University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal


  • Brilliant Mhlanga
  • Mandlenkosi Mpofu
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-81
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Arts: A Journal of South-North Cultural Studies
Early online date14 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2017


Social networking and the individuated privacy of the virtual space have emerged as new forms of conflating social identities and free speech for most subaltern communities. While it is clearly accepted that the notion of social networking within most African communities has always existed as part of oramedia (orality), which also gained more positive value from grapevine as a notch of communication, current trends in communication, coupled with the rise of new media have brought normative and pragmatic values in the latter day communication culture. One social networking group from Matebeleland (Zimbabwe); the “Forum” will be used to show how the virtual sphere has revolutionised the Habermasian public sphere. We argue that the new tidal wave of social networking sites now enables participants to gather and connect through ‘Internet portals.’ We posit that these different fora define the extent to which engagement and free speech are practiced leading to changes in people’s worldviews. Opportunities have emerged for subaltern groups like the people of Matebeleland, from Zimbabwe whose sensitive discourses have been denied spaces in the local public sphere to gain traction through social networking sites. These online fora now range from different Facebook and Whatsapp groups, such as; Inhlamba Zesintu, Luveve Ikasi Lami, Abammeli Mthwakazi, Not-Everyone-is-Zimbabwean, Thina AbaMpofu, to websites like, Youtube, and other vibrant platforms created through mailing lists and listserv, such as Forum. Given the complexity of the Matebeleland question in Zimbabwe and the rise of different internet based social movements this paper will focus on one social networking site; the ‘Forum.’


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Arts on 14 August 2017, available online Under embargo. Embargo end date: 14 February 2019.

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