Film-Philosophy Conference, Film-Philosophy Conference 2014: A World of Cinemas

A Feminist Break with Shona Tradition in the work of Rumbi Katedza?

Agnieszka Piotrowska


Rumbi Katedza is a new generation Zimbabwean filmmaker. Her work uses documentary and fiction to tell stories of contemporary Zimbabwe, drawing from the tradition on the one hand and positioning herself squarely against it on the other. Drawing from the philosophy of Levinas, Judith Butler and a post colonial thinker Ranjana Khanna as well as Shona traditions and philosophy of ‘ubuntu-uhuntu’ (of being one with the world) this paper will interrogate this tension in Katedza work in which a Western notion of advancement is in conflict with the Shona traditions of oneness. Can they ever been reconciled?


I will look at Katedza’s two films: one, which sees traditional philosophy of the land as a nourishing and healing resource, and the other one rejecting its patriarchal heritage.


 Katedza’s documentary The Tree and the Axe (2006) deals with the trauma, which ensued after the violence following the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe.  Katedza in this openly political film, which criticises the ruling party ZANU PF, offers haunting interviews with the victims of the post election violence.  The filmmaker in a beautifully crafted piece of work features also an organisation called The Tree of Life  that attempts to heal victims of trauma, torture and other crime through drawing from traditional Shona ethics and beliefs in spiritual resources of nature, in which the oneness of the world is emphasised as a source of a healing.


Katedza’s latest fiction film is a long way from the Tree and the Axe documentary.  Since its premiere at the 2012 New York Festival, the film entitled Playing Warriors has been called the Zimbabwean Sex and the City and was screened in many American cities as well as at the festivals in Europe. 

Only abstracts are available on this site

About the Presenter

Agnieszka Piotrowska
University of Bedfordshire
United Kingdom

Reader in Film Practice and Theory

Dept, Media Arts

University of Bedfordshire