I want bread, not stones…I will not leave this land”: Of Racialized Dispossessions and Boundary Contestations in colonial Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands, the 1950s-1970s

Nicholas Nyachega
Date and Time:

537 Heller Hall (ICGC)


**Please note, we encourage you to come in person, but if you aren't able to attend we have a live stream option and a recording will be made available on our website following the event.

This talk is about Africans’ colonial encounters of racialized land dispossession, forced removals, migrations, and localized resistances in colonial Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia). Drawing from oral histories co-created in Zimbabwe’s Inyanga and Honde Valley area, and colonial archives, I argue that Africans’ forced removals from their nyika (indigenous ancestral lands) involved various contestations, vulnerabilities, and everyday forms of resistance that created various administrative problems for the Rhodesian colonial state. In the struggles to defend their nyika from settlers and colonial officials who were displacing them, indigenous Manyika leaders and their communities invoked discourses of indigenous sovereignty, exploited colonial courts, and sometimes openly resisted the orders of the colonial officials to leave their homelands. While some communities gallantly resisted dispossessions, thousands of families were evicted between 1948 and 1969. During these years, local chiefs, elders, spirit mediums, and hunters became knowledge experts on their ancestral lands, their boundaries, and the paths to evade the pressures of colonial displacements. Others used their vast knowledge of travel traditions, becoming migration experts who guided their families and communities to cross the Southern Rhodesia-Mozambique border. By the end of the 1970s, many Manyika homelands had become frontiers of war and contested borderscapes.


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Interdisciplinary Research Colloquium

The Interdisciplinary Research Colloquium series offers informal lectures and discussions on current research projects by ICGC Scholars, affiliated faculty, visiting scholars, and practitioners. These events are open to the public. Guests are welcome to bring their lunches and eat during the sessions.