Original Research

Post-imperial imaginaries in Zimbabwe: Interrogating betrayal in the pre- and post-war years in Chinodya’s Harvest of Thorns and Child of War

Sifiso Sibanda
Literator | Vol 41, No 1 | a1606 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v41i1.1606 | © 2020 Sifiso Sibanda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 March 2019 | Published: 31 March 2020

About the author(s)

Sifiso Sibanda, School of Languages, Faculty of Education, North-West University, Mahikeng, South Africa


Shimmer Chinodya’s novels, Harvest of Thorns and Child of War, indict betrayal in the post-war years of Zimbabwe. The post-war years had potentially promised an imagined realm where black hegemony would supplant white supremacy to establish black utopia. This article examines the angst that follows the post-imperial betrayal of these ideals in Zimbabwe and evaluates the extent to which this betrayal affected the masses after a hard-won independence. It highlights the extent of despair among war veterans and the masses after their marginalisation on the eve of independence. The article further demonstrates how the transmogrification of youth into pseudo-adults during the years of the struggle and their post-independence abandonment caused untold crises in Zimbabwe, highlighting the inconstancy of post-imperial politics in Zimbabwe and in many other African countries. The literature depicting the years of the struggle and post-independence was consulted extensively to interrogate the ideals of independence and how these have been betrayed. The article contends that the nationalist government only succeeded in dislodging the coloniser and started carving a new repressive state apparatus. Benjamin, in Harvest of Thorns, epitomises the bitterness of the guerrillas who are emasculated and pauperised after fighting for freedom in Zimbabwe. Chinodya’s later novels and short stories together with those of his contemporaries from other African countries such as South Africa and Kenya particularly recoil at the intransigence immanent in the new leadership who have marginalised citizens and inaugurated corruption.


Harvest of Thorns; neo-colonialism; betrayal; freedom fighters; liberation; independence.


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