Bulawayo Burning

Bulawayo Burning

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

Terence Ranger

eBook for Handhelds

James Currey



A unique and stylish contribution to the social history of African cities and Zimbabwean cultural life.

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. Two of its chapters are in effect 'scenes', dealing with brief periods of intense activity. Others are in effect biographies of 'characters'. The book draws upon and quotes from a rich body of urban oral memory. In addition to this historical/literary interaction the book is a contribution to the historiography of southern African cities, bringing out the experiential and cultural dimensions, and combining black and white urban social history.

TERENCE RANGER was Emeritus Rhodes Professor of Race Relations, University of Oxford and author of many books including Writing Revolt, Are we not also Men? (1995), Voices from the Rocks (1999) and was co-editor of Violence and Memory (2000).

Zimbabwe: Weaver Press

An e-book version of this title is available (9781846158933), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


10 black and white, 5 line illustrations
272 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781847010209, September 2010
eBook for Handhelds, 9781782041566, September 2010
James Currey
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Table of Contents

Prelude: Bulawayo 1893-1930
The landscapes of Bulawayo
The first fires: December 1929
City versus state 1930-1946
Mr Black Bulawayo 1930-1948
The feminisation of black Bulawayo 1948-1960
Black Bulawayo transformed
Black Bulawayo burns 1960
Postlude: Bulawayo after 1960


A wonderful historical mosaic [and] an illuminating study of the social history of the city. AFRICAN AFFAIRS

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

A unique and stylish contribution to the social history of African cities and Zimbabwean cultural life. [...] It is as vivid and dramatic as only Ranger can make it. BRITAIN ZIMBABWE SOCIETY NEWSLETTER

For scholars examining trade union politics and grassroots politics in other African cities, these monographs serve as models to follow in their use of primary sources and interviews. Scholarship on southern African cities has long led the way in developing the historiography of urban Africa as a whole, and these works show this is still the case in the early twenty-first century. H-NET (reviewed with URP's The Urban Roots of Democracy and Political Violence in Zimbabwe Harare and Highfield, 1940-1964)

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