The Second World War Revival of Forced Labor in the Rhodesias

Forced labour, used here to mean demands for labour which, if refused, would bring direct and immediate punishment, has a long and notorious history in the territories known today as Zimbabwe and Zambia – formerly Southern and Northern Rhodesia. By the 1930s, such labour had dramatically declined, but the Allied effort in the Second World War, by virtue of its tremendously increased demands for commodity production and manpower, brought a reversal of the situation. There occurred a revival of open, straightforward forced labour. This paper compares the situation in Southern Rhodesia, which had been essentially under white settler dominance since 1923, with that in Northern Rhodesia, which was administered under the paternalistic ethos of the Colonial Office. The paper concentrates on essentially non-soldierly labour employed on both government works and private enterprises, especially white settler farms. It shows that the scale of wartime conscription was substantially greater in Southern Rhodesia. This can be explained by two factors. First, the Copperbelt companies, which paid wages comparable even to those on the South African Rand, were able to attract sufficient labour without conscription. Second, there were far fewer struggling white farmers in the north. Notes, ref.

Title: The Second World War Revival of Forced Labor in the Rhodesias
Author: Vickery, Kenneth P.
Year: 1989
Periodical: International Journal of African Historical Studies
Volume: 22
Issue: 3
Pages: 423-437
Language: English
Geographic terms: Zimbabwe
Zambia
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/220204
Abstract: Forced labour, used here to mean demands for labour which, if refused, would bring direct and immediate punishment, has a long and notorious history in the territories known today as Zimbabwe and Zambia – formerly Southern and Northern Rhodesia. By the 1930s, such labour had dramatically declined, but the Allied effort in the Second World War, by virtue of its tremendously increased demands for commodity production and manpower, brought a reversal of the situation. There occurred a revival of open, straightforward forced labour. This paper compares the situation in Southern Rhodesia, which had been essentially under white settler dominance since 1923, with that in Northern Rhodesia, which was administered under the paternalistic ethos of the Colonial Office. The paper concentrates on essentially non-soldierly labour employed on both government works and private enterprises, especially white settler farms. It shows that the scale of wartime conscription was substantially greater in Southern Rhodesia. This can be explained by two factors. First, the Copperbelt companies, which paid wages comparable even to those on the South African Rand, were able to attract sufficient labour without conscription. Second, there were far fewer struggling white farmers in the north. Notes, ref.