Gramsci, Doke and the marginalisation of the Ndebele language in Zimbabwe

Full text for this resource is not available from the Research Repository.

Ndhlovu, Finex (2006) Gramsci, Doke and the marginalisation of the Ndebele language in Zimbabwe. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 27 (4). pp. 305-318. ISSN 01434632


Clement M. Doke's 1929-1930 research on Zimbabwean languages has played a key role in shaping the tribalised and politicised linguistic terrain that characterises modern Zimbabwe. Doke, professor of linguistics at the University of Witwaters-rand, was commissioned in 1929 by the government of Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) to research the language varieties spoken by Zimbabwean natives. His work, which was premised on the quest for standardised, monolithic and homogeneous linguistic categories, marked the genesis of language politics in Zimbabwe. The Dokean legacy left an indelible mark on the terrain of language treatment and language policy formulation in postcolonial Zimbabwe. This paper uses Antonio Gramsci's hegemony theory to interrogate and problematise the contribution of Doke's pioneering work to language politics and language marginalisation in Zimbabwe. Gramsci's theory of hegemony posits that dominant social groups impose their supremacy over weaker groups either by overt coercion or by using more intellectual means of realising their dominance. The paper concludes by observing that the marginalisation of Ndebele in contemporary Zimbabwe cannot be fully understood outside the context of this Dokean legacy.

Dimensions Badge

Altmetric Badge

Item type Article
DOI 10.2167/jmmd445.1
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2099 Other Language, Communication and Culture
Historical > FOR Classification > 2004 Linguistics
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Keywords ResPubID16646, language politics, language marginalisation, language policy, hegemony, multilingualism, cultural diversity
Citations in Scopus 36 - View on Scopus
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login