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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Nehanda and gender victimhood in the central MaShonaland 1896-97 rebellions: revisiting the evidence
Author:Charumbira, RuramisaiISNI
Year:2008
Periodical:History in Africa
Volume:35
Pages:103-131
Language:English
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:First Chimurenga
historiography
women
gender discrimination
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/history_in_africa/v035/35.charumbira.pdf
Abstract:In 1998, David N. Beach revisited the 1896-1897 central MaShonaland uprising in colonial Zimbabwe. His main thesis was that, contrary to conventional wisdom that placed Nehanda-Charwe, a medium of the Nehanda Mhondoro Spirit, at the centre of those anti-European settler rebellions, she might have been 'an innocent woman unjustly accused'. For Beach, upstart Kaguvi-Gumboreshumba (a male spiritual leader) might have been the real hero. The present paper, which revisits the history of early colonial Zimbabwe through feminist lenses, is a response to Beach's study. It looks at the credibility of evidence given by Africans to colonial officials, with a focus on women's testimonies. Furthermore, the paper examines the arrest and trial of Nehanda-Charwe and Kaguvi, with an emphasis on Beach's argument that witnesses against Nehanda-Charwe were men, and those sitting on the court bench were men, and so she was a scapegoat for colonial inefficiency. The paper argues that the biggest hole in Beach's argument about Nehanda-Charwe being a 'victim' of gender bias lies in the fact that he did not consider the larger canvas of women's and gender history before and during the uprisings to articulate Nehanda-Charwe's actions better. The present paper revisits the evidence to find other women's voices, so that Nehanda-Charwe's voice gets a woman's and gendered context through which her actions can be better understood. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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