The Zimbabwean Ideology of Chimurenga

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The previous chapter critically explored related literature that portrays Pungwe meetings during Chimurenga War. While recognising the number of trajectories of African literature’s scholarship, this study chooses an approach that embraces the descriptive detail on how to grapple with the chosen body of literature through the carnivalesque theory. The aim of this chapter is to provide an alternative approach to redefining socio-political commitment through “a range of traditional art forms and contemporary mutually allusive heteroglossic dialogisms” manifested in the chosen Shona literature (Mhlambi, 2012:9). In this chapter, the different elements that make the theory of the carnivalesque unique are identified and appropriate for the purpose of analysing the depiction of Pungwe in the Shona novel and Chimurenga songs. It is shown that theoretically, the role of the carnival spirit, typifies the Pungwe’s revolutionary potential which had enormous power “to consecrate inventive freedom, and to permit the combination of a variety of different elements and their rapprochement, to liberate from the prevailing point of view of the world, from conventions and established truths, from clichés, from all that is humdrum and universally accepted” (Bakhtin, 1984a:34).
As pointed out above, this chapter uses critical insights from the carnivalesque theory elaborated by Bakhtin in his books entitled The Dialogic Imagination (1981) and Rabelais and his World (1984a) as seriocomic genres that provide carnival laughter. Bakhtin’s carnivalesque laughter and elaborates significant new strains in Bakhtinian (1984b:106) thinking because:
A literary genre, by its very nature, reflects the most stable, “eternal” tendencies in literature’s development [but]… Genre is reborn and renewed at every new stage in the development of literature and in every individual work of a given genre. This constitutes the life of the genre. Therefore even the archaic elements preserved in a genre are not dead but eternally alive… Genre is capable of guaranteeing the unity and uninterrupted continuity of this development. For the correct understanding of a genre, therefore, it is necessary to return to its sources.
The Pungwe characterise the form and content in the selected carnivalesque narratives.Kristeva adds to the concept of the open-endedness of literary genres and notes that:
Academic discourse, and perhaps [African literary] discourse in particular, possess an extraordinary ability to absorb, digest, and neutralize all of the key, radical, dramatic moments of thought, particularly, a fortiori, of contemporary thought (Kristeva, 1983:12).
The important markers of genres are its capacity to “absorb, digest” and anticipate radical values that can enrich the explanatory values of the theory of the carnivalesque. Put differently, the complexity of Pungwe as liminal spaces where new identities are reconstructed can only be explained dialogically by a theory that recognises the multiple forms through which the ideas created in the process of interpretation.

