The Unbearable Whiteness of Being
284 pages
English
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The Unbearable Whiteness of Being

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284 pages
English

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The history of colonial land alienation, the grievances fuelling the liberation war, and post-independence land reforms have all been grist to the mill of recent scholarship on Zimbabwe. Yet for all that the country�s white farmers have received considerable attention from academics and journalists, the fact that they have always played a dynamic role in cataloguing and representing their own affairs has gone unremarked. It is this crucial dimension that Rory Pilossof explores in The Unbearable Whiteness of Being. His examination of farmers� voices � in The Farmer magazine, in memoirs, and in recent interviews � reveals continuities as well as breaks in their relationships with land, belonging and race. His focus on the Liberation War, Operation Gukurahundi and the post-2000 land invasions frames a nuanced understanding of how white farmers engaged with the land and its peoples, and the political changes of the past 40 years. The Unbearable Whiteness of Being helps to explain why many of the events in the countryside unfolded in the ways they did.

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Publié par
Date de parution 24 avril 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781779221971
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0057€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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The Unbearable
Whiteness of BeingThe Unbearable
Whiteness of Being
Farmers’ Voices from Zimbabwe
Rory PilossofPublished in Zimbabwe
by
Weaver Press
PO Box A1922
Avondale, Harare
Zimbabwe
www.weaverpresszimbabwe.com
Published in South Africa
by
UCT Press
an imprint of Juta and Co. Ltd
1st Floor, Sundare Building
21 Dreyer Street, Claremont
7708 South Africa
www.uctpress.co.za
© Rory Pilossof, 2012
Cover: Danes Design, Harare
Cover photo: David Brazier
Typeset by forzalibro designs
Printed by Academic Press, Cape Town
All rights reserved.
No part of the publication may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by
any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise – without the express
written permission of the publisher
ISBN 978-1-77922-169-8 (Zimbabwe)
I8-1-92409-997-6 (South Africa)Contents
Acknowledgements vii
ixList of Acronyms
xList of Tables, Map & Appendices
xA Note on Currency
xiForeword
1Introduction
Why the Voices of White Farmers?
1
White Farmers & Their Representatives, 1890–2000 11
2
No Country for White Men 43
White Farmers, the Fast-Track Land Reforms
& Jambanja, 2000–2004
3
67Discourses of Apoliticism in The Farmer
4
117Discursive Thresholds & Episodes of Crisis
The Liberation War, Gukurahundi
& the Land Occupations
vThe Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Farmers’ Voices from Zimbabwe
5
149The Consolidation of Voice
White Farmers’ Autobiographies &
The Narration of Experience after 2000
6
187‘Orphans of Empire’
Oral Expressions of Displacement & Trauma
Appendices 214
Bibliography 237
Index 257
Epigraph 266
viAcknowledgements
The research, writing and completion of this book has been aided by a
community of people and institutions to whom a great deal of gratitude
is extended. By far the largest proportion of that thanks is reserved for
Professor Ian Phimister. It is no overstatement to say that without his
support, guidance and counsel, which have been ever-present right from
my undergraduate years at the University of Cape Town, I would not
have had the opportunity to undertake the research necessary to produce
this book.
The generous financial support of several institutions has made this
book possible. Firstly, I am hugely grateful to the Overseas Research
Studentship, and the University of Sheffield Studentship. I also received
grants from the Beit Trust Emergency Support Fund, the Royal
Historical Society Research Funding and The Petrie Watson Exhibition.
Justice for Agriculture generously allowed me access to their interview
archive. The Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe were also
helpful in allowing me to consult their collection of The Farmer magazine.
Furthermore, thanks must go the Research and Advocacy Unit who gave
me the opportunity to explore the stories of white farmers in
Zimbabwe. In Oxford, the Rhodes House Library provided invaluable access to
other records and secondary sources. Chapter 2 draws on an article first
published in the Journal of Developing Societies (26: 71-97, March 2010).
My thanks are also extended to all the farmers I interviewed and
talked to in the process of my research. Many spoke of personal traumas
and events that were difficult to relate, and their courage is exemplary.
Many others have helped me through the last three years. Special
mention must go to Gary Rivett, who provided not only much needed
intellectual stimulation, but ready and welcome relief from my research.
He has contributed in so many ways to the creation and completion of
this book and I thank him dearly for his companionship. I must also
viiThe Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Farmers’ Voices from Zimbabwe
thank Miles Larmer, Mike Rook, Felicity Wood, Ben Purcell Gilpin,
Alois Mlambo, Tony Reeler, Simon de Swardt, Jonathan Saha, Rachel
Johnson, Charles Laurie and Andrew Iliff for their help and assistance.
Weaver Press, and Murray McCartney in particular, have been a pleasure
to work with and their input and attention to detail has vastly improved
the book before you.
I also want to thank my family, Ray and Jayne Pilossof and Shane
Samten Drime “Billy-the-Lionsblood” Pilossof, for humouring me
through this process. And Boo, for all the sacrifices and trying to
understand.
Lastly, I would like to thank Lance van Sittert, without whose
inspiration and mentorship this journey would never have taken place.
viiiList of Acronyms
CCJPZ Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe
CFU Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe
CIO Central Intelligence Organisation
COHRE Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions
CZC Crisis in Zimbabwe Collation
ESAP Economic Structural Adjustment Programme
EU European Union
GAPWUZ General Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union of
Zimbabwe
ICG International Crisis Group
IMF International Monetary Fund
IPFP Inception Phase Framework Plan
JAG Justice for Agriculture
MDC Movement for Democratic Change
MFP Trust Modern Farming Publications Trust
MFU Matabeleland Farmers’ Union
NCA National Constitutional Assembly
NCC National Constitutional Commission
NLHA Native Land Husbandry Act
