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'‘Zimbabwe is my home’: Citizenship and Belonging for ‘Malawians’ in Post- Independence Urban Zimbabwe'
journal contributionposted on 01.07.2020, 10:04 by Zoe Groves
This article examines changes in Zimbabwean citizenship law since independence, highlighting the experience of urban residents of Malawian origin and descent, and state practices of political exclusion. Zimbabwe’s citizenship laws became increasingly exclusive following independence, leaving many politically disenfranchised and labelled ‘aliens’ by the state. Notwithstanding the introduction of a new constitution in 2013, a great deal of confusion has remained over the eligibility of those with ‘foreign’ ancestry to have their citizenship rights recognised or reinstated. This article presents a bottom-up perspective on citizenship and belonging in Zimbabwe, showing through multidisciplinary research how long-term urban residents originally from Malawi have continued to be regarded as ‘foreign’. Despite being labelled ‘aliens’ by the state, people of Malawian origin and descent have constructed a sense of belonging in Zimbabwe’s urban communities, while at the same time, continuing to identify with their Malawian heritage.