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The Triple Play of Violence in Ismael R. Mbise’s Blood on Our Land

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History, Law, and Development

image of Matatu

Ismael R. Mbise’s novel Blood on Our Land (1974) re-creates the events known as the Meru Land Case, when in 1951 a group of Wameru from northern Tanganyika petitioned the UN to prevent the British authorities from evicting them from their land. The petition drew international attention to the area for a fleeting moment and, though unsuccessful, it has since entered the national imaginary as an original gesture of peaceful resistance to colonial control. Mbise’s re-creation has also been read as a critical allegory of the implementation of villagization associated with the policies of Ujamaa. The novel does this and more in its brilliant comparative analysis of the vectors of violence within the politics of language, history, and representation, the practices of Indirect Rule and its force of law, and development and its mechanics of ‘modernization’: a triple play.

Affiliations: 1: Fordham University, New York, USA


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