Settlers, Rhodesians, and Supremacists: White Authors and the Fast Track Land Reform Program in Post-2000 Zimbabwe by Tavengwa Gwekwerere, Davie E. Mutasa, Kudakwashe Chitofiri
Texts written by some white Zimbabweans in the post-2000 dispensation are largely shaped by their authors’ endeavor to contest the loss of lands they held prior to the onset of the Fast Track Land Reform Program (FTLRP). Written as memoirs, these texts are bound by the tendency to fall back on colonial settler values, Rhodesian identities, and Hegelian supremacist ideas in their narration of aspects of a conflict in which tropes such as truth, justice, patriotism, and belonging were not only evoked but also reframed. This article explores manifestations of this tendency in Eric Harrison’s Jambanja (2006) and Jim Barker’s Paradise Plundered: The Story of a Zimbabwean Farm (2007). The discussion unfolds against the backdrop of the realization that much of the literary-critical scholarship on land reform in post-2000 Zimbabwe focuses on texts written by black Zimbabweans and does not attend to the panoply of ways in which some white-authored texts yearn for colonial structures of power and privilege. This article evinces that the reincarnation of colonial settler values, Rhodesian identities, and Hegelian supremacist ideas undermines the discourse of white entitlement more than it promotes it. Values and identities of the colonial yesteryear on which this discourse is premised are not only anachronistic in the 21st century; they also obey the self-other binary at the heart of the patriotic history pedestal that was instrumental in the Zimbabwean regime’s post-2000 populist deployment of the land grievance to reconstruct itself as the only and indispensable champion of African interests in Zimbabwe.