Violence and Memory in Breaking the Silence of Gukurahundi: A Case Study of the ZAM in Johannesburg, South Africa

  • Duduzile S. Ndlovu
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS, volume 24)


Following conflict, societies are confronted by the question of how they should deal with their violent and traumatic past. The need for testimony and public witness to experiences of violence has been documented in different studies. This chapter examines how victims make sense of a violent past that has not been officially acknowledged. The Gukurahundi is socio-political violence, which occurred in the southern and western parts of Zimbabwe in the 1980s. It is estimated that 20,000 people were killed and some disappeared over a period of about 7 years (1981–1987). Since the end of the violence no apology or restitution has been offered to the victims. The government has prevented any remembering or commemoration of the violence. Using the Zimbabwe Action Movement (ZAM) as a case study the chapter explores the ways in which people seek wellbeing through inserting memories of their past into the public narrative. The researcher attended ZAM meetings, conducted in-depth interviews, reviewed organisational material, as well as their recorded songs. Membership of ZAM, for the second-generation victims, living in Johannesburg, facilitated coping with the violence through providing space to speak out using music and plays. It also provided a space for mutual support among members focusing not only on the past experiences but also the present predicament of being a migrant in South Africa.


Global Community Opposition Party Reconciliation Commission Rwandan Genocide Ethnic Polarisation 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.African Centre for Migration & SocietyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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