Hydro-colonialism: a hydro-critical reading of three texts on Kariba

Makuyana, Luck
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This research report offers a hydro-critical reading of three texts on Kariba dam. Kariba dam becomes a source of narrative temporality that reminds us that colonization was as much a struggle for water as it was for land, a realisation that helps us to reimagine Southern African colonization and decolonization discourse from almost exclusively land-based perspectives. Although the texts I have selected are largely binary and are informed by colonial schemas, my watery analysis aims to lay bare these structures and highlight the points at which these binaries become unsustainable. I argue that immersing colonialism in water underscores the paradoxes of colonization and decolonization more sharply. The theoretical framework for this research draws on Isabel Hofmeyr’s concept of hydro-colonialism (2019) and Rob Nixon’s notion of slow violence (2011), a combination of theories that offers ways to think about water and hydrological themes from an ecological and post-colonial perspective. The research report considers the use of water as a weapon of political terror, explores colonization of water, examines the colonization of the idea of water, critiques colonial constructions of water and reads water as a narrative technique
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts in African Literature to the Faculty of Humanities, School of Social Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2021