(Un)Solving Paternity Disputes through “The Closure DNA Show”: The Case of Young People in Zimbabwe

Conference: The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia2022)
Title: (Un)Solving Paternity Disputes through “The Closure DNA Show”: The Case of Young People in Zimbabwe
Stream: Critical and Cultural Studies, Gender and Communication
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Doreen Rumbidzai Tivenga, University of the Free State, South Africa


“The Closure DNA Show” also known as “The Platform of Realities” is a Zimbabwean reality television show that has become a social media sensation and a popular culture phenomenon influencing everyday social discourses in the country. The show is broadcast on the Zimbabwean national television and streamed on YouTube. Behind the program is the Global DNA Zimbabwe, a biotechnological company that offers paternity tests and hosts the show to resolve paternity disputes, or help the parties involved gain closure as the name of the show suggests, or what the presenter describes as “mak[ing] sure that the parties concerned gain what we call peace of mind.” The dispute resolution involves an interview process that features the affected couples/parents/persons to trace the background of the dispute and ends with the disclosing of the DNA results. It is this idea of resolving disputes that forms the basis of the investigation in this paper considering that, besides subjecting some of the affected parties to flaws associated with reality shows such as humiliation, shame and guilt, the show unearths a number of problems embedded in the Zimbabwean cultural, social and economic experiences, religious beliefs and patriarchal system. I am particularly interested in the experiences of young people who are prominently featured in the show, and as the show reveals, have engaged in multiple sexual relationships. The paper thus highlights that, in the process of solving paternity disputes, the reality show exposes further problems that affect young people especially the girl child, and are left unsolved.

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