The Politics of Language and Nationality in Zimbabwe: Nation Building or Empire Building?

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Ndhlovu, Finex (2008) The Politics of Language and Nationality in Zimbabwe: Nation Building or Empire Building? South African Journal of African Languages, 28 (1). pp. 1-10. ISSN 0257-2117


This article discusses the intersections of language, identity formation and nation building in Zimbabwe. The article argues that political aspirations for empire building by the ruling elite have come to be popularized and legitimized as language policy and nation building initiatives in postcolonial Zimbabwe. While Zimbabwe is characterized by a high degree of linguistic pluralism and cultural diversity, it is only the Shona and Ndebele languages (mother tongues of the ruling elite) that continue to be promoted and propagated as the rallying point for the country's perceived postcolonial nation building project. This drive for exclusionary postcolonial nation building has led to the unprecedented constriction of educational and economic opportunities for speakers of socio-politically 'weak' or 'minority' languages. Drawing on insights from the constructivist perspective on the nation and national identity, the article reinterprets the politics of language and identity formation in postcolonial Zimbabwe.

Item type Article
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Historical > FOR Classification > 2004 Linguistics
Historical > SEO Classification > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Keywords ResPubID16533, identity formation, nation building, empire building, ruling elite, language policy, postcolonial Zimbabwe, linguistic pluralism, Shona language, Ndebele language, exclusion of 'minority' languages
Citations in Scopus 8 - View on Scopus
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