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Laughter is the Best Medicine for Zimbabwe’s Taboo Subjects

In 2019, Zimbabwean comedy made international news when comedienne Samantha Kureya, known on stage as Gonyeti, was abducted and tortured by masked gunmen. She is one of many comedians in Zimbabwe who have faced violent repercussions for their comedy. In Zimbabwe the public sphere is regulated through gender norms that tend to delegitimise female actors when they try to make a claim at political power. Zimbabwean academic Gibson Ncube highlights this in a paper that points out that female politicians have often been described either negatively as “whores” or “witches” when attempting to claim power, or postively as “mothers” when taking a more submissive role. This kind of reproduction of sexism through language in the Zimbabwean public space can also be seen in stand-up comedy.