Bulawayo Burning

The Social History of a Southern African City, 1893-1960

Terence O. Ranger



This book is designed as a tribute and response to Yvonne Vera's famous novel Butterfly Burning, which is set in the Bulawayo townships in 1946 and dedicated to the author. It is an attempt to explore what historical research and reconstruction can add to the literary imagination. Responding as it does to a novel, this history imitates some fictional modes. The book draws upon and quotes from a rich body of urban oral memory.


Ranger exploits the techniques of a novelist. While sticking hard to the facts, he seeks to bring the city's history alive by telling it through the eyes and ears of those who lived it. He succeeds magnificently and so consolidates his reputation as Zimbabwe's foremost living historian. - Contemporary Review


Terence O. Ranger was a prominent African historian, focusing on the history of Zimbabwe. His work spanned the pre- and post-Independence period in Zimbabwe, from the 1960s to the present. He died in 2015.