Almost every anti-colonial struggle this century has been led by an army of guerrillas. No such struggle has succeeded without a very high degree of cooperation between guerrillas and the local peasantry. But what does "cooperation" between peasants and guerrillas really consist of? What effect does it have on the way they view the world for which they fight?
In the struggle for Zimbabwe (1966-80), hundreds of thousands of peasants provided the guerrillas with practical help and support. But they went a good deal further. Throughout the country scores of spirit mediums, the religious leaders of Shona, gave active support to resistance. With their participation, the scale of the war expanded into an astonishing act of collaboration between ancestors and their descendants, the past and the present, the living and the dead.
This book is a detailed study of one key "operational zone" in the Zambezi valley. It shows that to understand the meaning the war and independence have for the people of Zimbabwe themselves, we must take into account not only the nationalist guerrillas and politicians, the bearers of guns, but also the mediums of the spirits of the Shona royal ancestors, the bringers of rain.
List of Figures, Maps and Plates
Part I. The Operational Zone
1. Guerrillas and Mediums
2. The People and the Land
Part II. The Lions of Rain
3. The Land and the Dead
4. The Great Spectacle of the Past
5. The Valley of Affines
6. The Country of Kin
Part III. The Sons of the Soil
7. The Coming of the Guerrillas
8. The Legitimacy of Resistance
9. From Chiefs to Guerrillas
10. The Politics of Tradition
Part IV. To Zimbabwe and Beyond
11. The Ancestors and the Party
12. The Ancestors and the State
Appendix: Methodology and Sources
David Lan, playwright and social anthropologist, was born in South Africa in 1952 and has been based in England since 1972. He was awarded his doctorate by the London School of Economics (LSE). His plays for the theater include "Painting a Wall," "Red Earth," "The Winter Dancers," "Sergeant Ola and his Followers," and for television; "The Sunday Judge."
"This book makes us understand an historical event of world importance, the liberation of Zimbabwe, from the point of view of ordinary people...It is not only a specific study of great brilliance but also a model which shows how anthropology can contribute to politics and history."—Maurice Bloch, Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics, in his preface to this book