Graduate School
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Dr Mickey Musiyiwa

Home country: Zimbabwe

Year of enrolment: 2011

Graduation date: March 2013

Department:  African Languages

Supervisor: Prof Marianna Visser

Co-Supervisors: Prof Meg Samuelson and Prof Annie Gagiano

Dissertation title: The narrativization of post-2000 Zimbabwe in the Shona popular song-genre: an appraisal approach


The study explores the post-2000 popular song genre (expressed in Shona) in order to analyze its rhetorical potential in its appropriation as a medium for the construction and contestation of meanings concerning land, history and selected (political, social and religious) identities. The goal is to discover how the turbulent post-2000 period in Zimbabwe is narrativized through the lyrics of popular songs. The rationale to focus on popular songs in the context of this period was my observation of the uniquely high level of appropriation of the popular song in the Zimbabwean public sphere by political parties and the ordinary people to communicate various discourses (of their interest). The period surpasses by far the pre-2000 era in its rate of output of songs. Old songs were revived and new ones composed while new musical genres emerged and existing ones thrived. I also noted in previous researches gaps in both theoretical and coverage of the analyses of popular songs in Zimbabwe. There is little in terms of linguistically-rooted approaches while analyses are largely limited to politically-inspired songs. I therefore, besides the politically-oriented songs, also explore socially and religiously-oriented songs. I adopt a multi-perspective approach combining APPRAISAL, genre, "small stories/voices" and the "rediscovery of the ordinary" frameworks to study the rhetorical property and capacity (to communicate) of the popular song. I employ the APPRAISAL theory to deal with the songs' language of evaluation in terms of the authorial stances and ideological positions singers adopt. I utilize the genre theory in making a typology of the various popular song texts on the basis of their communicative properties (which determine their rhetorical purposes). I employ the remaining theories to classify the songs into three clusters ('grand narrative songs'; 'small stories/voices songs' and 'songs of ordinary life') based the sources of their ideological concerns. In pursuit of the connection between the songs' language and its communicative effects, I note in chapters two, four, five and six, the high level of intertextuality the post-2000 popular song has assumed. I argue that the unique intertextuality can be explained in relation to the high demands being placed on the language of the song texts by composers and singers in a context in which the state and opposition are pitted in an intense competition for the "power to mean". The state appropriates the popular song to demonize and delegitimate the opposition at the same time legitimating its hegemony, based on patriotic discourses derived from chimurenga (nationalist) grand narrative values. On the other hand, the opposition manipulates the popular song to legitimate its struggle for change through counter-state discourses exposing Zanu-PF's political vices and debasing its power. The ordinary people also appropriate the popular song in their struggle to resolve issues of personal concern in their attempt to give meaning to their lives. It is therefore the study's main thesis that the popular song in post-2000 Zimbabwe narrativizes the period in unique ways as illustrated through the manipulation of its rhetorical potential to construct meanings concerning land, history and identities.

Click here to download the full dissertation:

Click here to access Dr Mickey Musiyiwa's research outputs ​