Studies of social memory and their role in nation-building have often been approached from a state-centric perspective. Due attention is not always given to community-driven initiatives that produce different narratives on and consciousness of the past, which in turn shape contemporary developments. This panel seeks not only to critique state-centric approaches but also to examine the role played by non-state actors and organisations in constructions and reconstructions of history, heritage, nation and memory. We will be mindful of the fact that community-driven memorialisation activities do not necessarily represent the aspirations of those they purport to represent, and explore internal contestations within communities. The panel seeks to make comparisons between Zimbabwe – where a state presiding over an extreme socio-political crisis is still strong enough to keep tight control over articulations of history and memories – and post-conflict Kenya, characterised by ‘history deficits’ at state level which have allowed the emergence of vigorous community-led engagement with heritage at grassroots level. We will explore issues of forgetting, remembering, projection, and suppression of particular memories and histories as well as contestations, together with their implications for nation-building, identity, citizenship, peace and conflict resolution in postcolonial Africa.