Religion and language as a panacea to peacebuilding and development in Zimbabwe: A Critical Discourse Analysis approach

Esther Mavengano [1],  Tobias Marevesa[2], Paul Nepapleh Nkamta[3]

[1] Great Zimbabwe University, Department of English and Media Studies, Simon Muzenda School of Arts, Culture and Heritage Studies, /,

[2] Great Zimbabwe University, Department of Philosophy and Religioius Studies, Simon Muzenda School of Arts, Culture and Heritage Studies, Research Fellow, Institute for Theology and Religion, College of Human Sciences University of South Africa, /,

[3] North-West University, South Africa, Understanding and Processing Language in Complex Settings (UPSET) Research Entity, School of Languages,,


For over two decades now, Zimbabwe has been rocked by socio-political and economic crises, which, together, project a troubling scenario of state failure. The solution to these multiple crises, which have retarded peacebuilding and development, is not yet in sight since the country is still struggling to recover and reclaim its glory of yester-year within Southern Africa. Religion is a bedrock of principles, values and norms that can be used in nation-building in Zimbabwe. The essential notions from religious belief systems of honesty, transparency, accountability and forgiveness, can be utilised to reconfigure and reconceptualise Zimbabwean humanity. Similarly, communication is one of the main pillars of nation-building; hence, the fundamental role of language in peacebuilding and development cannot be relegated or over-stated. The key purpose of this study hinges on the imperative to rethink the role of both religion and language in nation-building discourse in Zimbabwe. This study is informed by insights from Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), which views discourse as socio-political and cultural practice. Thus, the study takes cognisance of the complex nature of language and discourse as sites of struggle, contradictions and projection of socio-political power relations hence, contextual factors that inform Zimbabwe’s present political realm are useful in debating the present subject. Although language and religion have always been contested and considered divisive aspects, if accorded careful attention, these two can be instrumental in bringing peace, unity and nation-building. Religion and language are of paramount importance in the discourses of peacebuilding, unity and development in contemporary Zimbabwe.

Keywords:  Critical Discourse Analysis, development, language, peacebuilding, religion


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