Remaking Mutirikwi

Landscape, Water and Belonging in Southern Zimbabwe

Joost Fontein



The Mutirikwi river was dammed in the early 1960s to make Zimbabwe's second largest lake. This was a key moment in the Europeanisation of Mutirikwi's landscapes, which had begun with colonial land appropriations in the 1890s. But African landscapes were not obliterated by the dam. They remained active and affective. At independence in 1980, local clans reasserted ancestral land claims in a wave of squatting around Lake Mutirikwi. They were soon evicted as the new government asserted control over the remaking of Mutirikwi's landscapes. Amid fast-track land reform in the 2000s, the same people returned again to reclaim the land.


Basing his book on extensive fieldwork, in-depth oral interviews, and an intimate understanding of the historical and social context, Fontein provides an exceptionally detailed analysis. . . . The moving stories of informants, vivid photos, and helpful maps make for an excellent work. - Choice


Joost Fontein is an Africanist and social anthropologist interested in the political imbrications of landscapes, things and materialities. He is director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa.