Negotiating Territoriality in North-Western Zimbabwe: Locating The Multiple-Identities of BaTonga, Shangwe, and Karanga in History
Keywords:Multiple-identities, BaTonga, Shangwe, Karanga, displacement, migration, Zimbabwe, nation-state
Multiple identities are not an event, neither are they overnight occurrences. They undergo constructions and reconstructions over time. The BaTonga, Shangwe, and Karanga speaking people in the Musampakaruma Chiefdom of north-western Zimbabwe are not an exception. Forced colonial displacements and post-independence involuntary (and/or voluntary) migrations resulted in their settling in the Musampakaruma Chiefdom from which they have now come to negotiate for space, and ultimately their identities too, in the Zimbabwean mainstream nation-state making process. For years, these three ethnic groups have had a primodalist alliance to identity wherein their identification with ancestral places of origin appeared to have been common. This, however, has changed as the new terrain has offered them new options prompting rethinking of identity and ethnicity concepts. Using qualitative and historical ethnographic data obtained in Musampakaruma from April to September 2017, this paper reports the historical and contemporary socio-political experiences of the people in the area advancing the multiple identity phenomena. Taking Musampakaruma as a case, the broad nation-state identity is re-engaged in the paper from the perspective of so-called marginalised groups showing that while landscape and socio-ethno-identities are determinants of ‘multi-personalities’, deep theorisation of identity and ethnicity is required in nation-state development because ethnicities are based on interactions resulting in negotiated identities.