The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo

On March 18, 1975, Herbert Chitepo, a Zimbabwean nationalist in exile and chairman of the war council that struggled to liberate Africans in white-ruled Rhodesia, was killed by a car bomb. Since then, there have been four separate published confessions to his assassination and at least as many accusations and innuendos about who was responsible for the crime.

Luise White in The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo, does not set out to resolve questions about who was guilty and who was accountable for this horrible murder. Instead, with a presentation that is as much murder mystery as history writing, she uncovers what is at stake in so many confessions to Chitepo’s murder and why his assassination continues to incite conflict and controversy in Zimbabwe’s national politics today.

Drawing on newspapers, archives, published materials, and her own fieldwork in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Luise White casts doubt on how the several and shifting official accounts of the murder have been put forth.

In doing so, she addresses how national history is written, for whom, and how it is contested, and what is at stake in these contests; she asks how specific ideas about civic culture, ethnicity, and political power became founding myths of the new nation of Zimbabwe.

The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo relates the confessions to Chitepo’s murder to issues and debates that persist in Zimbabwean politics today. Although the truth about the assassination of Herbert Chitepo may never be known, readers will discover how one man’s murder continues to unsettle an entire country.

The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo:
Texts and Politics in Zimbabwe
Luise White
Weaver Press

ISBN 0 253 216080 7


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