Crafting Identity in Zimbabwe & Mozambique

Elizabeth MacGonagle



With this first comprehensive history of the Ndau of eastern Zimbabwe and central Mozambique, Elizabeth MacGonagle moves beyond national borders to show how cultural identities are woven from historical memories that predate the arrival of missionaries and colonial officials on the African continent. Drawing on archival records and oral histories from throughout the Ndau region, her study analyzes the complex relationships between social identity and political power from 1500 to 1900. Ndauness has been created and recreated within communities through marriages and social structures, cultural practices that mark the body, and rituals that help to sustain shared beliefs.


The book's real strength is in its mapping of Ndau identity, reflected in the region's cartography but also etched onto people's bodies, shaped into cooking vessels and counted in the cadence of hand claps offered to visitors. - Journal of African History


Professor Elizabeth MacGonagle focuses on processes of identity formation in African and Diasporan settings in her research. She is Director of the Kansas African Studies Center at University of Kansas.