RAU Research and Advocacy Unit
RF Rhodesian Front
RNFU Rhodesian National Farmers’ Union
RTA Rhodesian Tobacco Association
SI6 Statutory Instrument 6
TRC Truth and Reconciliation Commission
UDI Unilateral Declaration of Independence
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
WB World Bank
ZANLA Zimbabwe National Liberation Army
ZANU Zimbabwe African National Union
ZANU-PF Zimbabwe African National Union –Patriotic Front
ZAPU Zimbabwe African People’s Union
ZCTU Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
ZIPRA Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army
ZJRI Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative
ZNLWVA Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association
ZTA Zimbabwe Tobacco Assocation
ixList of Tables and Map
61.1 The number of registered commercial farms by CFU
administrative province in 2000
141.2 Number of farms and acreage cultivated in Rhodesia,
1904–1922
472.1 Number of farm ‘invasions’ per province in Zimbabwe
753.1 Tag lines of The Farmer, 1942–1982
77]3.2 Editors of The Farmer, 1966–2002
xivMap of Zimbabwe
List of Appendices
1 The organisational structure and past presidents of the CFU 214
2 Land use on large commercial farms, 1970-99 217
3 Summary of major crop sales in Z$ millions, 1970–99 218
4 The number and total area of large-scale farms, 1970–99 219
5 White farmers killed in 1964–79, 1981–87, and 2000–04 220
6 Date of purchase of properties in the 1997 acquisition list 228
7 Biographical data on white farmers interviewed 229
A Note on Currency
Throughout this book I have used the original currencies quoted in
sources and documents referenced. Before independence these were
generally Pounds Sterling (£) and Rhodesian Dollars (R$). After
independence the currency was converted to Zimbabwean Dollars (Z$). For ease
of comparison I have supplied a US$ equivalent, using contemporary
conversion rates.
xForeword
One of the most difficult challenges confronting post-colonial
societies in southern Africa which had a resident white population is how
to redress the inequalities of inherited land ownership and distribution.
Consequently, the governments of Zimbabwe, Namibia and
post-apartheid South Africa have to confront challenges of how to resolve the land
question in a situation where the black majority demands redress of
colonial inequalities and a more equitable racial distribution of land.
With respect to Zimbabwe, in particular, much has been written on
the land question by a wide range of scholars including Robin Palmer,
Henry Moyana, Sam Moyo, Jocelyn Alexander and Ian Phimister. Such
studies have focused, inter alia, on the history of colonial land
alienation, the racialisation of land under various colonial laws, including the
Land Apportionment Act of 1931 and the Native Land Husbandry Act
(NLHA) of 1951, the role of African land grievances in fuelling the
armed liberation struggle of the 1960s and 1970s, the Lancaster House
Constitution’s role in the immediate post-colonial land reform process
and the general inability of the post-colonial government to fully address
the land question by the end of the twentieth century. The farm invasions
from 2000 onwards and the political, social and economic impact of the
chaotic fast-track land redistribution exercise have also been subjected
to scholarly analysis. Until now, therefore, analyses have focused mainly
on how colonial land policies have impacted on the African population,
and the African people’s responses. What has been conspicuously absent
is the voice of white farmers themselves, presenting their perceptions
of the history of the country and the land question and their views on
either the necessity, desirability or the modalities of land redistribution.
In fact, until now, there has been no serious study of how white farmers
articulated their perceptions of their role in and attitudes to these and
other national matters. This is rather surprising given the fact that white
xiThe Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Farmers’ Voices from Zimbabwe
farmers have always been at the centre of the controversies surrounding
the land question in Zimbabwe.
As a keen student of Zimbabwean history and an occasional
contributor to scholarly debates on the country’s recent past, I am particularly
excited by the publication of Rory Pilossof’s book. It breaks new ground
and makes an invaluable contribution to scholarship on Zimbabwe in
general and studies of Zimbabwe’s agrarian history in particular. It
provides the important missing piece to the puzzle of the history of the
land question by examining how white farmers’ perceptions and
representations reflect their attitudes to land, land reforms and the
country’s history, while also providing insights into the ‘role white farmers
themselves have had in the events that have unfolded’. It is vital for this
voice to be heard, for as the author rightly observes, there can be no full
understanding of or solution to the country’s land problem without an
appreciation of the role white farmers have played and what their
perceptions have been.
Pilossof captures the ‘voices’ of this critical segment of the
community extremely well. Always grounded in the social, economic and
political realities of the group under study and the country at large, The
Unbearable Whiteness of Being traces and analyses the ‘ebb and flow of
white farming discourses’ from the 1970s to 2004 and demonstrates
that, while there were many and sometimes competing views on these
and other issues and while white farmers did not always speak with one
voice, there was, nevertheless, ‘a coherent language employed to talk
about events and experiences in Zimbabwe and Rhodesia’; a language
that suggests a distinct sense of identity and view of the country and
makes for a more sophisticated understanding of the white farmer’s role
in its unfolding history.
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding
not only the complexity of the Zimbabwean land question but also how
identities and notions of citizenship are shaped, contested and deployed
in a post-colonial setting. Although Pilossof focuses on Zimbabwe, he
speaks to a much wider readership than those interested in this
country alone. His findings and insights are relevant to southern Africa as a
whole, particularly to those countries where the racialisation of land in
the colonial or apartheid period has raised similar challenges after the
political transition. There too, an understanding of the white discourses
on land and related issues may be crucial in appreciating the dynamics
xiiForeword
at work and in the quest to find a solution to the vexed land question.
A.S. Mlambo
Professor of History
University of Pretoria
South Africa
xiii

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