Migrant Communities' Coping with Socio-Political Violence: A Case Study of Zimbabwe Action Movement in Johannesburg, South Africa

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Migrant Communities' Coping with Socio-Political Violence: A Case Study of Zimbabwe Action Movement in Johannesburg, South Africa
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   Migrant Communities  Coping with Socio-Political Violence:A Case Study of Zimbabwe Action Movement in Johannesburg,South Africa Duduzile S Ndlovu A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of Witwatersrand, in partialfulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Forced MigrationStudies Johannesburg, 2010  ii  Abstract  This dissertation is based on a qualitative study conducted in Johannesburg to explore themeanings that a group of Zimbabwean migrants attach to experiences of socio-politicalviolence, called Gukurahundi. Violence has been shown to have traumatic consequences, butthe meaning of the trauma is mediated by the context in which it occurs further on meaningshave been shown to be central to the healing strategies and mechanisms employed to copewith the effects of the violence. Text from in-depth interviews and songs composed byparticipants in this study formed the narrative text of experiences of violence that wasanalysed using narrative methods. Key interpretations of the Gukurahundi violence found inthis study were framed in political terms and coping strategies employed were also political.Coping is linked to the meanings attached to experiences and thus responding to sociopolitical violence requires a consideration of the context and the meanings attached if it is tobe relevant.  iii Declaration I declare that this dissertation is my own unaided work. It is submitted for the degree of Master of Arts in Forced Migration Studies in the University of Witwatersrand,Johannesburg. It has not been submitted before for any other degree or examination in anyother university.__________________________________(Name of Candidate)___________day of_____________________, 2010  iv Preface I began this research as a Ndebele, more precisely a Kalanga woman, because I was takenaback by the outspokenness and passion with which people that have participated in thisstudy talked about Gukurahundi . As a child I never heard much about Gukurahundi . It wasnot a subject openly spoken of. This study has brought a new perspective to manyexperiences I had as a child while growing up in Matabeleland. I remember my grandmotherwho always referred to that time when she was beaten up until she lost her hearing. Iremember being warned never to marry a Shona man because they can never be trusted, asmost of the perpetrators of  Gukurahundi were Shona.After I commenced this study I decided to informally interview my parents, out of curiositythough I did not expect them to have any dramatic experiences related to Gukurahundi  because they had never talked about them. To my surprise my father related his experiencesof how just one decision is what saved his life. My mother related the horror of seeing peoplebeing led away and knowing she would never see them alive again.As one of the interviewees said to me Gukurahundi is still there and living in us. Gukurahundi lives though it is inconspicuous and continues to haunt the many that lost theirrelatives and friends.This dissertation is my contribution in my own way to a memorial of  Gukurahundi .To the many sons and daughters that were silenced forever.To my grandmother.To members of ZAM, someday may someone hear your voices.  v  Acknowledgements First and foremost my sincere gratitude goes to the Zimbabwe Action Movement memberswho gladly agreed to participate in this study and gave of their time to be interviewed andshare with me their stories. I would like to mention by name Bongani Ncube who was thelink between me and members of the ZAM, your creativity and boldness inspire me.I would like to acknowledge the exceptional and invaluable guidance with patience offeredby my supervisors Dr I. Palmary and Dr L. Nunez. You have patiently guided me throughthis journey. I would not have been able to come this far without your expertise and counsel,thank you.To my colleagues and friends Barbra, Kathryn and Godfrey for being there for me to bounceoff my ideas and urging me to go on when I thought this was beyond me.Last but not least, to my husband, for your faith in me, understanding when I needed time towork and your support in transcribing and bouncing off ideas about the translation of texts,thank you.
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