Autochthons, strangers, modernising educationists, and progressive farmers: Basotho struggles for belonging in Zimbabwe 1930s-2008
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This thesis uses belonging as an analytical tool to analyse the history of the Basotho community in the Dewure Purchase Areas in Zimbabwe. The thesis analyses how Basotho’s migration history and their experiences with colonial displacements shaped and continue to shape their construction of a sense of belonging. It also examines how Basotho’s purchase of farms in the Dewure Purchase Areas in the 1930s and their establishment of a communally owned farm have played a key role in their struggles for belonging. It also explores the centrality of land, graves, funerals, and religion in the belonging matrix. The study, however, avoids projecting the Basotho community as a monolithic and cohesive unit by analysing the various internal schisms and cleavages within the community and examining their impacts. Although, Basotho have seemingly managed to integrate into the local community, a more critical analysis reveals that they have also continued to maintain a level of particularism. The central dynamic in this thesis, therefore, is how the Basotho, in their different struggles and strategies to belong, over the last century, have fundamentally been caught between being seen and treated as the same as the other people around them and being seen (and seeing themselves) as different. It is arguably this ambivalence or delicate balancing between integrating and remaining ‘outsiders’ that has shaped Basotho’s sense of belonging and determined the strategies they have deployed in different historical contexts. The thesis concludes that, since it is relational and always in a state of becoming, strategies deployed in constructing and articulating belonging constantly change to suit particular historical contexts.