Urban lives and the complexities of change: Cultural transformation for survival in contemporary Zimbabwean fiction.
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This paper explores the literary representation of the complex, heterogeneous and constantly shifting socio-cultural dynamics of Zimbabwean city-making and human survival today. It's raison d'etre is premised on the desire to explicate through nuanced paradigms, a study of African culture using three short stories by Shimmer Chonodya's "Last laugh", Erasmus Chinyani's "A land of starving millionaires" and Julius Chingono's "Minister without Portfolio". Attention is focussed on perspectives on urbanity and how creative cultural expressions (fiction) offer critical discourse on human survival during periods of tempestuous changes. The result is an emphasis on African city-making through fluid and rapidly changing cultural structures and the ability of the urbanites to adjust, negotiate and innovate. Critical is a literary analysis of their espousal and reformulation of the political, moral and socio-economic terrain thereby fostering a distinct culture of "city dwellership". As a result this multiplex perspective of the city rests on a non-essentialist conception of urbanity and the short stories demonstrate the artistic expressions of how the people have not only found effective ways of pursuing their livelihoods but also how to interpret and reformulate these pronouncements in harsh and tyrannical contexts.
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