Reviewed by Terence M. Mashingaidze, Lecturer, Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 3 No. 1, 2003
Traditional scholarship about Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle tended to be gender neutral and highly romanticised. The liberation fighters were presented as fair, brave and disciplined whilst the opposite applied to the forces of the colonial state. Recent historiography is now showing that all the protagonists in the war perpetrated injustices against the unarmed civilians and within their ranks. It is in this vein of challenging, reconstructing and deconstructing dominant notions and paradigms that Nhongo-Simbanegavi’s book, For Better or Worse? Women And ZANLA In Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle, emerges. The book deserves the commendation of all those interested in the history of African liberation movements. It is probably the most cogent refutation of the claims of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) to the establishment of gender equity during the war of liberation. It shows the resilience of patriarchal hegemony in the various contexts that punctuated Zimbabwe’s history, such as the colonial and post-colonial periods, and the times of war and peace. The book is well researched and weaves a rich tapestry of women’s, mostly combatants’, experiences during the war and in the post-colonial dispensation. Besides oral interviews and data from secondary sources, the book relies heavily on the rich but largely inaccessible ZANLA archives at the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) headquarters in Harare.