Essays in Zimbabwe’s Urban History

Urban settlement in modern Zimbabwe dates back to the 1890s, when the Pioneer Column established their capital at Fort Salisbury.

Resistance to colonial rule was quick to surface, and much has been written about the fight for Zimbabwe’s independence – particularly the uprisings in 1896/7 and the guerrilla war during the 1960s and 70s that brought independence to the country in 1980. The largely rural focus of operations during these two chimurengas, plus the contested claims over land rights, have tended to overshadow the social and political developments which occurred in the colonial towns and cities.

Sites of Struggle illuminates both the variety and content of these developments: the spaces which were created for Africans in the urbanisation process; the contradictory responses of the colonial state; the effects of rural-urban linkages on labour organisation; and the struggles over the mapping the city along racial, class and gender lines.

History, however, has no closing date. Raftopoulos and Yoshikuni argue that ‘the problems faced by colonial administrators continue to face their post-colonial counterparts, but in exacerbated form.’ Citing critical contemporary responses to the poor provision of health, housing and transport facilities in the cities, they conclude that the ‘urban political revival in the form of trade unions, residents associations, civic groups, NGOs and opposition parties, is a welcome development for democratic politics in Zimbabwe.’

Sites of Struggle: Essays in Zimbabwe’s Urban History
Edited by Brian Raftopoulos and Tsuneo Yoshikuni
Weaver Press

ISBN 0 7974 1984 5

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