Original Research

Reading Zimbabwe’s structural and political violence through the trope of the unnameable and unnamed in Brian Chikwava’s Harare North

Gugulethu Siziba
Literator | Vol 38, No 1 | a1302 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v38i1.1302 | © 2017 Gugulethu Siziba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 April 2016 | Published: 24 February 2017

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Gugulethu Siziba, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Graduate School of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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This article reads Zimbabwe’s structural and physical violence which extends to the country’s diaspora through Brian Chikwava’s novel Harare North (2009). The central argument the article makes is that the unnamed narrator is symbolic of the complex texture of Zimbabwe’s crisis whose most evident characteristics are predatory politics and state-sanctioned violence. The unnamed narrator stands as a core part of the shadowy figures of violence that are unleashed on those who are perceived as anti-state. On the contrary, he also represents the subjectification and precariousness that epitomises being Zimbabwean at this moment in the country’s history. The namelessness also evidences the slipperiness of the crisis and how it resists being made sense of and given form in simplistic ways. Notwithstanding the deformity assailing Zimbabweans as a mark of their country’s failure, the unnamed character also demonstrates the desire to survive under harsh, confused and confusing circumstances.


Brian Chikwava; Green Bomber; unnaming; violence; Zimbabwe


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