SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

The ‘Non-indigenous Elements’: Malawian migrants in urban colonial Zimbabwe

Zoe Groves, History, Cambridge

Date: 23 April 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 23 April 2014Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Faber Building, 23/24 Russell Square Room: FG01

Type of Event: Seminar

Non-indigenous labour migrants dominated the African population of Salisbury until the mid-1950s. A great number of men and women from Nyasaland stayed in Southern Rhodesia for such long periods that they became known as machona – ‘the lost ones.’ Previous studies have illuminated the influence of southern labour migrants in Southern Rhodesia. However, the identities of northern migrants have been generalised in, or marginalised from, the historiography of urban colonial Zimbabwe. This paper seeks to disaggregate the category ‘Nyasa’, where necessary, and to explore the processes through which the term emerged as a marker of social and cultural identity. Through mobility, religious and associational life, labour migrants came together in a number of arenas, not only the workplace. Nyasa women migrated as wives, or as independent single women, but have hitherto remained absent from scholarship on colonial Salisbury. The paper is based on oral and archival evidence from Malawi, Zimbabwe, and the UK, including official colonial records, missionary papers, and anthropological writings.

Organiser: Dr Marie Rodet

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