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Forged in the Great War : people, transport, and labour, the establishment of colonial rule in Zambia, 1890-1920

The territories that would make up what is today the Republic of Zambia officially became British in 1891. However, this did not equate to an on-the-ground presence of colonial authority capable of affecting the destiny and daily lives of people.

Jan Bart Gewald
15 December 2015

This book shows that the establishment of effective colonial rule in Northern Rhodesia only came about on account of the unique conditions that developed in World War One (1914-1918); conditions that led to the massive application of human labour, obtained through the intercedence of Chiefs and Headmen in exchange for goods and money. Inadvertently this bound the Chiefs and Headmen ever further to the incipient colonial administration.

In contrast to the work of those who argue that the colonial state was threatened and nearly collapsed during the course of the World War One, this book argues that it was precisely on account of the war, and in particular the limitless funding made available by the War Office during the course of the war, that the British South Africa Company (BSAC) was able to establish an effective administration in colonial Zambia.

World War One did not weaken the colonial administration in Northern Rhodesia, instead it provided the BSAC with an opportunity to extend and impress its authority across the territory.

Jan-Bart Gewald is Professor of Southern African History at Leiden University and Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre in Leiden. He has written and published extensively on a variety of topics in Southern African History. He is particularly interested in socio-cultural history, and is currently attempting to develop the genre of biography within African History.

African Studies Centre, 2015
156 pages


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