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Highlanders Football Club and Ndebele identity amongst fans in Zimbabwe

19 Sep 2019 at 14:48hrs | Views
The paper examines the issue of identity construction amongst the Ndebele through the prism and lens of football. It examines how Ndebele identity is constructed, mediated and reproduced through support for Highlanders football club.

This is achieved by adopting sociological theory particularly the interactionist perspective. Succinctly, the theory views sport as not just a sport or a game, sport according to the theory is given meaning as various members within society interact. This therefore has implications for one's understanding a, shaping and negotiating the issue of identity.

In this regard then, using the lens and mirror of football, the article explores the issue of identity particularly Ndebele identity. Football is a metaphor of life, struggle, freedom, and fans identify with their club because it offers them a sense of identity and represents their aspirations and dreams as a social group.

In sum the paper unearths that the football club is more than just a sports team to the Ndebele, it represents a yearning for self-expression of what it means to be Ndebele within Zimbabwe.
VIEW the paper >>>> HERE


Football is the most popular sport worldwide, and its popularity in Zimbabwe is no exception. It is a game that arouses and inflames passions amongst society and contributes to a polarization within society, polarization is brought up by issues related to identity, ethnicity, language, culture and even perceived historical injustices based along ethnic lines.

Football becomes a theatre, a site of struggle and tensions where identity is constructed, deconstructed, mediated, challenged, questioned, affirmed and celebrated. In a sense, football can be read as a metaphor signifying a struggle for power, dominance and superiority not only between the two  protagonists but between societal groups such as ethnic ones.

The encounter between football and identity has always been inevitable as football clubs tend to be formed on the basis of social identity, in this instance a group identity, they identify with a geographic location, social class, racial group, ethnic group and in some cases religious group.

Highlanders is viewed by fans as a vehicle of Ndebele expression, it has emerged as the 'only' institution they have following the demise of the monarchy and ZAPU which were representative of Ndebele aspiration and identity. Fans have given highlanders meaning and shaped it into a club that stands for Ndebele identity and nationalism, captures the Ndebele experience such as Gukurahundi, critique of Shona triumphalism, imagining Ndebele identity, marginalisation, Ndebele-Shona relations.

The paper is divided into five sections, following the introduction is an outline on the theoretical framework used in the study, next will be a discussion on the intersection between football and identity which will be followed by a discussion on Ndebele identity and Highlanders Football Club. Lastly, will be the conclusion remarks.

Source - Tobias Guzura & Jefferson Ndimande
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