities chimed with the official version of history, thereby, illustrating the blurred distinction between documentary and fiction.