“Yesterday it was One Man One Vote, Today it is One Man One Gun:” Competing Nationalist Narratives and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, 1961-1980
Baker, Nicholas Donald Linwood
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This thesis is a political history of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), a significant, yet neglected, African nationalist party active in Zimbabwe’s liberation war between 1961 and 1980. A political history of ZAPU offers an opportunity to challenge and problematize entrenched narratives which privilege the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) as the singular, legitimate expression of African nationalism during the struggle to end minority rule in Zimbabwe. ZAPU has been criticized by politicians, war veterans, and scholars as a toothless, opportunistic party. This study disrupts this strain of historiography by arguing that ZANU’s victory was far from inevitable. By incorporating ZAPU’s substantial political and military contributions, a clearer picture of African nationalism in Zimbabwe emerges: ZAPU provides historians of Zimbabwe with a discursive tool to explore how resistance to colonial authority involved complex, contested processes, rather than a teleological movement from oppression to independence through a single party.