The Bakhtin’s theory of the carnival

Theories provide a method of understanding the major concerns to be diagnosed. A theory should therefore be read, understood and comprehended in certain ways that enable theorising on the part of the users who in turn would be able to unlock the mysteries of the literary texts. Literary study, criticism and appreciation will go on unimpeded. The Shona novel genre is chosen in this study in order to tap Bakhtin’s carnivalesque’s modes to “its stylistic multi-dimensionality, which is linked with the multi-languaged consciousness realized in the novel” (Moraru, 2001:209-10). This consciousness’ heteroglot configuration takes into consideration Bakhtin’s seminal assimilation discourse of othering especially in the case of the chosen Zimbabwean war literature, namely Chiwome’s Masango Mavi (1998), Nyawaranda’s Mutunhu Une Mago (1985), Makari’s Zvaida Kushinga (1985), Musengezi’s Zvairwadza Vasara (1984), Chimhundu’s Chakwesha (1991) and Choto’s Vavariro (1990):
The prose writer as a novelist does not strip away the intentions of others from the heteroglot language of his works, he does not violate those social-ideological cultural horizons (big and little worlds) that open up behind heteroglot languages – rather, he welcomes them into his work. The prose writer makes use of words that are already populated with the social intentions of others and compels them to serve his own new intentions, to serve a second master. Therefore the intentions of the prose writer are refracted, and refracted at different angles, depending on the degree to which the refracted, heteroglot languages he deals with are socio-ideologically alien, already embodied and already objectivized (Moraru, ibid: 209-10).
The Bakhtinian ‘other’ was closely examined in subsequent chapters. Criticism was not only corrective, censorious, prescriptive, moral and ideological but it is the reader’s reaction to the reactions to the chosen body of Shona literature that will transform the works of art into a war event by assigning meaning to it. The war reality of the Shona novel is “only one of many possible realities; it is not inevitable, not arbitrary, it bears within itself other possibilities” (Bakhtin, 1981:37). Respect should be given to the authors’ ways of treating their subject matter. The opening of another possibility was the development of a paradigm shift from hermeneutic to a semiotic method of inquiry which was deemed a “triumph of theory” that obliterated literary criticism:
For what was at stake was the capacity of theory, not merely to describe, not even to control and correct, but to dictate practice, to prescribe it in the fullest sense of the word. And by the end of the decade . . . the battle had been all but won, the triumph of theory assured. Theory, that is, had established itself as not only a legitimate literary-critical activity, but its guiding light (Frye, 1957:28).
Bakhtinian carnivalesque came to rescue this theoretical lacuna in literature. It is not common to find research studies in literature without the grounding of theory. Literary theory and criticism have, over the ages, come to play a key role in the academic study circles. The theories’ diversity and often apparently contending or irreconcilable approaches, perspectives, and modes of inquiry that continue to flourish today under the generic label “theory” have brought most scholars to a rude awakening at the same time to a welcome awareness of the significance of major concerns in critical practice. Some of these critics would claim that theory is not necessary, because research should be focused on answering specific questions that would more likely appeal to literary critics and practitioners. Nevertheless, theory-driven research has advantages for the development and growth especially of the discipline of African Literature. Bakhtin’s work defies categorisation when he posited that the form, content and meanings of language are constantly shaped by history and culture. The chosen novels prominently highlights Zimbabwe’s Chimurenga War “as an anti-colonial struggle and as a period of political and ethical rapture” whose “multi-dimesional thrust inscribes a variety of narratives that criss-cross in ironic juxtaposition. It is thus a drama of community resistance…” imbued with an African cultural consciousness well articulated in a language that can be comprehended easily (Wilson-Tagoe, 2002:163).
Among Bakhtin’s most influencial concepts are heteroglossia, the idea that culture and its narratives, no matter how monolithic they appear, are comprised of polyphony of competing voices. Dialogism is another feature of the carnivalesque which holds that culture is inherently responsive and interactive, involving individuals acting and reacting at a particular point in time and space. The carnivalesque is a subversive mixing of high and low cultures that undermines social hierarchies and opens the way for change and new connections. The Pungwe became platforms where ordinary people and fighters for freedom were disciplined without fear or favour and examples will be furnished in subsequent chapters. This judicious application of Bakhtin’s theory to the Shona novels celebrated the parodic and fragmentary forms during Chimurenga War. These Bakhtinian terms helped the researcher to reveal how the Shona novels form parodies or are parodied by Pungwe. This provides new ways of reading marginalised or neglected African literature, in particular Shona one. One cannot recuperate stable and unadulterated versions of Pungwe in the novel due to the ideological view of the authors in question. The chapter obliterates the current theoretical paralysis that surrounds studies in African literature by conceptualising the Bakhtinian theory in which terms the current researcher used to examine the efficacy of Pungwe meetings. The research articulated an underlying theory for this study to be meaningful. A consideration of prominent literary theories typical of Bakhtin’s carnival, demonstrates the power of theory-based research like this current study.

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Pungwe: Theatre for Social Reconstruction

When Bakhtin developed the first of his global novelistic concepts of the chronotope, it was to illuminate the concept of time and space in the artistic realm. By chronotope, it literally means, “time space.” For Bakhtin, artistic works typical of the chosen body of Shona literature are an embodiment of certain spatial and temporal postulations. He writes in “Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel: Notes toward a Historical Poetics” that, “every entry into the sphere of meanings is accomplished only through the gates of the chronotope” (Bakhtin, 1981: 258). It is within this framework that Bakhtin maps the linkage that exists between humankind and literary time and space, with the observation that each major historical epoch’s works, like this chosen body of literature; reflect, exude and reify a certain perception of humankind’s existence in the spatial / temporal realm. The Shona novels depict an historical period during Zimbabwe’s protracted liberation struggle, which in Bakhtin’s view of the novel in general, got its prominence as a form when it firstly welcomed real historical time over prior fragmented and disjointed representations.
This research offers a possible alternative avenue to explore during the performances of the improvisational forms, such as Pungwe, which is closely related to the critical work of the Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin. His model of theatre and the new novel on one hand, and an appreciation of the global concepts contained therein on the other, provide a positive guideline for what spontaneous theatre like Pungwe is and does, rather than what it is not and does not in comparison to the scripted sphere. The carnivalesque modes of the chronotope, prosaic and dialogism all provide insightful observations into the potential energies of an otherwise often looked-down-upon indigenous form of performance. Though developed originally as descriptive apparatus for the contemporary novel, Bakhtin’s powerful lenses provide a new way of seeing and appreciating improvisational theatre like the Pungwe. Furthermore, an application of these suggestive modes to the site of Pungwe will not only enrich an understanding of this radical political form and its core values, but also places it firmly and appropriately in a Chimurenga War historical tradition of improvisational community-based theatre forms. It is through this research that a refocused Bakhtinian novelistic investigation will necessitate an image of a politically charged theatre to emerge from the war.

