FORGING AND IMAGINING THE NATION IN ZIMBABWE: TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF JOSHUA NKOMOAS A NATIONALIST LEADER
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The article depicts the postmodernist theoretical constructs of de-construction and re-construction as well as representation in the analysis of how the legacy of Joshua Nkomo has been repeatedly used by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party to re-imagine the Zimbabwean nation in the 21th century. It argues that Joshua Nkomo political life has suffered three levels of representation shot through with instrumental de-construction and re-construction in the period 1980 to the present. These levels include Joshua Nkomo as the opposition leader of Patriotic Front -Zimbabwe African People's Union (PF-ZAPU) that involved his exclusion and reduction to a 'Father of Dissidents' that was bent on destabilization of Zimbabwe for selfish personal political ambition; selfless nation-builder and the author and signatory of the Unity Accord of 22 December 1987 that brought peace and unity in the country; and finally, as the acknowledged founder of the national liberation struggle, symbol of national unity and posthumously accorded the status of 'Father Zimbabwe' and a hero of heroes with no question in terms of his qualification to be buried in the National Heroes' Acre. The article is therefore about history, exclusionary nationalism, media, biography, representation, hegemony and commemoration, all predicated on the use of Joshua Nkomo in the re-imagination of the Zimbabwean nation against a bed rock of economic crisis and waning legitimacy of nationalist elites under Robert Mugabe. It is about how nationalist heroes are used by ruling elite for political renewal, forging national unity and forging the nation as well as power consolidation.
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