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Special Issue on New Perspectives on World War Two In West Africa

Enock Ndawana and Mediel Hove

Abstract

This article examines the role of traditional leaders during Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. Contrary to the generalisations that traditional leaders and their subordinates were either absolutely supportive of the liberation war or were against it supporting the Smith regime, this paper uses the case of Buhera District to demonstrate that traditional leaders and their subordinates contributed in various ways to Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. Guided by a combination of primary and secondary sources, the article argues that traditional leaders were in a dilemma because they were victims of the contending forces. However, they employed various survival tactics as they faced equally dangerous conflicting forces who put them in complex, ambiguous and contradictory relationships. The article concludes that the strategies and tactics employed by the Rhodesian Security Forces and the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army guerrillas had debilitating effects on traditional leaders and their subordinates during the liberation war.