Death and the sociocultural dimensions of forced relocations: experiences from the Tugwi-Mukosi displacement in Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe
This article is an ethnographic inquiry into the cultural dimensions of forced relocations. It is based on the experiences of four resident anthropologists on the forced displacements at Tugwi-Mukosi in Masvingo province, Zimbabwe. Using the concept of death, we question the idea of belonging and what is regarded as an “honourable” way of exiting this world. These are interwoven in the cultural fabric of most Zimbabwean communities and any phenomenon that severs this tie to home is a cause of discomfort and pain amongst local people. Forced displacements have altered issues of honour associated with death rituals. We use death rituals as a window to understand the sociocultural effects of displacement. Novel ways of dealing with death are witnessed as people struggle with lack of a permanent “home.” The sacredness of cultural dimensions of death has been reconfigured in ways that have left the displaced struggling to find closure in dealing with the dead. Death rituals give us an opportunity to understand the multifaceted effects of displacement. Through death we experience the pain of displacement, understand the chords that bind the displaced communities together and witness the enduring social bonds that structure life beyond the disruptions of displacement.
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