Settling in Motion as Consciousness: Nyasa (Malawian) Informal Transit Across Southern Rhodesia towards South Africa from the 1910s to the 1950s

Settling in Motion as Consciousness: Nyasa (Malawian) Informal Transit Across Southern Rhodesia towards South Africa from the 1910s to the 1950s

Author: 
Daimon, Anusa
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2021
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
African Studies
Source: 
African Studies, Vol. 80, No. 1, 2021, pp. 1-20
Abstract: 

For some labourers who joined the colonial labour migration system, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was not or did not become their final destination. Instead, they regarded the colony as a transit zone through which they clandestinely moved towards the more lucrative South African mines and farms. Not all succeeded in this quest. Those who did deployed numerous tactics ranging from engaging in contractual work within Southern Rhodesia to finance their southward mobility, work desertions, use of social networks, bribes, theft, forgery, and manipulation of the Rhodesian labour recruitment infrastructure. In essence, they 'settled in motion', as they systematically migrated either gradually or swiftly from Southern Rhodesia's northern and eastern entry points towards the shores of the Limpopo River and the Bechuanaland (Botswana) border before eventually crossing into South Africa. The colonial archive includes trails of this internal and informal mobility of trans-Zambezian 'alien natives', mainly Nyasas (Malawians), between the 1910s and 1950s. The article, based mainly on this archival residue, casts light on the process of 'settling in motion' as a form of African worker consciousness through which industrious Nyasa labour migrants navigated the treacherous and restrictive colonial labour regimes in pursuit of better working conditions and prospects. It argues that in as much as Southern Rhodesia tried to monopolise northern labour for itself, this transient labour consciously viewed and exploited Rhodesia as a staging post for spatial mobility towards the promised land of South Africa. The article aims to contribute to the problematisation and condensation of the internal dynamics involved in this informal transit, and its contextualisation as part of the broader regional labour consciousness and how Nyasas meticulously executed it, as well as its potential contemporary parallels in southern Africa.

Language: 

CITATION: Daimon, Anusa. Settling in Motion as Consciousness: Nyasa (Malawian) Informal Transit Across Southern Rhodesia towards South Africa from the 1910s to the 1950s . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2021. African Studies, Vol. 80, No. 1, 2021, pp. 1-20 - Available at: https://library.au.int/settling-motion-consciousness-nyasa-malawian-informal-transit-across-southern-rhodesia-towards-south