African labour in the chartered company period
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A constant refrain runs through all early published work on Rhodesia, through official documents of the Southern Rhodesian administration or of the Colonial Office in London, through any private or semi-official correspondence of the chartered period: the labour problem. Again and again it was said that the development of Southern Rhodesia was being retarded by the reluctance of the African population to go to work. In consequence many extraordinary schemes were got up to try to provide labour. Firstly there were attempts to increase the African population of Southern Rhodesia. The Fingoes were invited by Rhodes himself to immigrate from the Cape.1 Tribes from Portuguese East Africa, from the Northern Transvaal and from Bechuanaland were encouraged, sometimes in some secrecy, to cross the border into Rhodesia.2 The Chamber of Mines requested a policy of encouraging the many thousands of labourers who migrated from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to bring their families with them and settle permanently in Southern Rhodesia, although they did not specify whether this permanent settlement would be in reserves or in urban locations.3 In 1917 when a serious rebellion broke out in the Barue district of Portuguese East Africa, thousands of refugees crossed into the Inyanga District.4 These people were invited to settle permanently and were indeed immediately integrated into the labour force by the provision of grain to the wives and children on condition that the able bodied men went out to work.