Making heroes, (un)making the nation?: ZANU-PF’s imaginations of the Heroes' Acre, heroes and construction of identity in Zimbabwe from 2000-

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: This article explores the post 2000 national identity formation through the use of national heroes narrative and the Heroes’ Acre shrine in Zimbabwe. The Heroes’ Acre marks the country’s physical reminder of the past and acts as a tool for national identity and its symbolic maintenance through state presided rituals that happen at the shrine. Attached to the Heroes’ Acre as a permanent physical symbol of nationhood are the people the burial site was built for –the heroes, that is, the ‘war’ dead and the living who participated in the country’s liberation ‘war’. The argument made in this paper is that the definition and usages of heroes and Heroes’ Acre has mutated over the years to suit ZANU-PF’s shifting political agendas. Specifically the article addresses questions around conferment of a hero’s status on the dead, access to the Heroes’ Acre and the meanings of these to the emotive issue of nurturing a monolithic Zimbabwean national identity as imagined by ZANU-PF. The article concludes that the elite’s uses of the Heroes’ Acre and heroes’ status which excludes democratic public participation has served to carve a skewed and narrow narrative on the meaning of Zimbabweanness meant to bolster ZANU-PF’s hegemony. National identities, the article argues, are transient and always changing.