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In: Worlds of Human Rights
In: Competing Jurisdictions
Conflicts about Land in Dande, Northern Zimbabwe
This book describes efforts by the Zimbabwean government to enforce land reforms on African farmers in northern Zimbabwe. These efforts compounded rather than alleviated the problem of land scarcity for black small-scale farmers, a problem government now allegedly seeks to redress through invasions of white-owned farms. The book describes the similarities between the post-Independence land reforms and those attempted by the Rhodesian regime.
The land reforms in Dande rendered a considerable number of farmers officially landless. The book describes the resulting internal conflicts over land within the communities in Dande as well as the more concerted forms of resistance of these communities vis-a-vis the state. Attention is also given to the role the spirit mediums of the royal ancestors (Mhondoro) played in this resistance.


Despite its present support for the invasion of (mainly white-owned) commercial farms and emphasis on 'fast-track resettlement', most interventions by the post-Independence government of Zimbabwe in agriculture aimed to confine African farmers to the Communal Areas. In Dande, northern Zimbabwe, a land reform programme was introduced in 1987 that sought to 'rationalise' local land use practices and render them more efficient. Such reforms were deemed necessary to reduce the pressure on commercial farms. This article describes how the reforms caused Mhondoro mediums in Dande to challenge the authority of the state over land, thereby referring to the role they and their spirits played in the struggle for Independence. Pressure on the mediums to revoke their criticism resulted in a complex process in which adherents challenged the reputation of mediums who were not steadfast in their resistance to the reforms.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
In: Nature Conservation in Southern Africa


Migration has been a continuous factor in the history of Dande, northern Zimbabwe but since the 1980s immigration into Dande has increased considerably. This, in conjunction with a state-induced land reform programme, has placed considerable strain on relations between immigrants and ‘autochthons’. A cult of territorial spirits, the Mhondoro, is one of the most important social institutions in the area, fostering the inclusion of ‘strangers’. Due to changes in land allocation procedures, however, the opportunities for integration through the Mhondoro cult have diminished. Mounting tensions are affecting the religious domain in such a way that instead of inclusion, witchcraft accusations are on the increase.

In: Mobile Africa
In: Strangers, Spirits, and Land Reforms
In: Strangers, Spirits, and Land Reforms
In: Strangers, Spirits, and Land Reforms