Shadows, faces and echoes of an African war: The Rhodesian bush war through the eyes of Chas Lotter – soldier poet
Poetry that is rooted in that most extreme of human experiences, war, continues to grip the public imagination. When the poetry under scrutiny comes from the "losing side" in a colonial war of liberation, important moral and ethical questions arise. In this thesis, I examine the published and unpublished works of Chas Lotter, a soldier who fought in the Rhodesian Army during the Zimbabwean liberation war (1965- 1980). In investigating Lotter's artistic record of this war, I propose that a powerful, socially embedded Rhodesian national mythology was a catalyst for acceptance of, and participation in, the Rhodesian regime's ideological and military aims. A variety of postcolonial theoretical approaches will be used to explore the range of thematic concerns that emerge and to unpack the dilemmas experienced by a soldier-poet who took part in that conflict. Trauma theory, too, will be drawn upon to critically respond to the personal impact that participation in organized violence has upon combatants and non-combatants alike. The production and marketing of this cultural record will also be examined and in the conclusion, I speculate on the changes modern technology and evolving social mores may have on future developments in war literature. Finally, I conclude my case for installing the challenging work of this often conflicted and contradictory soldier-poet as a necessary adjunct to the established canon of Zimbabwean Chimurenga writing.