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Muchongoyo and Mugabeism in Zimbabwe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2017


This article explores the influence of nationalism and modernity in contemporary Zimbabwe and on the musical lives of Zimbabweans through an examination of muchongoyo, the signature dance–drumming tradition of Zimbabwe’s Ndau communities. Invoking the concept of “Mugabeism,” it illustrates how Shona nationalism and expectations of modernity have partially reshaped muchongoyo in the turmoil of contemporary Zimbabwe. As indigenous practices serve political ends, their values shift. Consequently, there are now two muchongoyos : one rooted in the unique history and values of Zimbabwe’s Ndau community, the other emerging from decades of political employment of indigenous music for the sake of nationalist discourse.


Cet article étudie l’influence du nationalisme et de la modernité au Zimbabwe contemporain et sur la vie musicale des Zimbabwéens à travers un examen du muchongoyo, la danse tambour de signature traditionnelle des communautés Ndau du Zimbabwe. Invoquant la notion de “mugabisme,” cet article illustre comment le nationalisme Shona et les attentes de la modernité ont partiellement remodelée muchongoyo et, dans la tourmente, le Zimbabwe contemporain. Comme les pratiques autochtones servent à des fins politiques, leurs valeurs changent. Par conséquent, il y a maintenant deux muchongoyos: l’un fondé dans l’histoire unique et les valeurs de la collectivité de Ndau du Zimbabwe, l’autre émergeant de décennies de politique d’emploi de musique autochtone dans un souci de discours nationaliste.

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