Kuyedza: African Police Wives Homecraft Club, Identity and Politics in Late Colonial Zimbabwe

This paper explores the history of Kuyedza African Police Wives’ Homecrafts Club in colonial Zimbabwe from 1958 to 1980. Drawing mainly on oral interviews with the wives of former African colonial policemen and collaborated by archival evidence, the case study approach to the history of African women’s homecrafts movement employed here places at its core the identity and cultural politics which permeated the violent struggle for state power in the decolonisation process particularly of settler colonial states in Africa. Existing research on the Homecrafts Movement (a movement in which white women volunteered in numbers to teach African women how to be good wives and mothers especially from the 1950s) in Zimbabwe has, until recently, largely been written from anthropological and sociological perspectives. Consequently issues of gender, power, race, class and other interpersonal dynamics-what women thought and did about other women- loom large both in interpretation and analysis. Although making immense contributions to debates on the working of domesticity in the private and public spaces of the empire, these studies often obscure the very potent connections between identity formation as espoused by some sections of the settler community and as aspired for by African women through their participation in the clubs and how this complicates the political economy of violence and, by extension, the nature and process of decolonisation itself. By focusing on a single case, I hope to both supplement and interrogate existing master narratives on the homecrafts movement, while making a case for the numerous over-generalisations and simplifications which have the effect of obscuring the complexities of the decolonisation process for what it really was.