"Ruled Like Tame Animals": Acts of a Faceless Government

Part Five of Mothers of the Revolution: Oral Testimony of Zimbabwean Women

Irene Staunton: Publishing Director, Baobab Books

The women may have been the backbone to their families and it is interesting to note how many strong resilient suffering women have been written about in our literature: Marita in Bones; Zhiza's grandmother in Under the Tongue; Old Mandiza in 'The Homecoming' (Walking Still) to name but a few. Their day to day lives were hard, and they were often made harder by government officials, government edicts, which seemed or which were arbitrary and incomprehensible to them.

Long ago we were just ordered to dig [contour ridges] but we did not understand why. We thought the authorities only wanted to trouble us and so we didn't dig contour ridges. My husband was arrested and taken to prison because he refused to dig contours. The war was fought because of this. --Anna Madzorera (117)

The resettlement which disrupted people's lives which has also been eloquently explored in Shadows by Chenjerai Hove when Johana's family are moved to Gotami's land and feel a terrible dislocation. Anna Madzorera remembers that:

The government forced us to leave Roseday. They sent the police with big lorries to move our property ... they forced us into other lorries ... they had to force us as we had not agreed to move to a place we did not know ... the police just threw our things into the trucks. They were very rough ... --Anna Madzorera (113)

At that time we were ruled like tame animals. We did not have the opportunity to do things on our own ... as a result we had no chance to prove ourselves worthy people.--Thema Khumalo (74)

Zimbabwe OV Literature [Politics]