Godfrey Maringira is an associate professor of Anthropology at Sol Plaatje University, Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa. He graduated with a PhD in sociology at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa in 2015. He is a senior Volkswagen Stiftung Foundation research fellow and is also a Principal Investigator of the International Development Research Center (IDRC) research on Gang violence in South Africa. Dr. Maringira is a two-time consecutive recipient of the SSRC’s Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Fieldwork and Completion Grant – 2012 and 2013, respectively. He is also a three-time recipient of the African Peacebuilding Network grants: Individual Research Grant (2014), Working Group Grant (2016-2017), and Book Manuscript Grant (2018). Dr Maringira’s areas of research include armed violence in Africa with a specific focus on the military in post-colonial Africa. His 2017 African Affairs Journal article title “Politicisation and Resistance in the Zimbabwe National Army” was awarded the best author price in 2018. His book Soldiers and the State in Zimbabwe was published in 2019 by Routledge.
This study explores the lives of exiled Zimbabwean soldiers who have deserted and or resigned from the army after experiencing victimisation and torture in the army barracks in Zimbabwe for being suspected of being supporters of the opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). They migrated to find refuge in South Africa. Their lives have remained soldierly and soldiering, that is they continue carrying military 'identities' and bodies which resemble military traits. They continue longing for the past, seeing themselves in their dreams in war and being chased by the military police and military intelligence. They live in fear. While the argument by many scholars is that once soldiers depart from the barracks, they can be integrated into civilians' lives, here I argue that the ways in which soldiers are socialised through military training and war, makes it difficult to demilitarise them into civilians. Once soldiers are 'made', it is difficult to 'unmake' them because of the symbolic and material resource they continue drawing from the military experience. The study employed Bourdieu's (1990) habitus and field to understand the ways in which soldiers remained in, and enduring a militaristic life. The research was done in Johannesburg city, South Africa because it where soldiers' formed their association called the Affected Military Men of Zimbabwe Assiciation (AMMOZA). Ethnography through life histories, in-depth interviews, group discussions and 'deep hanging-out' were used to gather data. Having been a Zimbabwean soldier for ten years and fought in war, I understand the events being narrated and there is social intimacy with exiled soldiers.