Identity, agency and development: the case of the Zambezi Valley

Bernard Manyena

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Much ink has been spilt in constructing and (re)presenting the Zambezi Valley Tonga in Zimbabwe using a deficit model of vulnerability to natural and anthropogenic stresses and shocks. Common, but rather demeaning descriptions and labels of the Zimbabwean Tonga include, ‘marginalised’, ‘isolated’, ‘poor’, ‘backward’, ‘minority ‘, ‘primitive’, ‘dangerous’, and ‘two-toed people’. These descriptions have far reaching implications not only on the identity of the Zimbabwean Tonga but also on the development interventions that aim at addressing deprivation in the Zambezi valley. Development interventions tend to adopt a mapenzi or buyumuyumu (problem) approach rather than building on the bukkale bwesu (local systems). Absent in the literature is the Tonga’s resilience and self-agency in negotiating ‘reversals’ to these socially constructed representations which are also manifest in development interventions. Using secondary data as well as ‘lived experience’, this paper explores the Zimbabwean Tonga’s self-agency in enhancing their resilience to socio-economic and environmental challenges. For nearly thirty years since Zimbabwe’s independence, self-agency has been visible around consistent issues: vulnerability reduction to poverty and hunger; recognition of Tonga language as one of the national language; and expansion of the political space of the Tonga.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2008
EventTonga Timeline: Appraising 60 years of multidisciplinary research in Southern Province, Zambia - Zambart House, Lusaka Zambia
Duration: 27 Jun 2008 → …

Conference

ConferenceTonga Timeline: Appraising 60 years of multidisciplinary research in Southern Province, Zambia
Period27/06/08 → …

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