1.1 Preamble
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Aim of the Study
1.4 Justification of the Study
1.5 Literature Review
1.6 Research Methodology
1.7 Theoretical Framework: Theorising Pungwe on Bakhtinian Carnivalesque Lens
1.8 Scope of the study
1.9 Definition of Terms
1.10 Chapter Organisation
1.11 Conclusion
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Theoretical Repertoire at Pungwe Defined
2.3 The Zimbabwean Ideology of Chimurenga
2.4 Pungwe and the Pre-Colonial Existence of African Theatre
2.5 Pungwe: Patriotic History and the Trajectories of Nationalism
2.6 Theorising the Interface between Pungwe and the Shona Novel
2.7 The Gaps in scholarship that this Research ought to fill
2.8 Conclusion
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Bakhtin’s theory of the Carnival
3.3 Pungwe: Theatre for Social Reconstruction
3.4 Bakhtins’s Concept of Heteroglossia
3.5 Bakhtin’s Theory of Carnivale/ Carnivalesque
3.6 Carnivalesque, the Pungwe and the Shona Novel
3.7 Bakhtin’s Concept of the Chronotope
3.8 Bakhtin’s Concept of Dialogsm
3.9 Conclusion
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Research Approach and Design
4.3 Qualitative Method
4.4 The Power, significance and relevance of qualitative method to this study
4.5 Novels to be analysed
4.6 Conclusion
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Pungwe as popular Public Sphere
5.3 The Depiction of setting up Pungwe.
5.4 The relationship between the masses and the guerrillas at the Pungwe
5.5 Pungwe and depiction of Conscientisation sessions in the Shona Novel
5.6 Pungwe and the peasant consciousness during the struggle as depicted in the Shona Novel
5.7 Pungwe and punishment in the Shona Novel
5.8 Pungwe and the depiction of ZANLA disciplinary code of conduct in the Song “Nzira Dzemasoja Dzekuzvibata Nadzo”
5.9 Pungwe as Theatre of the Oppressed
5.10 Pungwe Songs as popular festivals in the Shona Novels
5.11 Pungwe’s Double voicedness in the Shona Novels.
5.12 Carnival and carnivalesque laughter in Shona novels
5.13 Pungwe’s Festive laughter that Liberates
5.14 Crowning and Decrowning in the Shona Novel
5.15 Songs and grotesque Realism
5.16 Festive carnival and Food
5.17 Elements of costume and masking in the Shona Novel
5.18 Conclusion
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Discussion: Pungwe, carnivalesque, popular public sphere and the Shona novel. 164
6.3 The depiction of the setting up of the Pungwe in the Shona novel
6.4 Discussion: The relationship between the masses and the guerrillas at the Pungwe in the Shona novel
6.5 Pungwe as theatre of the oppressed in Shona novel
6.6 Discussion: Pungwe songs, grotesque realism and popular festivals in the Shona novel
6.7 Critical discussion on conclusions to findings of the study.
6.8 Findings on Pungwe’s repertoire and social heteroglessia
6.9 Findings on Pungwe’s interconnectedness with ontic aspects of communication. 179
6.10 Findings on mujibhas and chimbwidos: Generational gap
6.11 Findings on spirituality during Chimurenga War
6.12 Conclusion
7.1. Introduction
7.2. Conclusions and findings of the Study
7.3 The study’s contribution to scholarship on the Pungwe and the Shona novel
7.4 Recommendations

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